Mind you, it wasn’t my first time to climb the tallest and most majestic mountain of the Philippines, but I was still thrilled to give in to one of my friend’s invitation to explore the mountain during this year’s Lenten season. Maybe what made me say yes this time was the different trail to be explored and of course the remarkable scenery that awaits me the instance I reach its peak. Before, our jump off point was in Bansalan, Davao del Sur but this time we opt to choose Kapatagan, Digos City as our entry point and Kidapawan as our exit spot.
Our group was headed and organized by the employees of Davao City Water District. Before climbing,we made sure that all the necessary permits including our medical certificates were secured since without all these, we will be restricted from climbing Mt. Apo.
We left Davao City at around 5am and arrived at Mt. Apo Mountaineering Information Center of Kapatagan at around 8 am. We didn’t stay that long in the area though since we already filled up allthe necessary forms, waivers and permits to allow us to climb.
At 9 am we were already issued with our respective identification cards and during this time we were about to head to our start off point in Sitio Mainit. Along our hike, we passed by different vegetable farmlands such as those of potatoes, carrots and a whole lot more.
After around 2 hours of trekking, we reached the first camp site of Sitio Paradise at around 11 am. From there we met one of the members of the city of tourism of Digos who facilitated in letting us sign some papers to prove that we already passed by the said area. Such procedure was strictly implemented to ensure our safety and for proper monitoring of our location from time to time.
After our short stop over at the first camp site we immediately resumed our climb. At around 2 pm we already reached Sitio Sabwag which is surrounded by lush forests. From Sitio Sabway we passed by trees which toppled over that’s why it was necessary for us bend and bow down just to cross the area.
Before the sun totally bade goodbye, we finally arrived at Sitio Godi. Sitio Godi became our last stop over point during our first day in our Mt. Apo quest. It was where we set up our tents and cooked our meals to suffice us for the entire night and to prepare us for our journey on the 2nd day.
During our 2nd day, we woke up as early as 6 am to prepare for our breakfast and to get ready for another long day climb.
At 9 am we already started trekking and this time most of the pathways were pretty steep. We passed through huge boulders which were very challenging but the surrounding views along the way were undeniably irresistibly beautiful. Unlike our first day when we were encompassed mostly with tropical rainforests, during our 2nd day, we were surrounded primarily with huge rocks and the sight of bonsai plants and wild berries which are actually edible. Plus along the course of the trek, the summit was already partially visible.
At around 12 noon we arrived at the Boracay view point. The area earned such nickname because the place is mostly enclosed with white sand likened to that of the famous Boracay Island. Being a place of solace we opt to stay here for lunch and afterwards we resumed climbing again.
By 3pm we rushed our way towards the peak of the mountain since it was already raining so hard. The portion where there was heavy rainfall already seemed like cascading waterfalls so without delay, we secured all our important belongings to protect it from being drenched. At around 4 pm we finally reached the peak of the mountain and upon finding our camp site we arranged our tents immediately and prepared our food thereafter. When everything was settled I wandered around the campsite and was surprised when there were actually people who were selling commodities with prices almost quadrupled its original price. After my short roving session, our group chose to sleep early so we can witness and capture the picturesque sunrise.
Woke up early at 530 am to see the breathtaking sunrise. We picked to climb PEAK 3 of Mt. Apo since among its many summit points, it was believed to offer the most clear and stunning sunrise spot which overlooks Davao City and even Mt. Talomo. We stayed there for more than an hour to truly take pleasure of the gift of nature. Afterwards, we went back to our campsite to get ready for our trek and to indulge on our breakfast meal.
At 9 am we already started trekking our way down the mountain. Since it rained the night before, the pathway was very slippery and dangerous so we really took our time to be cautious. During that time a lot of people were still climbing their way towards the top.
At 12 noon we arrived at Lake Venado. The place is deemed to be more convenient because mini stores were already dotted in the area, not to mention comfort rooms were also set up in preparation for the summer season but definitely not free of charge. Majority of the climbers set up their tents here but we chose the lower camp site since we were still waiting for our other group members to arrive. At approximately 2pm we already hiked our way towards Koong Camp.
We reached Koong Camp at about 5 pm so we didn’t waste any of our time and set-up our tents. Just like Lake Venado, there are also several stores situated in the area which were put up by the Manobo tribes. This part of Mt. Apo is considered to be already a portion of the Kidapawan area which is recognized as the ancestral domain of the local Manobos. In this area, restrooms were available too for the price of 15 Pesos. During this time we no longer had the strength to cook our own meals so we just paid the locals to cook rice for us.
Since we were already preparing to go home we woke up at 6:30 am to have our breakfast.
At 9 am we trekked our way down further and passed by muddy and slippery paths.
At 11 in the morning we arrived at Mati-ao Camp and saw several people selling food while others were simply resting. We pushed ourselves to continue our trek but this time we had to cross the river for a few times.
By 12 noon we stopped at Lake Agco to sign some forms to attest that we already reached our destination. Furthermore since we already settled our exit fee beforehand, we had no problems in getting our certificate. Afterwards, we headed directly to Lake Agco Resort to take a relaxing plunge into its cool waters and to feed our hungry tummies of course.
At 4:30 pm we decided to depart Lake Agco with our elf-like vehicle. Our ride during that time was really slow since we partied during the whole trip.
Finally, we arrived safe and sound in Davao City at 10 pm.
On its whole, my journey to Mt. Apo was one hell of a tiring, nerve-wrecking yet pleasurable and adventurous trip at the same time. Being a nature enthusiast, conquering the tallest mountain of the country is indeed a dream destination that is very rewarding and worth reminiscing. And given the chance, with good company and enough zest for life, I would probably do it again for the nth time.