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Mt. Mayo, Sibuyan
Province:  Romblon
12° 25.760N   122° 33.465E
Listed in Gallery:   Mountain Peak

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We went to Sibuyan in late December 2002, so things might have been changed, although Sibuyan island is not really the type of island that changes a lot. There is no airport on Sibuyan island, you have the alternatives taking the nice 'once a week' Virgin Mary (MBRS Shipping line?) or go like us to Batangas city, where you can find almost every afternoon a RORO ferry to at least Romblon island, if not all the way to Sibuyan island. The boat trip is 16 hrs, over usually quite rough waters. Did I mention that those boats were designed 30 years ago for river crossings in Japan?

We arrived at the pier in Sibuyan Island and got a tricycle to nearby Magdiwang, where we took a room at Vicky's Guest house. She doesn't have a sign, so better stick to the GPS coordinates or your driver and look for a two storey building that looks most inviting :-) It's one of my favorite accommodations in the Philippines, which feels more than a homestay and the food, which is taken on a huge pomelo tree covered porch in the garden, is even better. Nothing fancy though, people who need luxury shouldn't go to Sibuyan at all.

In the village we were soon approached by members of the hiking group, who helped us securing the permits (expect something expensive as in P500) for the national park and organizing the guides (which are mandatory to keep people on the trails and not to mess around), who have even a waiting list here. You will also need to shop for food, so allow at least one day for the organizing. Bring your own tent and equipment. There is a small spring close to the summit that might be enough for refilling the drinking bottles (confirm first!).

The starting point is at Manong Lee's place, a very hospitable and clever old man, for whom you should also reserve some time for talking and maybe have some gifts at hand to counter his generosity. Also in case if you don't run into any hiking group people, just grab a tricycle to Manong Lee, who lives a few km away from Vicky's, he will help you to get organized.

The hike starts more or less at sea level, and involves a few small river crossings in the lowlands, which might or might not end in wet feet. As soon the trail starts climbing, the forest closes and the GPS reception is over until the trees become smaller again. You should expect heavy rains year round, the driest time being March to May. The climb to Mt. Mayo only is not that dangerous, but gets steep and strenous towards the end. There are a few campsites on the way in the forest that were set up by the botanic expeditions of Kew Gardens, London. Flora and fauna is intense on the mountain. The trail moves upwards along a ridge and later even on exposed slopes, which are only covered by low bushes. The wind is usually like behind a jet engine here, be prepared to get new hair style :D

Close to the summit is a camp site sheltered by small mossy, orchid laden trees. Like in a fairy tale.
The view from the summit is definitely breath taking (or is the latter referring to the climb?), enjoy seeing some of the last undestroyed forest canopies in the Philippines.

You can extend the tour by hiking along the knife edge trail to Mt. Guiting-Guiting. The knife edge is even scarier than it looks on the photo, but the real scare is the mountain on the other side that is really steep and slippery, with too little to hold on. A few people lost already their lives here. We didn't feel like attempting it, because we were welcomed by heavy downpours, which lasted for 36 hours (that much for December ;-) ).

Still it was a fun experience, but this shouldn't be your first mountain hike.
If you are not a mountain climber, there is an array of waterfalls to visit. If you are just looking for the perfect beach, you don't need to go that far, just stay in Romblon island instead.

Waypoint narrative by: Volker_Heinrich 2005     follow Volker_Heinrich on Facebook



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