Mt Isarog: Hiking at the Heart of Camarines Sur

Soaring at 1966 MASL, Mt Isarog is a paradise at the heart of Camarines Sur. It has rich biodiversity with its very own mossy forests and verdant crater, an overview of Bicol Peninsula, and a glimpse of majestic Mt. Mayon. Mt Isarog is the second highest mountain in Bicol.

View from Mt Isarog Peak

After 1 week of stay here in Bicol seeing once and again the jaw-dropping view of the white sand island of Calaguas and visiting my relatives and friends from different parts of Bicol, my last stop was Naga. Our group REDM or Relax, Extremely Daring Mountaineers, made this hike possible lead by Dio with help from Jojo Villareal of Kaddlagan Outdoor Shop in Naga. Jojo took care of our permit, guides and transportation going to the jump off at Panicuason. (See details of Itinerary and Expenses of this hike by clicking here.)

Since I was already in Bicol before the event, I stayed in Naga the night before.  I stayed at Sunny View Hotel and paid just 450 pesos. It was an air-conditioned room with cable TV, hot & cold shower and a comfy bed. It’s located just passed the bridge after you turn left coming from SM Naga. Their cheapest room costs just 250 pesos, perfect if you’re on a tight budget and is looking for a place to sleep.

Contact Details: (054) 473-9848 / 473-8771

Room Rates (per night)
Single Fan Room P 250
Matrimonial Fan Room P 350
Singe Air-con P 450
Matrimonial Air-con P 550
Twin Air-con P 550
Triple Air-con P 800
Family Room P 1200
Extra Person P 100
Extra Mattress P 100

Photos of are available on my other entry. Simply click here.

The following day, I met up with them at Naga Central Bus Terminal who all came from Manila. We went for a quick breakfast at a nearby food stall then went to buy return tickets for Manila then off we go!

After securing our tickets, we went to Peñafrancia Shrine for a quick stop as well as to get some supplies from a nearby grocery and market place.

 

After getting all the supplies needed and some picture-taking, we then head to Brgy Panicuason which served as the jump off of our hike. Travel time is around 30 minutes. We secured guide and fixed all our stuff before the actual ascend.

Off course non-stop picture-taking on our way up going to DENR for registration…

After registration, our trek began. The ascend was very gradual and relaxed. The only challenging part was actually seeing Limatiks (bloodsuckers). Everyone was conscious or should I say paranoid of having a close encounter with the little creature. Haha! Despite this everyone managed to stop whenever there’s an opportunity for a quick snapshot along the trail.

Limatiks were more active during the first 2 hours of trek and as you get higher the less chance of getting a close encounter. We decided to have lunch at Camp 1. The trail is mostly mossy forest-covered with big trees. Few more stops at Camp 2 and Camp 3 until we decided to stop at Camp 4 at around 5:30PM where we pitched our tent. We wanted to go to Camp 5 but water source were closer at Camp 4.

After pitching our tent, dinner was prepared then finally we had a chance to eat a full meal.We had Pasta and Bicol Express. Yum! Dinner was followed by Socials where we talk about all sorts of things, experiences, plans, and to simply have some fun. Camp 4 is pretty much safe from Limatiks. Luckily!

During our socials we managed to finish 7 bottles of GSM Mojito and 1 bottle of Emperador Light but no effect to everyone. It was cold that night but pretty much manageable as long as you have jacket.

The following day, wake up call was 6AM. After coffee and light breakfast, we started trekking the summit. Trail was easy because we didn’t have any backpacks but it would be quite challenging if you have one as you have to crawl at some point and go under or over some branches or roots to move forward.

We reached the summit 2 hours after at around 9AM. We didn’t manage to see the crater view as it was all covered with clouds, we went further up and climbed the trees to see the view from the top. It was magnificent! Thank God!

Slowly the clouds covered the view so after almost an hour after few snapshots and group photos we hurriedly descended to reach the Campsite to prepare for brunch (breakfast and lunch). Some took water whilst some started cleaning and cooking.

After brunch, we started packing our things and cleaning our surrounding following the “Leave No Trace” policy. It was a bit challenging going down since the trail are slippery and are all covered with trees, you won’t see any beam of light touching the ground.

It was around 3:30PM when we reached the DENR station. Whilst waiting for the rest, we decided to go to Malabsay Falls which is roughly 15 minutes walk. Entrance fee is free of charge if you hiked Mt Isarog but if not, you have to pay 10 pesos.

We just wanted to see the falls out of curiosity but due to its grandeur and beauty we decided to take a dip on its ice-cold water. It was a relaxing feeling. The enjoyment didn’t last as we had to immediately go back to get to the jump off. After taking some photos we went back to DENR to get our things and trek back to  jump off station (GSP Camp Maria Aurora).

Due to lack of area where we could shower and tidy up, we went to Sulat Pool to clean up and change clothes before heading back to the main city. Entrance fee costs 50 pesos and cottage rental costs 150 pesos. The don’t have a descent restroom or shower room so don’t expect anything. Water is abundant as it all comes from the mountain.

