I am not a professional climber, nor a fan of hiking mountains (though I had my fair share of experiences in hiking mountains during my early years). It was only through hasty planning that the my girlfriend and I decided to hike Makiling. Abrupt as it may seem, this experience proved to be one of the best I had in my life! In this post, I will be sharing some of our experiences during the hike and I will also be including some pointers as to why this mountain should be included in your hiking bucket list.
1) Easy access from Manila (the capital of Philippines)
This gem is easily accessible from Manila which makes it ideal for people who have tight vacation schedules. You could avail of the day hike and be back to Manila by evening. If you are free for the whole weekend, then the camping activity at Makiling is also a good option to maximize your hiking experience.
Arrival at the site…
We were early when we reached the registration area. The people manning the entrance are all friendly, and they will certainly give you some tips on hiking mount Makiling. What to do, what not to do, and more.They told us that following our guide is of utmost importance during the hike, and that neglecting his instructions could lead to an accident. Being a beginner in this field, I absorbed all the tips they gave me, and did my best to remember it throughout the hike. After about 15 minutes of chatting, the guide arrived.
2) Competent, friendly and well-informed guides.
Makiling can’t be traversed without a guide like in most hiking sites. Guides will be assigned to you as soon as you finish registering at the counter. Some guides are younger than the others but don’t ever worry because all of their guides here are competent- and friendly too! Our guide during the hike was only 18 years old but he already hiked Makiling many, many times. Also, make sure to ask questions about the place. You’ll know a lot from the locals this way.
Start of the climb…
The man leading the way is our guide. His name is Edmund. Young as he may seem (he’s just 18), he is already a veteran when it comes to climbing Mount Makiling.
3) Fresh streams and waterfalls
Lush trees and vegetation may be a common sight when hiking mountains but streams and waterfalls? Now that’s something. Here, we were able to encounter a mountain stream. Nothing beats a dip on a cold, mountain stream after a tiring hike. We ate our lunch here too, and of course, had our fill of water from the flowing beauty. There is also a waterfalls nearby, but we did not have enough time and energy to go there. Maybe someday.
Stations of Makiling…
The mount makiling trail has a total of 30 stations. Each station is indefinitely spaced from the other. Meaning, the distance from one station to the other varies. The normal hiking time according to Edmund is around 4 to 5 hours in order to reach the summit. We reached station 1 after a half an hour of walking.
4) You get to experience rappelling
This rappelling may not be that 90-degree-climb you see on TV shows, but still, it’s an experience you don’t want to miss. Just don’t look down while rappelling because that steep slope is not a joke. Combine it with wet soil, and you’ll have an adventure worth telling to Lara Croft.
5) You get to experience being sucked by leeches.
Ah, yes. LEECHES. This is something that is definitely worth noting. Only during my hike here in Makiling did I experience being sucked by one of these critters. It’s not a pleasant experience of course, but it’s not that unpleasant that you’ll want to let the opportunity pass. Come on, you know you’ll feel like a legend when you tell your children that you were once bitten by a leech during your hike.
One thing memorable about the Makiling hike: LEECHES. It’s everywhere. After station number one, watch out for those slimy creatures. They will literally suck the life out of you. A good spray of alcohol over its body will do the trick and force it to detach from your skin. Be sure to check your body for leeches every 5 minutes or so.
Admission is free, though the fee for the guide (as well as the guide himself) is mandatory. It would be cheaper if you go here on a large group because the guide fee remains the same and could be divided evenly among the members of the group. Lunch is not provided so you may want to bring your own food, just make sure that no trash would be left along the trail. Let us preserve mother nature!
Reaching the top…
After a couple of hour’s worth of hiking, we finally reached a good spot for taking pictures. It’s a real compensation from all the hiking we’ve been doing.
Some tips for those planning to hike in Makiling:
-Make sure to wear long sleeves and pants, the leeches will definitely make a meal out of you otherwise.
-Keep a bottle of alcohol ready, or an atomizer for that matter. Again, for the slimy critters.
-Wear cotton gloves if possible to make gripping branches and bladed grasses an easy task.
-Plug those ears! Edmund told us that there are cases wherein leeches entered a hiker’s ear. Hearing the story is scary enough, what more if it happened to you.
Expenses of Makiling hike:
– 500 pesos (about 10$) for the guide payment (guide is mandatory by the way).
-Additional tip for the guide is optional (make sure to give him a tip, though. Accompanying hikers and making sure they’re safe and sound is difficult.)
-140 pesos (1.41$) bus fare for the two of us. This may vary depending on your location.
How to get here?
- From Manila, take a bus going to Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
- Get off at Los Banos crossing. From there, take a jeepney with the UP Los Banos signboard.
- This jeepney will go inside the campus where one can get off for the hike to the mountain.
- From Manila, take a bus going to Lucena
- Ask the driver to drop you off at Barangay San Bartolome (Near an overpass)
- Take a tricycle and ask the driver to drop you off at the registration area for hiking Mount Makiling
NOTE: We used the second method of going here. All our photos and experiences are based from the Makiling traverse trail and not from the UPLB trail.
Contact them through:
Contact Person / Office
Dr. Portia Gamboa-Lapitan or Mr. Robert Cereno
The Director, Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems
College of Forestry and Natural Resources
University of the Philippines, Los Banos, Laguna
Tel nos. : (049) 536-3572; 536-2637
E-mail address : firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy traveling guys!!