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    Thursday, January 15, 2015

    Mt. Apo via Kidapawan

    The Grandfather of Philippine Mountains
    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    'Apo' is a Filipino term which means 'master' or 'grandfather.' With an elevation of 2,954 metres (9,692 ft) above sea level, it is considered as the highest mountain in the Philippines.  It is located between Regions XI and XII (Davao and Davao Del Sur provinces).

    There are several trails that can be used to reach the summit. The easiest route, which was suggested to us by Mr. Romi Garduce, would be the Kidapawan-Kidapawan trail (Entering through the city of Kidapawan and taking the same trail back). Here, the average hike would take 3-4 days. We were able to complete the hike in 2 days, but we suggest, expecially for first-time climbers, to have at least a 3-day itinerary to fully enjoy and appreciate the hike. There are also trails coming from Davao Del Sur for advanced climbers.  PinoyMountaineer.com has a difficulty classification of 7 out 9 for Mt. Apo. It is also advisable to conquer this mountain during the summer months (March and April). However, if you have the right amount of winter gear, then hiking during the cold months won't be a problem. It doesn't snow there, but temperature can drop at a temperature as low as zero degrees celsius.


    Country: Philippines
    Region: Davao (Region XI) and Davao Del Sur (RegionXII)


    We took the Kidapawan trail, with an entry point from Brgy. Ilomavis, Kidapawan City, North Cotabato.

    For the Kapatagan trail, the entry point would be Brgy. Mainit, Digos City, Davao Del Sur. And for the Sibulan trail, it's Brgy. Sibulan, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.


    The entry point for this whole expedition would be Davao City. From Manila, we took an Air Asia flight but one can also book a flight with Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines to get there.  Travel time is around 1 hour and 45 minutes.

    If travelling by land, prepare yourself for a 24-hour ride, at least. Check the fares of Philtranco Bus company on the link below or call (02) 851-8078 and (+63) 9182288831 for schedule and reservation:

    Travelling by sea is also possible. This route would take almost 2 days of travel, though. It is WG & A Phils. Inc (Superferry) and Sulpicio Lines Inc. which offer trips to Davao City. If you are interested, you may visit the website below:

    From the Davao City airport, get a cab to take you to Gaisano Mall, where the van terminal bound for Kidapawan City is located.

    Tell the driver of the van to drop you off at the municipal hall. There, you will need to register at the tourism office, have the orientation about the mountain, and secure a guide and porter.


    This article was posted on January 2015, but please note that our Mt. Apo climb happened on November 2013.

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds
    Touchdown Davao International Airport
    Our journey started in Davao where we prepared our stuff prior to the climb.

    From the airport, we went to Gaisano Mall to buy some canned goods and butane gas. Make sure you have enough supplies for 3 days. Also, consider buying extra since you will also be providing the food for your guide and porter.

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    If you will be carrying a backpack as huge as ours, don't attempt bringing them inside the mall. It’s a must to leave them at the baggage area located at the basement.

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds
    Apo Mineral Water, only in Davao
    After getting some stuff, we had an early dinner and prepare ourselves for another 3-hour ride. Finding our way to get to Kidapawan City was not that hard as the people in Davao City were absolutely friendly. Just make sure to prepare your Cebuano words as most of the people there speak this dialect. They won't consider you a tourist, unless you tell them you are not familiar with their dialect. The guards pointed us to the van terminal located in front of the mall, and so we met our itinerary smoothly.

    It was already 6:00 PM when we departed from Davao City to Kidapawan. The last trip from Gaisano Mall to Kidapawan is around 8 PM and the fare is Php 150.

    All tired, we just slept during the whole trip.  At 9 PM we reached the municipal hall, but the tourism office was already closed! Here comes the backpackers' approach of finding a place to stay.

    We asked the driver where we can find a cheap room, so we can stay for the night. The driver of the van was kind enough as he never let us unload our backpacks without a place to stay. He took us just behind the municipal hall, where we found a street lined with inns/motels. For only Php 500 per room, air-conditioned and has a private cr, it's a pretty good deal.

