February 4. I have lately become a weekend warrior, finding myself on a new trail of a new mountain every weekend. Well, I am taking this trekking too much to heart. What can I say? I am enjoying this my found activity so much that I am already looking forward to a new one even before I finished trekking one. So far this year, I have completed four mountains in a span of seven days.
My opening salvo for the love month is yet another weekend trek. My destination this time around is Nasugbu, Batangas where a group of friends and I will trek one of its numerous mountains, Mt. Batulao. It is slowly emerging as a beginner-trekker’s haven with its relatively easy trails, rolling hills and scenic views.
How To Get There
From Manila, ride a Nasugbu, Batangas bound bus at Coastal Mall along Coastal Road, Pasay City. Trips start as early as 4 AM. Just ask the driver to drop you off at Evercrest Golf Course. One way bus fare is PHP 105.00 and travel time is around two (2) to three (3) hours. Upon alighting at Evercrest, either ride a tricycle or walk down to the base. Tricycle fare is PHP 30.00 per person and travel time is around 20 minutes. Walking down takes about 30 minutes.
Mt. Batulao Details
Elevation: 811 MASL
Trail Class: 3
Days Required: 1 day
Hours to Summit: 2-3 hours
My group and I converged at Coastal Mall at around 4 AM. The bus left the terminal at around 4:30 AM and we reached Evercrest at 6:30 AM. Upon alighting, the early morning breeze made us shiver down to our spines. The cold is somewhat reminiscent of Nasugbu’s neighbor, Tagaytay City’s cold climate. Fortunately, I brought a jacket. My friends weren’t as insightful as I was though.
At the drop-off point, we hired a tour guide, Kuya Anthony. Please note, however, that as of writing, tour guides, although recommended, are not required. Some of the groups we met on our trek didn’t have any guide. We rode a tricycle going down though we’ve noticed that some hikers opted to walk. When we were on the road down, the ride got very uncomfortable because the rode was bumpy and muddy. Moreover, tricycle’s sidecar is quite low. My bag even nearly fell off the ditch.
When we reached the base, the sun was already rising above the horizon. We then started our ascend to the summit at around 7:30 AM. On the village we passed by, the locals were encouraging the trekkers to buy walking sticks, telling them that they’ll need it. From the village, it took 10 minutes before we reached the registration area. It wasn’t long before we reached ANOTHER registration area. We were quite appalled especially when our guide mentioned that there would be five registration areas in all. Wow!
After the second registration area, we reached the fork where we have to decide which trail to take. With the opening of the new trail, numerous options became available. The first is the traverse, using the Old trail in climbing up and then the New trail in going down. Another option is to use the New trail in the ascent then the Old trail in the descent. The last option is to use either the Old trail or New trail on both ascent and descent. To explore the entire mountain we opted to take the traverse.
Going down the Old trail, we saw a couple of crop fields. We also met locals riding their horses on the way to their farms. Every once in a while, it is great to immerse in such an environment, taking time off from the bedlam of urban living. Such is the simplicity of rural living.
After a couple minutes walk from the fork, we reached the third registration area. It was soon followed by another registration area, the last one before the final assault. At Camp 8, I was saddened to see trash all over the area. Unfortunately, unlike the other mountains, the guides here don’t bring bags to place trash. This is my first time to witness such mess and I am disgusted by the nonchalance I saw. Had I a spare bag, I would’ve picked up all those trash. To my fellow trekkers, always remember the LNT principle – LEAVE NO TRACE.
The final assault was the first test of our endurance as we had to scale steep-angled slopes. Some slopes were very acute at 60 degrees. Some stretches were also slippery because of dried soil. It was quite a challenge maintaining balance so please observe caution on this part. If you have to go on all fours then so be it. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Between Camp 8 and the summit, there are a couple of roped segments. The first one is to assist to trekkers on traversing the steep slopes while the second one is used to ascend the rock portion. However, one can opt to scale the rock portion without the need of the rope. Again, please observe caution when opting out of the rope. Once you get this roped segment, the summit is within reach.
It was around 9:30 AM when finally we reached the peak of Mt. Batulao. The scenic 360-degree view is a sight to behold. One can see the provinces of Batangas and Cavite. Moreover, the sea and Taal Lake can also be seen, together with the some mountains like Mt. Talamitan. Fortunately, the skies were blue and not outcast. We stayed long enough to take pictures but left immediately to avoid the crowd that is already converging at the summit.
The new trail is quite narrow and fits one way traffic only. One miscalculation can make you plunge on the slope. The new trail is a bit challenging though not as steep as the old trail. The descend became even more challenging because of the two-way traffic on the narrow trail.
At around 10:30 AM, we reached Camp 10 where a festivity was organized to commemorate the anniversary of the New trail. Food was cooked and served too ALL trekkers. These festivities are being held every first weekend of February. Now that is something for you to consider for your future hike.
Camp 10 is also the last of the five registration areas. When we’ve had our fill and paid our registration fee, we started our descend back to the base. We reached the base at around 12 Noon. We hired again another tricycle to bring us up to the main highway, and just like the first time, it was uncomfortable but hey, we’re used to rolling with the punches.
Thoughts on Mt. Batulao
- Mt. Batulao is beginner-friendly. However, caution must be observed as some parts of the mountain are very steep and slippery.
- The view from the top is stupendous. It makes all that challenging ascent worth it.
- I’ve seen trash on some of the camps. Please be reminded of the most important principle in trekking and travelling, “Leave No Trace” behind. If you have spare bags, pick those trash up.
- There are numerous registration areas. It would be best if the registration area is done in one area. Unfortunately, Mt. Batulao trek is not yet regulated.
0400H Meet at Coastal Mall
0430H ETD to Evercrest
0640H ETA Evercrest. Breakfast.
0700H ETD to base
0730H Start trek
0800H ETA Fork. Turn left for the Old trail.
0845H ETA Camp 8. Start final assault to summit.
0930H ETA Peak. Photo ops.
0945H ETD to Camp 10
1030H ETA Camp 10. Early lunch
1200H ETA Base
1230H ETA Main highway. Wash up.
1400H ETD to Manila
Total expenses is PHP 528.00 as broken down below. Budget is good for a group of four.
PHP 105.00 – Bus fare from Coastal Mall to Evercrest
PHP 37.50 – Tricycle fare from main highway to base (PHP 150.00 for a group of 5)
PHP 20.00 – First registration fee
PHP 30.00 – Second registration fee
PHP 20.00 – Third registration fee
PHP 20.00 – Fourth registration fee
PHP 30.00 – Last registration fee
PHP 125.00 – Guide fee (Fixed at PHP 500.00)
PHP 37.50 – Tricycle fare from base to main highway
PHP 103.00 – Bus fare from Evercrest to Coastal Mall.