Climbing Mt. Kanlaon a Week Before it Erupted

NOTE: This hike happened last 2017 when Mount Kanlaon reopened its trails for hikers. We were one of the many groups who were privileged to have climbed the highest landform in the Visayas during its reopening. However, just weeks after, Mt. Kanlaon has been closed once again after it showed volcanic activity and was raised to Alert level 2. Here’s a snippet of our hike.

If you’re following a lot of travel blogs, probably you have crossed upon the idea of the “quit-your-job and-travel-the-world” hype. While the idea seemed gutsy and bold and many backpackers have successfully survived with it, this does not hold true for everybody.

Coming from a typical Filipino family, the idea of leaving the 8-hour job and ending the “breadwinner” mores of society seemed tempting, but conscience kills and reality sucks. Yes, you can work online and become a digital nomad or do couchsurfing then apply for a part-time job wherever you have decided to go but the reality is… it’s not going to be easy, getting the job will never be easy, and financing your needs will not be as easy as you think.

Maybe it’s worth it. But practically speaking, this does not work for everybody. That’s why weekends are invented. My point here is, not everyone can leave the life they have right now; however, they can maximize the time they have to pursue their passion for adventure. Take for example our recent trip to Mt. Kanlaon.

Early morning treat at Mt. Kanlaon

Climbing Mt. Kanlaon over the weekend

Climbing Mt. Kanlaon – Visayas’ highest and most active stratovolcano – over the weekend is no joke. But it’s possible. Just like many other novices, I had qualms. Though I have been actively hiking since the beginning of this year, I know that Mt. Kanlaon is of another level. For the first time, I did detailed research on the difficulty of the trails, possible weather conditions, and wilderness survival against parasites.

Believe me, I kept on reviewing the itinerary, trying to convince myself that everything will work accordingly. So even without joining any pre-climbs and having enough sleep, I found myself with my fellow crazy individuals riding the earliest bus bound for Tangil Port Dumanjug, Cebu. Fortunately, we were able to arrive earlier than expected and were able to catch the first boat trip bound for Bolado Port, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental. And as if heavens were on our side, a bus bound for Kanlaon City passed by, advancing our scheduled itinerary.

Read: Active Volcanoes in the Philippines
Team No Sleep en route to Kanlaon
Ceres Bus bound for Canlaon City

We arrived at Kanlaon City by 8:00am, ate breakfast, registered at the Ranger Station, and bought additional supplies for camping. When everything was set, we then started the direct assault Sitio Mapot Base Camp. There we got our water supply for drinking since no water sources are available near the campsite of Mt. Kanlaon.

From Mapot Base Camp we passed unto a seemingly unending assault in a mossy forest with nothing but fallen trees (which were so difficult to dodge when you are bringing a 20 – 30L bag) and thick vegetation. Upon reaching the 1,500masl signage, we decided to take our lunch and sleep. Yes, we rolled out our flysheets and slept on the grounds.

As I shared earlier, we were all sleep-deprived aliens (except for our guide who spent his time digging a hole – I was wondering if he planned on burying the four of us for sleeping our asses out HAHAHA).

After gaining some energy, we continued the trek to Makawiwili Peak. Since we were 1,500 meters above sea level, we thought that we were nearing the aforementioned Peak but… we were not.

I am not actually the grouch type but for the first time, I started asking the guide how far we were, how many hours more do we have to hike, when we were going to arrive at the peak. I started to get frustrated – an obvious sign of exhaustion.  I am not me when I’m sleepy. So when the guide finally announced that the peak was near, we doubled our pacing.

Read: Why you should try sleeping outside your tents
Mt. Kanlaon as seen in Barangay Mapot
Kanlaon Mapot Base Camp
Kutitap Campsite. Last water source before going to Makawiwili Peak

I wanted to cry when we arrived at Makawiwili Peak. Everything was white (bondpaper view as they call it). We were all disappointed. Who wouldn’t? I mean, we spent almost the whole day battling against the heat of the sun, direct assault, and dodging those fallen trees just to see nothing at the top?

So we sat quietly on top. Reflecting. Consoling ourselves. Trying to convince that this was all part of a bigger plan. And just when we were about to give up, the thick fog began to clear. Lo and behold, Margaha Valley began to showcase its ethereal beauty.

Truly, glory comes to those who wait.

Those smiles though after seeing that clearing at Margaha Valley 

After savoring the beauty set before us, we then decided to carry on with the trek. It was another hour of battling against fallen trees, muddy trails, and exhaustion. Luckily, we arrived safely at the Eastern Saddle by six in the evening – two hours earlier than the estimated time of arrival on the itinerary. We then pitched our tents and cooked dinner. We were supposed to have socials but we were too tired to move after eating; so by eight in the evening, we were all sound asleep.

We agreed to wake up by four to witness the sun rising but it was only I who went out of the tent and watched the explosion of bright hues in the sky. Sadly, I forgot to bring my tripod to document such mesmerizing event. No doubt, some things are really meant for the eyes only. My companions woke up by six. We then agreed to prepare breakfast before we go to the summit.

