Mt Banahaw

Mt Banahaw

Descriptions of the vast dormant volcanic cone of Mt Banahaw (2177m), which looms over the entire southwest Luzon region, are almost always accompanied by the term ‘mystic’. The mountain is said to be inhabited by a host of deities and spirits – most famously Filipino revolutionary hero and poet José Rizal, who was executed by the Spanish in 1896. A group called the ‘Rizalistas’ believe that Rizal was the reincarnation of Christ. At least 75 cults have taken up residence on the mountain’s lower reaches, living their lives dedicated to the spirits of Rizal and others that supposedly dwell in Banahaw’s crater.

2Activities

 

Though Mt Banahaw offers some of the most impressive hiking in southern Luzon, the summit is off-limits to trekkers indefinitely to prevent environmental damage caused by unchecked trekking and mass pilgrimages up the lower slopes of the mountain. Contact Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB; MAP GOOGLE MAP ; %02-924 6031; http://bmb.gov.ph) in Quezon City to see if the mountain is open to trekkers and to enquire about permits. The main trailheads for both Mt Banahaw and Mt Cristobal are near the village of Kinabuhayan.

Besides Mt Banahaw, Mt Cristobal and Mt Banahaw de Lucban, another good hiking option in this mountainous region of southwest Luzon is flora- and fauna-rich Mt Makiling near Los Baños. Leeches are rampant on all of these peaks in the wet season.

4Sleeping & Eating

 

oKinabuhayan CafeGUESTHOUSE$$

( GOOGLE MAP ; %0916 221 5791; Dolores; r incl meals P3000; s)

The new incarnation of this B&B is on an ancestral farm about 5km from the tiny town of Dolores. Currently there’s just one cottage, but the main reason to venture out here is the food. Charismatic and slightly eccentric owner Jay Herrera crafts superb home-style banquet meals using fresh local ingredients in his makeshift kitchen. Book ahead.

oBangkong Kahoy ValleyRESORT$$

( GOOGLE MAP ; %0929 149 6458; http://bangkongkahoy.com; Kinabuhayan; camping P100, 4-7 person cottages P2000-3000, villas P3500; W)

In a spectacular natural setting wedged between Mts Banahaw and Cristobal, this fantastic ecoresort consists of a camping area and a range of open-air nipa cottages and villa-style rooms. It’s run by a passionate environmentalist who can arrange walks, birdwatching and other activities. The resort grows its own organic vegetables for the rustic restaurant.

8Getting There & Away

 

The Mt Banahaw region is best explored by private vehicle. The long drive around the base of Mt Banahaw via San Pablo, Tiaong, Tayabas and Lucban is one of the prettiest in the country, with the misty mountain and its foothills – Mt Banahaw de Lucban (1875m) and Mt Cristobal (1470m) – constantly looming.

Otherwise take a Jam Liner bus from Manila’s Buendia LRT to San Pablo or Tiaong (towards Lucena; P150, three hours), get off at the Dolores turn-off and pick up a jeepney or tricycle from there. Other access towns include Lucban and Tayabas.

Originally posted 2021-05-05 22:06:58.