We managed to leave Panicuason at around 6PM and arrived at Naga City Bus Terminal at around 6:30PM. Our scheduled departure was at 7:15PM and with so little time to spend, some decided to have a quick dinner and some just bought food. We wanted to catch a later departure but since most are fully booked we had no choice but to get the 7:15 bus

Only if we had more time to spend here…

This was my very first hike here in Bicol and is definitely going to be one of the most memorable. More than the Limatiks, cold breeze of air, beautiful flora and fauna, amazing view from the top, good friends, warm smiles and happy faces, it’s the unexplainable feeling and contentment only nature can fulfill that makes it memorable.

Camarines Sur has indeed a lot of things to offer. I know haven’t seen much about this place but simply having the opportunity to hike at the heart of Camarines Sur, you’ll surely fall in love and ask for more. Undeniably one of the best in Bicol and a must visit.

For details of the Itinerary and Expenses, click here.

Bicol Trip: After Calaguas & Before Mt Isarog

No plans, No nothing. The title says it all. Given 5 days without any specific plan this was how our trip went whilst in Bicol. Random Visit to friends and family.

Daet – Naga – Matacon – Legaspi – Rangas – Legaspi – Matacon – Naga

So after Calaguas. Tired and sticky, we went straight to Malayan Tourist Inn for a quick shower. To no avail, all shower rooms are being used and we badly needed to take a shower with so little time left for us to catch the last trip to Daet via UV Express. Ate Karina of Malayan Tourist Inn offered to bring us to their house to get a shower. Her daughter hurriedly took the motorcycle and assisted us all the way. It only took us roughly 5 minutes to finish. It was quickest shower we’ve had. ☺

Back in the Inn located right in front of the terminal, we found out that the last trip just left. No way!!! Good thing Ate Karina gave us an alternative option to get to Daet.

Luck was still on our side when another passenger going to Daet asked us to go with him and share the fare expenses. We rented a tricycle for 250 pesos to get to Talobatib. It was roughly a 30-minute ride. At Talobatib, we tried waited for a Daet bound bus until we’ve decided to have dinner at a local diner, Paksiwan Sa Centro. We were halfway through finishing our food when a bus arrived. We decided to catch the next one but after almost an hour, no bus seems be stopping anymore.

Not taking any chances, we took another tricycle ride to get to Labo together with 7 other passenger and paid 20 pesos per head. I literally rode at the back side of the tricycle standing all the way holding my big backpack. Nice! It was a 15-minute chilly ride to get to the van terminal (UV Express) at Labo right beside a drugstore. We paid 25 pesos each to get to Daet which only took 20 minutes.

We stayed for a night at friends house. I also had the chance to see my god daughter. Cute!

We had few drinks and lots of catching up.

The following day after leaving my friend’s house and before heading further south, since my Lola who’s in the hospital wanted a Formosa Pineapple, we went to the Public Market and bought 5 pieces of Pineapple. It costs 20 pesos per piece. Tricycle fare costs 10 pesos
per head.

We then rode a tricycle again going to Daet Central Terminal to catch a van going to Naga. Tricycle fare from the Public Market to the Central Terminal costs 25 pesos. Van Fare via UV Express from Daet to Naga costs 180 pesos per head. We left Daet at around 3PM and arrived 2.5 hours after. Not that sleepy, I think I played Candy Crush all throughout the trip whilst my girlfriend was sleeping. Haha.

Before catching a bus bound for Legaspi, we had some few snacks. We then checked the departure times of buses leaving for Legaspi, Last trip is 6PM so instead of going around, we hopped on the bus to secure a good seat. We paid 70 pesos and asked the despatcher to stop at Matacon Centro. It was roughly an hour and a half ride.

We’ve decided to visit my Lolo and my cousins on my mom’s side. My uncle picked us up and much to our surprise everyone was like anticipating our arrival. It was nice seeing them all again. An endless conversation talking about anything under the sun.

Since we’ve spent so much time on the road, a much needed sleep was all we wanted. We slept for a good 10 hours. We had late breakfast and off we left again for another long trip to see my father’s hometown. It’s been 10 years since the last time I visited the place.

Just before we left, my Lolo required us to have lunch first. After lunch, we then walked along the Old PNR Railway going to the highway to get a bus going to Legaspi.

After 30 minutes of waiting, that’s 1230PM, a bus came. It was slow a 2-hour ride. It would normally take only an hour if you take a van via UV express. At Legaspi Central Terminal, we took a van instead of a bus going to Rangas Juban via Bulan to cut our travel time. Fare costs 150 pesos.

From Legaspi Grand Terminal anyone can pretty much go anywhere in Bicol wih lots of option to choose from. Either via Van, Bus or Jeepney. Savemore Supermarket is situated right next to the van terminal for anyone who wants to do last minute grocery or simply grab a food before heading anywhere.

