Guide in Climbing Yushan Peak or Jade Mountain in Taiwan

Jade Mountain, Yushan Peak, Trekking Taiwan

Never in my wildest imagination did I consider doing an international climb because I know it will cost me arm and leg and the hassle in preparing for the climb itself is already tiring. I only have little to almost no knowledge about Yushan Mountain. All I know Jade or Yushan along with Mt. Kinabalu in Malaysia and Mt. Fuji in Japan comprises the infamous Asian Trilogy. 

When AirAsia offered cheap flight to Taipei, I immediately book a flight and included Yushan Peak on my itinerary. Did my own little research to prepare for my first international climb. I've read through blogs that temperature at the peak could drop below zero degrees and altitude sickness is not uncommon. This post a significant threat to me due to the coldest I have been was at Mt. Pulag where I experienced a 4°C, and the highest I've been was Mt. Apo at 2,954 masl compare to Yushan which is 3, 952 masl. I am skeptical if these experiences would be enough for me to survive the mighty Yushan Mountain. 

We were lucky when our first attempt to get a permit was approved by Yushan National Park. Getting a permit is really tricky because decision is made by lottery. May the luck be in your favor! After securing our permit, we also need to book our stay at Dongpu Lodge. Day 1 of your Yushan Climb starts at Dongpu Lodge. They also offer van that can take you directly to Yushan National Park office as well as to Tataka Saddle which is the jump off point. Trail from Tataka Saddle to Paiyun Lodge is over 8 km. The trek usually takes 5-8 hrs depending on the weather and physical condition. Once you have reached Paiyun Lodge, they will be asking for the permit then you will be given bunk assignement. They serve food, but we brought our own to save money. After dinner, we sleep early to prepare ourselves for the final two hours ascent. Our Day 2 starts as early as two in the morning. We only had hot noodles and some crackers for breakfast just enough prepare our bodies for the cold and dark path going to Yushan Peak. The trail is narrow and steep, but I am more concern of the cold weather which is almost unbearable. Once at the peak, enjoy the view and fresh air. There is a stone marker where everyone poses to show their evidence of the ascent.

Congratulations you made it!!!  East Asia's highest peak.

Jade Mountain, Yushan, Taiwan, Alishan

Itinerary in Climbing Yushan/Jade Mountain. 

Day 1: Taipei to Dongpu Lodge.  Ride a high-speed train at Taipei bound for Chiayi. Then since there no more buses bound for Alishan when we arrived at Chiayi, we were left with no choice but to get a taxi. The trip was fast but quite expensive. The taxi driver drop us at Dongpu Lodge where we stay our first night. 

Day 2: Get our permit at Yushan National Park offise and Police Permit at the police station then Go to trailhead plus another 8.5km to Paiyun Lodge. Spent the night at the lodge to prepare for the final ascent. 

Day 3: Early morning climb to Jade Mountain MAIN PEAK then back to Paiyun then back down to trailhead. A local mountaineer gave us a ride and drop us off at Chiayi. 

DIY Guide Trekking Alicia Panoramic Hills in Bohol

Alicia Bohol, Binabaje Hills, Alicia Hills

Bohol is known for it's Chocolate Hills and the smallest primate Tarsier which is endemic to the area. But Bohol is more than that! Bohol is now gaining attention to adventure seekers and the like. Danao, Bohol became popular because of the adventure sport activities they offered as well as the famous sea of clouds. Now, another municipality in Bohol starts to draw interest among outdoor enthusiast because of its panoramic hills and jaw-dropping landscapes. I am talking to Alicia Panoramic Hills. They have hold three successful Alicia trail running and mountain bike events in the past. Bohol indeed has lots of potential in terms tourism. 

I was lucky to visit Alicia Panoramic Hills in January 2018 before it went viral in social media. Last weekend I got another chance to visit it again and I noticed few changes. There are now lots of resting station built along the trail unlike before when the trail is purely cogon grass and some tress. Also at the campsite, there is a long table built which I personally think should not be there. It only obstructs the view.

I have to admit that I underestimated this hill when I first climbed it in January 2018, probably because of its height. I had major climbs in the past but Alicia or Binabaje Hills made me use my four limbs to reach its summit. We climbed after a heavy downpour which is a bad idea. The trail was super slippery that I have to grab even the smallest weed on the ground to help pull myself up. The weight on my backpack makes it even more difficult. I was the last one to reach the peak because I have to secure my footing not to get slid. Better be safe than sorry. To date, they are now offering different routes or trail (A, B, C). Trail A being the longest and most difficul, Trail B is quite shorter, and Trail C is more like of an executive trail. At the top, you will have a 360 degree view of Alicia's neighboring town, you could also see the beautiful Mother Dam. 

