Summer is just around the corner. While the season means beach escapades for most people, I, on the other hand, started buying camping stuff online in preparation for my kind of summer. I wanted to camp, so I began researching for places to camp in the Philippines. My research online led me to this post about Mt. Batolusong. We (Tina and Me), decided to try it out for a day hike just to see how the camping grounds there look like. If you just like to camp without the crowd, check out my post about the 3 hidden campsites in Tanay.
I survived the trek despite having no experience in hiking and my lack of balance. That means, it is an easy trek for the majority. While writing this, my leg muscles are still aching but they are probably 80% healed since I can already go down the stairs faster compared to the previous days.
What to Bring for a Day Hike at Mt. Batolusong
Too much weight from your backpack might slow you down so travel light. I was anxious about not having enough water so I had with me 1.5 – 2L of water in a water bottle. If you can’t resist a plunge in the waterfalls, a quick dip in the river, or simply change after sweating a lot, then you need to bring extra clothes and packable towel. Food, enough food for you and the guide. I was too ecstatic for my first hike in years so I bought portable cooking tools and prepared our lunch at the camping ground. Had with me a couple of raw eggs safely locked in an egg holder, 2 canned meat and rice. A simple first-aid kit (band-aids, tabs for diarrhea, anti-histamine, liniment oil, small bottle of alcohol and cotton swabs) for simple emergencies. Phone or camera and extra batteries zipped in a dry bag for protection.
Lastly, never forget the TRASH BAG. As the famous adage goes, “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.” It’s quite a disappointment to see debris of trash on the path we trudged. A reminder for all of us to treat the outdoors with utmost respect. By keeping our trash, nature will provide us with many more wonderful moments, the locals will have more opportunities and the future generation will still have this mountain to climb.
- Deuter Day Hike Backpack 20L
- Klean and Kanteen Water Bottle
- Kovea Moonwalker Stove
- Kovea Cookset
- The rice container of this lunch box
Driving to Mt. Batolusong
From Metro Manila, Mt. Batolusong is two hours away but getting there is quite easy for me. Since I’m coming from Antipolo, it only took us less than 1.5 hrs. to get there. Using an app called Waze, you can search for “Palaya Farm” From Katipunan, just go by Marcos highway going to Cogeo. Along the main road, you’ll pass by Palo Alto where you’ll see garden cottages on your right – It’s a nice private garden, and you may want to take some photos here. Go past this place for about 10-15 minutes and you’ll see an arc on the left side with Barangay San Andres (or follow the signs to Palaya Farm) on it. Use Waze if you don’t want to miss it.
2019 Update: The roads to the registration area are already cemented so you can bring your small car if you want to. You will not reach Palaya Farm, watch out for the BASEKAMP sign. The first busy town is where you will register. (around 5 mins drive from the highway)
Parking in Mt. Batolusong
There’s a parking area near the Barangay Hall. Parking fee is P50 fixed rate including street parking. We were warmly greeted by the locals as they ushered us to the Brgy. Hall first, where the local tourism kiosk is stationed. For safety and security, all campers and hikers are required to register. Be sure to bring extra pesos for the environmental, parking and local guide fee. Remember, the fees we pay go a long way: protecting the environment and helping the locals earn from our activities.
Go past the basketball court, turn left and go past the cemented road and park under the star apple and mango trees just across the only elementary school in the vicinity. This I think is the best spot to park to shield your car from the sun. On the other hand, we noticed that some residents do sell fresh harvests from their backyards reasonably priced. San Andres is a remote mountainous barangay. Buying locally produced products help feed families and send children to school. It won’t hurt to trade a branded cup of joe for a kilo or so of caimito (star apple) from a local, right? In fact, I bought three (3) kilos of caimito for just P 90.00 and they taste so delicious.
Mt. Batolusong Hike
Mt. Batolusong is regarded as one of the beginner-friendly hiking trails in Metro Manila which is what made the trail so popular. The hike is about 1-2 hours to the camping ground depending on your speed and stamina. I took it for 2 hours because it’s my first time and I rest now and then. There are several rest stops and water source where you can refill drinking water or wash if you want. The hike is a bit steep. For a not so seasoned hiker like me, it was a bit of a challenge. It’s easy except for a 400-m steep stretch that is both hard going up and especially going down. There are lots of trees to shield you from the sun if you arrive a bit late. We arrived around 8 am and started hiking around 8:30ish. Per our helpful guide, the best time to start hiking is around 3 am so that its cooler.
We reached the small plateau like campground the locals call Duhatan Ridge. Duhat is a local Philippine fruit that’s commonly referred to in English as Java plum. The area is filled with Duhat Trees hence Duhatan. From the campground to the summit, will take around 1.5-2 hours more. To the falls, is around the same time. Both are steep. We didn’t go anymore because it was almost 12 noon and the heat was too much to bear at that stage. Not to mention, too hungry to literally do an extra mile (haha) which only means Mt. Batolusong needs a second try. A piece of advice, wear a good sunscreen to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun.
Surprisingly, there is a signal at the campground but no signal where the barangay is (weird!). With the breathtaking view of the mountain ranges of Rizal right before my eyes, it was tempting to post photos online immediately. But hey! I am on a digital detox so it can wait. For someone who spent almost half of his life online, it was a challenge to be “present” at that moment. We stayed for a while on the ridge and managed to cook lunch. I love the fresh yet strong winds at the campground:
Because Mt. Batolusong needs a second try, this time for an overnight camp, we took a photo of the rates to remind us of the fees we ought to pay:
Swimming in the Tanay River
We suggest swimming by the Tanay River and having your lunch there after the hike. To go there, just drive past Bgy San Andres. You will reach a Y-fork. Take the right lane (going to Mayton). You will reach the river. You may park beside the road.
For your travel, camping needs and essentials, shop at Philippine Camping Gears Online Shop.