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    We woke up at 5:00 AM, left the inn and went out to have our breakfast. There are some small eateries just around the corner, which serve very affordable meals. For only Php 70, you can have 2 cups of rice and a pork dish.

    After being energized by the yummy breakfast, we then headed to the tourism office.

    Since Mt. Apo is a protected area for biodiversity and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, it's must to have the 15-20 minutes orientation prior to the climb. We were also asked to present our medical certificates but since we didn't have this document, a waiver form was given to us instead so we can proceed with the climb. The officers there were also kind enough to secure our non-mountaineering stuff so we didn't have to bring unnecessary junk during the climb.

    We were then introduced to our guide, Raymond, who gave us some pieces of advice in reaching the country's highest peak.  Also, we rented a 70-liter backpack for our porter to help him carry our stuff. We saw some porters using only a rice sack for the things they need to carry. But, in order to somehow help them, you can provide a backpack.  Getting a porter is also a way of helping the locals as it is one of  their sources of income.

    When everything was all clear for the climb, we boarded the habal-habal that would take us to the jump-off site at Brgy. Ilomavis.

    mount apo, mt. apo, davaoAt 10 AM, our trek started at an unexpected trail. The habal habal stopped at the middle of the road. We then turned left. And the dream of conquering a 9,692-foot mountain has just come true!

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    Mount Apo is considered a stratovolcano and emits sulfurous gases and steam which cause the mountain to always be surrounded by smoke, making the trail look foggy.

    Our porter decided to move ahead of us so he can prepare our lunch and by the time we get to the first campsite, our lunch would be ready. We had to take our lunch before we commence to the first assault to Lake Venado.

    According to our guide, ideally, the trek should start as early as 7 AM in order to reach the base camp before dark. In our situation, we just enjoyed the trek and prepared ourselves for a night trek.
    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    Here, we passed through a makeshift bridge as the first river-crossing. This little bridge was secured enough to help us get to the summit.

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    We had to cross a few more rivers before making it to the first campsite.

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    We reached the first campsite after two hours and had our lunch there.

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    Then, just after 30 minutes, we had to resume our trek going to Lake Venado.

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    As the darkness covered the hushed forests, we turned our headlamps on and continued ahead.

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds,lake venado

    We reached the base camp of Lake Venado at around 10 PM. It was very cold and we were already starving. According to other climbers that we met, the temperature dropped at 6 degress celsius. This probably was Mt. Apo's 'warm' welcome to its guests. It rained a little as well.

    We pitched our tents, took the late dinner, and quickly retired to sleep. From Lake Venado, it is still a 3-4 hours of trekking to get to the summit.

    We got up at 2 AM as we were wanting to chase the view of the sunrise from the summit. Though the warmth of our blankets couldn't get us out of the tent, we had to move or miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    Assaulting the mountain's formidable summit totally earned everyone's respect. As the cold battered us, and the strong winds from the east capsized our bodies, we never stopped as our burning passion to meet the summit, overshadowed Mt. Apo's trials.

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    At last, after 13 hours, we finally met him. There at the summit, everything was exhilarating. All the body pains were all worth it!

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    We had to wait for the clearing to witness the much-awaited sunrise from the summit.

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    The rainbow just made everything more amazing. It was like our reward for reaching the peak.

    Conquering a mountain summit's is always been dubbed as only half of the climb. Indeed, the challenge of getting back was more difficult as our guide pushed our itinerary to a two-day climb instead of three.

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds, lake venado

    Our original plan was to take Magpet trail but due to the lack of food supply, we had to take the same trail back as it will save us more time.

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds, lake venado

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds, lake venado

    Back at Lake Venado, we took some photos, bonded with nature a little, then packed our things and prepared for the knee-breaking descent.

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds, trail

    Moving downward was actually more difficult as the trail became muddy, making it more slippery due to the unpredictable rains.