Bohol, Alicia Hills, Binabaje Hills

How to ge to Alicia Panoramic Hills?

There are daily trips bound for Tubigon, Bohol from Cebu Pier 3. From Tubigon Terminal, you have the option to either get a van or public bus bound for Carmen, Bohol. Please note that the van or the bus wont leave until it is filled with passengers. Your drop off point will be the Carmen public terminal where you can get a trike directly to Alicia, Bohol or wait for a public bus bound for Alicia. Tell the bus conductor that you will alight at Alicia Municipal Hall. Then get a habal-habal that can take you to the jump off point of your Alicia Panoramic Hills or Binabaje Hills climb.

How much would it cost?

MV Starcraft Cebu to Tubigon P325*2
Tubigon to Carmen (van)         P100
Carmen to Alicia (trike)            P150
Alicia to Jump off                        P100*2
*bus Alicia to Carmen is P40. Carmen to Tubigon is P50
Guide Fee                                       P500/3=P166
Registration Fee                            P30
Total                                        P1,190+P166+30=P1,386

Additional Information and tip. 

1. Start your trek early in the morning if possible or late in the afternoon. Trail is more of continuous assault and trail is open so you can expect exposure to sun. Make sure you are well hydrated, wear your sunblocks and other protective gears. Exposure to direct sunlight can easily exhaust your energy.
2. There are now three trails that you can choose. Talk to your guide which one you like.
3. There is no water source so make sure you have enough water supply for personal consumption and for your group.
4. The trail gling down will be lots of cogon grass so wear gloves, sleeves, and leggings or pants to prevent any cut.
5. There is a toilet at or near the campsite.
6. Due to its steep uphill slope, the trail can be very dangerous especially during rainy season.
7. MV Starcraft and Fast Cat has daily trips to Tubigon, Bohol. For rate and schedule, check it here.
8. Suggested sidetrip after your climb: Can-Umantad Falls and thr breathtaking Candijay Rice Terraces.
9. And as always, please practice LNT principle.

DIY Guide in Climbing Mt. Igcoron of Antique

Mt Igcoron, Antique, Valderrama, Panay Island

I have been to Panay Island for couple of times and I can say that in this island lies some of the greatest mountains in the country. There's Mt. Madjaas which is the highest mountain in Antique along with Mt. Nangtud and Mt. Baloy which completes the Panay Trilogy. Many experienced mountaineers considered this three peaks as one of the toughest mountain to climb not only in Panay island but in the country. 

The beauty of the mountain is not only measured by its height. There is this one mountain in the small town of Valderrama, Antique which draw my attention. It only stands 700 meters above sea level compare to Mt. Madjaas which is 2113 masl. What makes Mt. Igcoron stands out from its neighboring mountains is its saw-toothed peaks and 90 degrees cliffs. 

From the jump off point you will pass by some rice puddies as shown in the picture below with Mt. Igcoron in the background. From there you will see how intimidating its jagged peaks are. Climbing its peak is not just a walk in the park with a near vertical ascend. For acrophobic, better think it twice. Going up to its summit is amost like wall climbing and one has to grab cogon grasses like ropes. Make sure you have gloves and sleeves with you, otherwise you'll taste the cut from a cogon grass. The knife-edge shoulder is also not for the faint-hearted as you will see 90 degrees cliffs on both sides. From its peak, you will be rewarded with a 360 degree-view of green ridges and higher mountains of nearby peaks. 

Mt Igcoron, Valderrama, Antique

How to get to Mt. Igcoron. 

1. From Iloilo City take a bus bound for Antique and ask the bus conductor to drop you off at Ilaures crossing. Travel time is about 3 hours.

2. From Crossing Ilaures, there are habal-habal that can take you to Valderrama proper or if you are traveling in a group you can get a trike instead. Once in Valderrama head to its municipal hall or police station to register and for safety purposes. Contact Mr. Tim Ledesma (Valderrama Tourism Officer) – 0917-507-5409 prior to your arrival. He might be able to provide you with a guide.

