Bluewater Resorts

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mt. Kanlaon | Guintubdan - Wasay Traverse

*We also have an article about our aborted Mt. Kanlaon climb here:

The sunny sky above gave me a good contrast from the last time I was in Bacolod. The small hovering clouds gifted me energy as it swiftly passed below the sun. I was sitting by myself on a rock that, 6 months ago, was deeply submerged down a flash flood. I was smiling incessantly as the heavens finally gave us a good chance to step atop the highest point in Visayas, the most beautiful and majestic place I’ve been to, Mt. Kanlaon. 

The morning breeze circling the sleepy town of Guintubdan greeted us as we made our way through the established pathway to the summit. Some portions of the trail were easily recognizable as the memories of our aborted climb ran past through my mind.

“This was the fork I went through”, I told our group in multiple occasions as we slowly trod the surprisingly easy route. Yes, it was definitely the same ground our group took but the circumstances were very different this time. It was different in a whole positive reason.

The trail was beautiful, it was enchanted. If back then, hordes of leeches surrounded the place, this time, there were only butterflies that flew about. Beautiful bugs and insects crawled fervently as the sun gave its warmth. Oh! It was definitely different this time, for the better of everything else around.

After an hour hiking through the gradually ascending slope, we were rewarded 2 hours of straight forward trail. I can’t even remember a single instance of this part where I panted for air. 6 months ago, this place was flooded with leg-deep fast flowing mud, this time, there were only ankle-high fresh grass that massaged our feet all throughout the hike.

After 3 hours of paced trekking, we reached the campsite we got stuck in the last time we were here. We happily ate our lunch as we reminisced the 1-day suffering we had to endure inside a brewing thunder storm months ago. The atmosphere was different during this sojourn as the only sound that surrounded the place were of stories and laughter.

We rested for about an hour then decided to continue with the path. It started to become steeper after the 1st campsite but the chill of the mountain air refreshed our bodies to an energized state. The light of the sun would come and go every now and then but it still gave us assurance that it won’t leave us during this traverse.

With every bit of hope engulfing our hearts, we vehemently stepped, one by one, on top of the Pagatpat Junction; the place where we will be spending the night. As we reached it at an early time of 01:45 PM, we resoundingly decided to try and assault the summit however, fate would deem the time unfit as the clouds slowly tormented us with its cold and numbing rain.

We light heartedly went back to camp at the same time the clouds started to disperse. We just took it as a good sign that our assault must happen on the next morning. By the time we cooked dinner, shimmering stars replaced the sun as our light source. They guided us into the night as we slept soundly, hoping for the same good weather the next day.

By 5 AM in the morning, we were all up and ready for the assault, giddily looking up above as the constellations of stars serenaded our morning. Energy was floating all throughout our group even without the help of breakfast. With each quiet step, we continued our journey.

The trail to the summit can be reached in 30 minutes but the lure of the morning sunrise stopped our group from time to time. It was still a bit dark when we started but the backdrop was finally unravelling. Little by little, our pupils dilated until finally, the majestic view of the whole Margaha valley halted our group to a complete stop.

It was magical, it was divine. I know this might sound corny but what I’m saying here is real. It was like a dream or a reverie, it was spectacular. I couldn’t even use all positive adjectives to describe how the enchanting view unfolded through my eyes.

It was very much surreal. I had to stop and gasp as the excitement drained all of the air inside my body. It was extraordinary.

This was definitely the most beautiful and most spectacular place I’ve seen and somehow, the sun gave the crater an added dramatic entrance to enhance the feeling.

We had to reach the summit but it was very hard to move seeing how the light started to engulf the whole valley. It was hard turning our backs from this majestic view but the thought of another grand vista waiting for us gave much inspiration.

In a matter of minutes, the grassy soil started to become volcanic rocks. The slippery brown trail suddenly became a scree of sharp pebbles. I was very excited that I ran hard to reach the top until our guide ordered me to stop. And stop I did when another imposing scenery slapped my eyes with beauty. I was finally standing on top of the highest point of Visayas. I was stepping beside the crater rim of Mt. Kanlaon.

The feeling of being sandwiched between 2 natural marvels was phenomenal. At my right was the grand Margaha valley.

...and to my left was the main crater rim of Mt. Kanlaon.

To add up to our excitement, the soft clouds that covered us through this adventure dispersed wildly as the color blue dominated the whole sky. I will not call this experience “revenge” but it’s still a redemption of sorts. A disappointing aborted trek, half a year ago, redeemed by this perfect climb. Because of this, I think I can now finally let go the ghosts of that harrowing day.

We stayed on top for about 45 minutes, taking all kinds of photos we could to document the splendour. The towns of La Carlota, Guintubdan and other Negros municipality could be clearly seen from above.

We bid farewell to Kanlaon as we descended through the Pagatpat Ridge. I kissed the kissing stone for giving us this perfect weather as we swiftly went back to camp. After 20 minutes of running and jumping, we were all standing at the junction, ready to eat our hearty breakfast.

By 09:00 AM in the morning, all of our gears were packed as our bodies recharged for the hardest part of the traverse, the intimidating Wasay Trail.

