Planning your first hiking trip in the Philippines can be quite daunting – you are stuck thinking about all the beautiful destinations you can visit and at the same time feel startled about the risks and uncertainties you may encounter throughout the trip.
The Philippines may not be the best place to be a naïve traveler and it is not advisable for a first timer to visit different provinces without researching or getting prior feedback from locals. Being aware of potential risks should not scare you off from enjoying the beautiful trails and mountains, but should help you be more alert and prepared when traveling.
Below are some tips which can help you prepare for your first trip, and hopefully this can help open doors to many longer treks and long lasting life experiences.
Join A Hiking Group. There is no safer way to discover different Philippine trails and mountains by joining a hiking or mountaineering club. Hiking groups can help your discover trails which is suited for your fitness level, and is also a great way to make new friends! For a list of local hiking clubs, click here.
Discover Popular Mountaineering Tours. Tours differ from groups as it gives you the option to go at your own time. This is also a pricier option compared to joining a group as it is almost all-inclusive: tour guide fees, entrance fees, transportation and sometimes even food. For a list of my preferred tours, click here.
Equip Yourself With Basic Gear. You can do your first hiking trip without hurting your pockets too much, but it is important to have decent gear to maintain a comfortable hike. For day hikes, you will need a sturdy pair of hiking shoes, good socks, a quick-drying t-shirt, a raincoat and a comfortable backpack. Most day trip hikes have a little food store (carenderia) at the start of the trail, but it is advisable to already have your own water bottle and trail food (nuts, dried fruit) to keep you energized throughout the trip.
Less is More! One thing you will learn from longer hiking trips is you are better off carrying less. You will only start feeling the weight of your bag after you start getting fatigue, so packing the essentials is something you will learn more from experience.
Safety First. Aside from being aware of the different security risks in the Philippines, it is also handy to prepare yourself personally for the journey. Bring a basic first aid kit, water purifier tablets, sunscreen, and mosquito cream. Luckily, in most trails, you are less likely to encounter predators, but it would help to learn about poisonous plants, animals and insects who dwell in the area.
Exercise. Hiking is not a very exhausting activity, it should actually be refreshing and relaxing. Learning your own pace and maintaining a healthy level of fitness is important so the experience is enjoyable. Inclined treadmill training, stair climbs and also weight training will help you condition your body so you won’t experience fatigue or muscle pain after your first trip.
Choose the Right Season. The Philippines has two main seasons – dry and rainy. For beginners, I always suggest to avoid the rainy season (June – November). Even if it’s not raining in the city, there’s always a big chance that it has been raining in the mountains. If you’re ready for a muddy hike, then go for it. What’s an adventure without a dose of nature, anyway?
Have fun! Hiking is enjoyable, you get to acquaint yourself with nature and at the same time, have a good workout. It’s a good time to clear your mind and revitalize your soul. So go ahead and have fun! And don’t forget your camera!
If you have any questions, leave a comment below!