3. From the municipal hall, get another habal-habal that can bring you to barangay Binanogan

4. At Barangay Binanogan there is an available tour guide there if you have not gotten any guide yet.

1. Iloilo-Crossing Ilaures (Van) PHP 150
2. Crossing Ilaures – Brgy Binanogan
➡If Motorcycle PHP 150 (One Way Rental)
➡If tricycle
    a. Ilaures- Valderrama  PHP 25
    b. Valderrama Proper – Binanogan (Motorcycle) PHP 15
3. Tour Guiding Fee – PHP 500/Tour Guide

Cebu's Best Waterfalls: 5 Hidden Treasures for Your Cebu Bucketlist Adventure

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. This quote from Hillary Cooper explains my natural attraction for waterfalls. Part of my love for waterfalls stems from my passion for photography. I know it's not only me but everybody loves them. For some, it's the sound of the rushing water over the rocks. For others it's the sheer beauty or tranquility of the waterfalls as it sprinkles drops of water into our face.

Whatever power of attraction waterfalls may posses, we all know that waterfalls has the ability to draw tourist in the area. Kawasan Falls in Badian, Cebu is known not only to locals but as well as to foreign tourist. Here are my top 5 waterfalls in Cebu for your bucketlist adventure:

1. Tinubdan Falls in Catmon, Cebu. This is my new favorite waterfalls in Cebu because in spite of it's raw beauty and charm that can easily draw attractions, the locals maintained its rawness. There is also less crowd compare to other popular waterfalls in Cebu. When I get there, there was almost no visitor in the place. So you will get to enjoy Tinubdan Falls all for yourself. 

How to get to Tinubdan Falls
Go to North Bus Terminal and ride any bus going to Northern part of Cebu. Drop off point would be Sitio Katambisan, Catmon. From there, you can ride a motorcycle going to the drop off area. Guide is not required, but if you want to go river trekking please get a guide for safety purposes. You will need to trek maybe for 30 minutes to get to the waterfalls. 

📍North Bus – Catmon (Fare) – Php 78.00
📍Catmon – North Bus(Fare) – Php 78.00
📍Habal-Habal (Back&Forth) – Php 100

2. Mangitngit Falls in Carmen, Cebu. This waterfalls comes second on my list not only because Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) which supplies water in Cebu gets its water from here, but also because I like how this waterfalls is being surrounded by different kind of trees. To date, it's possible that tourist are no longer allowed to go near the waterfalls due to dangers of landslides. When I get there I noticed some small landslide in the area. The waterfalls still looks beautiful from Middle Earth Mountain Resort. 

How to get to Mangitngit Falls. 
From North Bus Terminal: Ride a bus bound for Northern Cebu and alight at Carmen Public Market. Fare is around P55. From there, you can ride a habal-habal foe P40 per head. There is an entrance fee of P50. 

3. Pityak Falls in Dumanjug, Cebu. Third on my list is literally unexplored and unexploited. That being said, expect that there is no available store in the area that you can buy food or supplies. At the entrance you can easily see Pityak Falls but you have to go up further and you will see amazing rock formations and some cave like pool that will blow your mind away. 

How to get to Pityak Falls. 
From South Bus Terminal: Ride a bus bound for Barili. Drop off at Gaisano Dumanjug. Fare should be P105. Then from there, you can get a habal-habal for P60 that can take you directly at the foot of Pityak Falls. 

4. Lusno Falls in Ronda, Cebu. This waterfalls is also located on the Southern part of Cebu. If you plan of visiting Pityak Falls might as well include Lusno falls in your itinerary because of its proximity. Before you will see its beauty, it requires to trek for about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Another reason to include this on your list is because there is no entrance fee to this hidden paradise. It is totally for free.

How to get to Lusno Falls. 
Ride a Barili bound buses from North Bus Terminal and drop off at Centro proper. Once you get to the town of Ronda, you can hire a motorcycle or habal-habal to take you to the basketball court in Barangay Langin. Then this is where your trekking begin.

5. Cambais Falls in Alegria, Cebu. Last but definitely not the least is Cambais Falls. This waterfalls is popular among mountain climbers because usually they make this as their side trip after an arduous climb at Mt. Lanaya. It has two distinct levels but I prefer at the first level. Here you will be amaze of its turquoise blue water surrounded by trees, vines, and ferns. There is a huge limestone where the waters are dripping and on this limestone, I saw some kids doing some cliff jump. Not sure if it's safe for adults because the basin does not look like that deep.

How to get to Cambais Falls. 
Ride a bus from South Bus Terminal that is bound for Alegria Cebu. From the town proper, you can hire a habal-habal that can take you to the jump off point which looks like a parking lot. The hike can take roughly 30 minutes. Once you arrive at Cambais Falls, the entrance fee is 50.

So that wraps up my top 5 not-so-touristy waterfalls in Cebu. This province has a lot to offer, you just have to explore it!

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