The hike to Mambukal started with a 30-minute steep assault atop the Makawiwili peak. With the sun finally in full bloom, the heat and humidity started to sap the energy off our abled bodies. We reached the site after half an hour of hacking and slashing through the overgrown steep path only to be caught off guard by the much steeper downhill trail we had to pass.

Thankfully, the guardian clouds we always had, enveloped the sun as we went down the overly steep route. We jumped, hopped and pulled, taking every necessary precaution not to injure ourselves in an accidental fall. With the same time of 30 minutes down, we safely reached the PMS lagoon.

We rested for a bit in this place and continued on after much respite. The path, from then on, changed sporadically from a steep uphill ground to an abrupt downhill trail.  We passed by the creepy SAMOC lagoon and had no view of the RMS lagoon. We ate our lunch by the footpath then continued stomping uphill that drastically changed to downhill for an hour or so.

The trail constantly changed during the primary hours of this traverse but thankfully, we reached a ridge-like place where the trail became straight forward and astonishingly beautiful. Moss laden trees were scattered all around, giving the place a fairy tale-like yet creepy atmosphere. They were soft, like pillows yet cold like stone.

We continued on, tramping hastily, until we reached the place called ‘hardin sang balo’. I, being the laziest of the group, decided to forego the exploration choosing a short slumber instead. My respite was going for about 30 minutes when they finally returned but unfortunately, the trail water they were supposed to get was already red in color hence, contaminated. We moved on from there.

Jam at the hardin
Ron climbing
The trail from then on became a gradually descending path. 30 minutes from the hardin, we reached the old NPA camp where we were supposed to stop. Regrettably, the water source near the campsite was also contaminated thus, making us decide to camp in a different place.

After an additional half an hour of hiking, we reached one of the imposing checkpoints of the Wasay trail. A tree so huge that a full grown man would look like a dwarf standing next to it.

By 04:45 PM, we all reached the final camp. As I laid down on my hammock, I thanked God for the wonderful weather through the whole duration of the climb. I was hoping for at least, an okay experience and yet, we were there at the camp site, having the happiest times, after experiencing the “most perfect” circumstances a group could have.

Everything was indeed perfect! We had great weather, superb views, an excellent group and to top it all off, we have been accompanied and taken care of by the most amazing guides. Kuya Ronald was our entertainment man, Kuya Gudo was the silent but funny type and lastly, Kuya Ruchell was the elder statesman. We all had a wonderful dinner, had the happiest socials and proceeded to have the most peaceful sleep ever.

At the first sight of the sun, we ate our breakfast, packed our things and ran as fast as we could to Mambukal resort. In a matter of 2 hours’ time, we were there, sitting in front of the restaurant that served Avocado smoothie.

I savoured every bit of that refreshment as it became my reward for finally completing this journey. It was sweet and tasty, like this 3-day adventure we just had. With this in mind, I can definitely say that Mt. Kanlaon is perfect! It is undoubtedly the most beautiful, most epic, most enchanting and most spectacular place I’ve been to and I wouldn’t even think twice on doing the whole of it all over again…. Provided that the weather cooperates!!!

***additional photos

Mars-like environment
Peeking Ivan
Margaha Valley
Pagatpat summit viewpoint
main crater rim
the 500 year old tree

Group Itinerary

day 0 (no trek)

03:00 - meet up at NAIA terminal 4
06:00 - departure for Bacolod
07:00 - arrival at Bacolod, Go to Ceres South Terminal
07:30 - departure for La Carlota
09:00 - arrival at La Carlota, buy supplies, breakfast
11:00 - departure for Guintubdan
12:30 - arrival at Guintubdan, meet guides, lunch
14:00 - visit nearby  waterfalls
15:00 - explore Guintubdan town
17:00 - prepare dinner 
18:30 - dinner, socials
21:00 - lights out

day 1 (5 hours 45 minute trek)

05:00 - wake up, prepare breakfast
06:30 - breakfast, prepare gear
08:00 - start trek
08:30 - arrival at Busay Buslugan, dip
09:00 - continue trek
11:00 - arrival at camp, lunch
12:00 - continue trek to camp 2
12:30 - arrival at camp 2
13:45 - arrive at Pagatpat junction
14:30 - summit assault
15:30 - abort summit assault - too foggy
16:00 - back at camp 
16:30 - explore Margaha valley
17:30 - back at camp, prepare dinner
18:30 - dinner, socials
20:30 - lights out

day 2 (7 hours and 45 minute trek)

04:30 - wake up call, prepare for assault
05:00 - start trek
05:20 - arrival at kissing stone
05:30 - margaha valley view
06:00 - arrival at main crater rim, explore area
07:00 - trek back to camp
07:30 - back at Pagatpat junction, prepare breakfast
08:00 - breakfast, break camp
09:00 - continue traverse
10:00 - arrival at PMS lagoon, rest
10:10 - continue trek
10:30 - arrival at SAMOC lagoon
11:00 - arrival at RMS lagoon view point
11:30 - lunch along the trail
12:30 - continue trekking
14:30 - arrival at Hardin Sang Balo, explore
15:00 - continue trekking to campsite
15:30 - arrival at old NPA camp
16:00 - arrival at the big tree
16:45 - arrival at junction camp site
17:30 - prepare dinner,
19:00 - dinner, socials
22:00 - lights out

day 3 (2 hours trek)