Morning View at the Eastern Saddle Camp
Waking up to this early morning view at Mt. Kanlaon

From Saddle Camp, the peak was almost an hour’s hike. But it was all worth it when we saw the great splendor bestowed upon us. The crater was scary and beautiful at the same time. I can’t help but recall how many lives were triggered because of the eruption and commotion brought about by this mountain.

Mandatory Group Picture at the crater of Mt. Kanlaon

After eating breakfast, we started to pack our things and prepare for descending. Going down was my favorite part of any hiking activity. Was. Past tense.

Given that it has been a year since the trails were made open for hikes, the grass had grown taller and the trails became difficult to trace. We had to deal with all the slips, thorns, mud, and pain upon going down. It may only take four hours to go downhill but that four-hour descent was hell for me.

The nerves on my left knee got pinched after several hours of hiking and going down with only the strength of my right knee was totally painful AF. I wanted to cry. I kept cursing. I felt betrayed.

But you see, getting to the top is optional while getting down is mandatory. I have to continue. I don’t want to be an additional load to my companions who were also tired as I am. I have to finish what I started. And so with all the strength that was left for me, I continued the trek. I was trailing behind everyone else, telling them I was okay, trying to convince myself that I can still manage when in fact I was frustrated AF.

And after four hours and a half, we (I) successfully arrived at the farmlands of Mananawin, rested for several minutes, then decided to take a bath at the waterfalls nearby. From Mananawin Ranger Station we headed back to Kanlaon Tourism Office before going to San Carlos City where we embarked on a boat bound for Toledo.


Yes, all of these happened over the weekend. By seven in the morning, I was already in my workplace as if nothing happened. Of course, I was thoroughly, totally beaten up but I was able to prove that going to the mountains (or anywhere else) is possible (of course, you don’t have to do this every weekend, or else you’re on a suicide mission).

Sample Itinerary of Mt. Kanlaon (Mapot-Mananawin Trail)

Day 0

  • 23:00 – Meetup at Cebu South Bus Terminal

Day 1

  • 1:00 – ETD Cebu City to Tangil Port, Dumanjug
  • 4:00 –Tangil Port to Bolado Port, Guihulngan City
  • 5:30 – Bus to Kanlaon City
  • 6:30 – Breakfast at Kanlaon City
  • 8:00 – Kanlaon City Tourism Office; DENR Registration
  • 8:30 – Sitio Mapot Ranger Station; Meetup Guide
  • 9:30 – Sitio Mapot Base Camp
  • 12:30 – Lunch
  • 15:30 – Kutitap Refilling Station
  • 16:30 – Makawiwili Peak
  • 18:00 – Eastern Saddle Campsite
  • 19:00 – Pitch tent; Cook dinner
  • 20:00 – Lights out

Day 2

  • 6:00 – Prepare Breakfast
  • 7:00 – Summit to Kanlaon Crater
  • 8:00 – Back to Campsite; Eat breakfast
  • 10:00 – Downhill via Mananawin Trail
  • 12:00 – Exit Forest
  • 14:00 – Arrival at Mananawin trail; Bathe at the Waterfalls
  • 17:00 – Bus bound to San Carlos City
  • 18:00 – City tour; Body massage; Dinner

Day 3

  • 1:00 – Boat bound for Toledo
  • 3:00 – Van from Toledo to Cebu City
  • 4:00 – Home sweet home

8:00 – Report back to work

Mt. Kanlaon Expenses (excluding food and sidetrip City tour in San Carlos City)

  • Bus fare (Cebu City to Dumanjug) – P90
  • Boat fare (Dumanjug to Guihulngan) – P140
  • Bus fare (Guihulngan to Canlaon) – P60
  • Registration Fee/ Processing Fee – P650
  • Guide Fee – P750/ day
  • Habal-habal fare (back and forth jumpoff) – P250
  • Bus fare (Canlaon to San Carlos) – P90
  • Boat fare (San Carlos to Toledo) – P250
  • Van fare (Toledo to Cebu City) – P100

Contact Details:

Sir Ladie Lamis (Head of Canlaon Tourism Office) – 0928-638-4322

I’m not saying that quitting your job and following your dream of traveling the world is not for you. As I said, many have worked it out and survived gracefully, but again, traveling full-time is not for everybody. Just imagine what would happen to the world if we’d all quit our job and travel. A lot of businesses would close and the labor group would totally be a mess. Here’s what I’m telling you: follow your heart, see what suits you best, and spend your time wisely. Live an awesome life wherever your feet bring you. See you on trails! Or wherever our paths would cross.


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FRIENDLY REMINDER: Always be a Dakila. Be a responsible hiker. Be a responsible traveler. Let’s follow the LEAVE NO TRACE Principles and keep the integrity of creation. Let’s stop the hate; rather, let’s educate. See you on trails!