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds, local guide kid

    We met this little guy along the trail and insisted to carry our stuff. Wanting to help the locals, like him, as much as we can, we allow him to carry one of our small backpacks. We then gave him some money and a headlamp. These people don't have any source of light when trekking or even when crossing the rivers in the dark.

    We left Lake Venado at 11 AM and completed the trek back to the jump-off at 8 PM. According to our guide, Raymond, we did good as first timers as he rarely does this kind of itinerary because it is more dangerous to do river-crossing at night. But, the backpackers did it! Woohoo!

    Since it was already dark, we had to stay at the nearest Lake Agco Resort to freshen up and rest for the night. This can also serve as a side trip in Kidapawan. One of the scenic spots at the foot of Mt. Apo, the resort offers a mud pool, a sulfur lake, a small waterfall, and a jacuzzi. The mud pool, with its deep chocolate color, is a very relaxing treat as it warms the body.

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds, mountaineer certificate

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds

    The next morning when we got back to the tourism office, we were so excited to get our certificates. And we took some pictures of it, of course!

    mount apo summit, mt. apo, davao, sea of clouds, taxi driver

    We just would like to add a little story behind this man. He's the taxi driver that took us back to the airport. We weren't able to get his name, but he's also one of the nicest people we met in Davao. His stories are endless - from Jinky Pacqiao's job when she was still single, to Aling Dionisia's mansion in Saranggani and how she would like to be called Donya Dionisia instead of Aling Dionisia. He also talks really loud, almost breaking his voice, while telling us all of these stories. That 30-minute taxi ride just sealed our unforgettable trip in Davao.


    The tourism office of Kidapawan will provide the guides and porters for your climb.


    To know the budget needed for this adventure, here first is the list of our expenses:

    Guide fee  - Php 2,400 (Php 800 per day, minimum of 3 days)

    Porter - Php 1000 (Php 350 per day, paid for 2 days plus tip)

    Registration - Php 2000 (Php 500 each)

    Habal Habal - Php 1000 roundtrip (Php 500 per habal habal roundtrip, we took 2 habal habal)

    Room in Lake Agco Resort - Php 500 (overnight)

    Room in Kidapawan - Php 1000 (Php 500 per room, we rented 2, overnight)

    Van fare - Php 1200 (Php 300 each roundtrip, we are 4)

    Taxi fare - Php 300


    Total Expenses - Php 9,400 (excluding air fare)

    If you are a group of 4, like us, it would be at Php 2,350 each exluding air fare.

    DID YOU KNOW...?

        Lake Venado, which is  located at the foot of Mount Apo, is the highest lake in the Philippines. It has an estimated surface elevation of 7,200 feet (2,194 m above sea level). Unfortunately,  in 2007, a Filipino mountaineer coming down from the peak of Mount Apo, drowned in the lake.
        On May 9, 1936, Mount Apo was declared a national park by President Manuel L. Quezon.
        The mountain is home to over 272 bird species, 111 of which are endemic to the area. It is also home to one of the world's largest eagles, the critically endangered Philippine eagle, which is the country’s national bird.
        The first recorded successful expedition to Mt. Apo was led by Don Joaquin Rajal in October 10, 1880. Prior to the climb, Rajal had to secure the permission of the Bagobo chieftain, Datu Manig. It is said that the Datu demanded that human sacrifice be made to please to god Mandarangan. Fortunately, the datu agreed to waive this demand, and the climb commenced on October 6, 1880, succeeding five days later. Since then, numerous expeditions followed.

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    1. Hey Bud!

      The island is wonderful, and You have figured out how to get some truly cool clicks.I recollect when I stayed outdoors almost an island I was feeling so glad .Still when I retain those days I do a reversal into those days ,savoring the delightful moments.I took outdoors outfit when I stayed outdoors there ,It is truly crucial for everybody who goes out for camping.Stay agreeable for the duration of the night with resting pads,military outdoors tents, inflatable cushions and bunks. Be set up for anything with outdoors essentials like spotlights, blades and bug splash.


      Fred Carterr


    Item Reviewed: Mt. Apo via Kidapawan Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Unknown
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