05:00 - prepare breakfast
06:00 - breakfast, break camp
07:00 - start trek to Wasay ranger station
08:00 - arrival cemented road
09:00 - arrival at Wasay ranger station, log out
09:30 - continue walk to Mambukal
10:00 - arrival at mambukal, lunch
12:00 - explore Mambukal
17:00 - departure for  Bacolod city
19:00 - dinner
20:00 - lights out

day 4

05:00 - wake up call
05:30 - board taxi to airport
06:00 - arrival at Bacolod-Silay airport
08:00 - departure for Manila
09:00 - arrival at Manila

How to get to Mt. Kanlaon ( Guintubdan )

From Silay-Bacolod airport, proceed to Ceres South Bus terminal and ride a bus to La Carlota. Get off at La Carlota and ride a jeep going to Guintubdan located near the market.  Last jeepney leaves at 3pm. 

From Mambukal, ride a bus going to Bacolod City. The mini buses are just outside the gate of Mambukal. Last bus leaves at 5pm. If staying overnight at Guintubdan, you can use the DENR facility, just inform Sir Angelo or your guide beforehand.

Who to legally contact when climbing Mt. Kanlaon ( all trails )

You can send an email to PASU Sir Angelo Bibar ( of Bacolod DENR for the permits as well as for arrangement of guides and porters. He's going to provide you with the needed forms to fill-up for the permit. 

You can also consult him with the updated rates of permit, guides and porters. He is the contact person whatever trail you're going to take. It's much better to contact him weeks or even months before your preferred climb dates to secure your slot since they are controlling the volume of climbers.

Our guides and porters were Kuya Ronald Estelloso, Kuya Ruchell Estelloso, Kuya Rudy and Kuya Gudo.  We personally requested for them as they were the best guides a group can ever have. 

*we would like to thank Sir Angelo for all the help. Shout out to Kuyas Ronald, Gudo, Ruchel and Rudy for the awesome experience. Babalikan natin ang Margaja at Makawiwili explorations
*special thanks to Ivan, Ron, Jam and Bryan for accompanying us in this splendid adventure.
*visit Ivan's account of the trip here:


  1. Beautiful! This makes me want to go to Kanlaon! What month did you go?

    1. We went there last april, i think a perfect month to go. The first time we were there was july at binagyo kami. so mas ok talaga pag summer months.


  2. sa context po ng mountaineering, hinde sya expedition kundi trek. not to downplay yung achievement ninyo dahil hinde biro ang Kanlaon,pero para lang nasa tamang context ang iyong readers.salamat.

    1. Yes, I already knew that before writing the article. Expedition is somewhat longer and has a broader/wider goal/objective E.G. for research and discovery. It was just an artistic choice of word so not to overuse the terms, "climb", "trek", "adventure" and "trip". But thanks for the heads up and will definitely think about this on our future articles for readers like you who stick to technicals and literals for this site not to mislead and misguide. Thanks for visiting by the way

  3. (on the huge tee) "full grown man" haha! im still a young man not yet a full grown hahahaa. nice article.

    1. Ok not a full grown man but a still growing man who is young at heart! hahaha. Till our next climb / trip.

    2. haha a man who does not age haha yup till the next walk... (lakad hehe)

  4. congrats sir..isa sa pinaka magandang bundok na napuntahan ko..babalik ako next year via. guintubdan wasay trail din...

  5. Magkaka bundok post na ulit kami soon! YAY!

  6. Kanlaon is beautiful I should try to go there..I'm from Negros..

  7. Replies
    1. im from
      bacolod pag my plan pwede bang sumama para may kasama naman po ako

  8. Hi, ask ko lang, nag email kasi ako kay sir angelo bibar. he gave me the necessary docs for the permit. then sabi nya, yung pinaka permit makukuha lang after paying dun mismo sa PASU office sa bacolod. Nagtataka lang po ako, bakit di kasama sa itinerary nyo yung pagpunta sa PASU office. please advise naman po kung paano yung ginawa nyo. It's really a big help. Thanks. -Kaila

    1. Yes. Dun nyo makukuha pag ngbayad na kayo. Bale nung first time namin dumaan kmi early morning sa office nila. Etong 2nd time namin, luckily na ung guide namin is pupunta sa office nla a week before our climb so ang ginawa namin is pinadala ko ung bayad namin thru lbc kay sir angelo and pinadala sa guide namin ang permit. But if hindi napunta ung guide namin a week before, dadaan din kmi ealry morning sa office nila.


  9. Hello,

    I plan to go there next August.
    Can you confirm that your trek was during August ? Isn't it the rain season ?

    1. Our first trek was on august and we had to abort our climb since there was a storm at that time. Here is our account on our august climb:

      This was our 2nd climb which was on April.


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