We left Legaspi at around 3PM and arrived at Rangas 2 hours after. It was drizzling when we arrived. It was like Dejavu. We walked along the road as if we perfectly know where we’re going. We stopped for a quick bite of street food then my cousin saw us  and assisted us to get to my Aunt’s house and Lolo’s house.

My Lolo barely recognised me. He’s already 83 years old and is hard of hearing. I mentioned my Dad’s name then he smiled. It was seeing him again.

It was time for dinner so we went to my Aunt’s house. The rain continued…
We wanted to visit my Lola who’s in the Irosin District Hospital so despite the rain we asked if we could rent a tricycle going there. Whilst waiting, we watched a local news. My girlfriend was amazed by the fact that she’s watching a news in a local dialect she could barely understand. Not my first and I kind of like hearing it though I don’t have full knowledge of the dialect.

At around 8PM, we rode a tricycle to get to the hospital to finally see my Lola. It took us around 30 minutes to get there but it was well worth it. She took care of me since I was a kid and I couldn’t afford not to visit her given the fact that I was in Bicol. She was a bit sleepy when we came but got fueled up when we gave her the Formosa Pineapple she’s been craving for. She’s a fighter.

After almost an hour, we left. It was really cold as the rain continued all through the night. We slept early so we could leave early the following day. We managed to get the number of one of the van driver going to Legaspi who leaves Bulan at 6AM but failed to wake up early enough. The bed weather made as lazy to even grab a coffee. ☺

We failed to take a shower as well because it was so cold. Haha..

Just outside the house, Mt Bulusan can be seen. It’s an active volcano which I also plan to hike soon. It’s so near yet so far.

We started waiting for a ride back to Legaspi at 8AM but only able to get a bus after an hour via Queens. Fare costs 130 pesos.

It was 11AM when we reached Legaspi Central Terminal. As always even from the last time I was here, you’ll have a panoramic view of the majestic Mayon Volcano.

Minimum tricycle fare to get around downtown would cost you around 10 pesos per head. Fare cost may also vary depending on your destination.

We were suppose to stay here overnight but my girlfirend needed to catch a bus trip to Manila in the evening to attend to an important matter the following day. Not to waste time, we went straight to Embarcadero to grab some souvenir shirts at Bicol Shirt City and have lunch at Bigg’s Diner. We had Tuna Salpicao, Cajun Chicken and Porkchop with Laing. Yum!

My shoe needed some reinforcement for Mt Isarog climb so after lunch we looked for a repair shop stand. I was able to find one across LCC mall and paid 100 pesos. Not bad for quick fix. ☺

We wanted to look around and have a massge but since we lack time, we decided to just get a tricycle to get to the terminal. We did a quick stop at Savemore Supermarket to buy food for dinner then took a van going to Matacon (My Mom’s Hometown) via Iriga. The van left 4PM and arrived at Matacon an hour after. Fare costs 80 pesos (10 pesos higher than bus fare, half the time it will take you if you take bus).

My girlfriend prepared Chicken Afritada and Adobo for dinner while I packed her stuff. We had an early dinner for a better chance of getting a good seat for her going to Manila. After we left to bring her to the terminal, just few minutes after, a DLTB Cubao bound bus stopped. She didn’t want to leave and she was supposed to join the Mt Isarog Climb but had to go for something more important. It cost her 650 pesos. (Fare can range from 550-800 via AC Bus & 300-400 via Ordinary Bus)

Upon my return at my Lolo’s house, I slept early. Since they’ve got no TV and I am too lazy to go to my Uncle’s house, I decided to call it a day.

 Potable Water at My Lolo’s House

 Dirty Kitchen

The following day, after breakfast, I packed my things and prepped up before saying goodbye to everyone. I left for Naga just before lunchtime. Fare costs 70 pesos and it took me 2 hours to get to Naga Bus Terminal.

From the bus terminal, I walked for about 30 minutes just trying to look for Sampaguita Inn. I walked going to the right coming from SM Naga only to find out it was on the opposite direction. So I walked back passing SM Naga and the bridge. Just after the bridge you’ll see on your right the Sampaguita and Sunny View Hotel. I wanted to call Sampaguita Inn first to check availability but no one seems to be answering the phone so I took the chance of going there directly. To no avail, the cheapest rooms are all booked. I then went to Sunny View to check and it was the same. Both still have Single AC room and Sunny offers the cheapest at 450 pesos a night so I took it. It was a good deal! AC, Cable TV and Hot & Cold Shower.

After check-in, I rested for few minutes then went to SM Naga to have some coffee. I noticed this fancy little coffee/cake shop called Rafabels on the west side of the mall and decided to grab one. The price was unimaginably low compared to most coffee shops you’ll find in Metro Manila. A good slice of Chocolate Cake and a cup of Cappuccino all under 150 pesos? Definitely a treat!

After coffee, I decided to try the Aloha Burger from Jollibee before heading back to the hotel. It was also great! Yum! It was time for me to rest for an early start the following day.

5 days just passed. It’s time for me to rest and prepare for an arduous climb going to Mt Isarog.

Check my next entry featuring my Mt Isarog Hike.