BINABAJE HILLS SUNRISE HIKE IN ALICIA, BOHOL
Binabaje Hills is an incredible ridgeline overlooking a stunning mountain range in Alicia, Bohol. It is in the north-eastern region of Bohol and can be accessed within an hour from the popular tourist town called Anda, which is where I was based for the journey. The hike itself is less than an hour up a very, very steep hill but the habal-habal ride there will add another 30-minutes to the trip.
WHERE IS BINABAJE HILLS
Binabaje Hills are in the town of Alicia in the north-eastern region of Bohol. I stayed in Anda when I hiked the Binabaje Hills and it was convenient but not perfect. I had to travel all the way to Alicia the day before the hike to visit the municipal town hall to inquire about finding a guide. Once I arrived at the town hall they were very helpful and lined me up with a guide for the next morning but as a tourist, I believe you need to visit rather than calling the town hall to organize that. So as you can see you may want to stay in Alicia for the night or find a way to contact the staff/guide to organize it without having to visit Alicia a day in advance. I wasn’t in a rush and had my motorbike so I visited the day before and it was no problem.
The hike itself is about 30-minutes from Alicia town hall along a very steep, muddy and crazy trail. My guide was a dirt bike rider and cruised it with ease in the dark at 3 am but I was very cautiously making my way up and down the crazy road. It reminded me a lot of the insane roads on Nusa Penida in Indonesia. I mention this because I think in this case I don’t suggest doing it DIY on your own. Normally, I will tell you if it possible or not but in this case, the guide isn’t expensive and they are quite valuable as the entry point isn’t clear and in the dark, you will likely get lost. Additionally, I believe the municipality requires a guide to be with you.
I actually took these two drone photos of Binabaje Hills the night before from the municipal town hall.
BOOKING A GUIDE FOR BINABAJE HILLS IN ALICIA
As I mentioned above, you need to book a local guide and you do this by visiting the municipal town hall in Alicia. When I showed up here on my motorbike the day before, I got a lot of interesting looks from the locals. I’m not sure why the town hall was so crowded but they definitely don’t get too many foreigners in Alicia. It isn’t too far off the track but I don’t think there are many tourist attractions popular enough to pull people from Panglao or Anda. Hopefully, for the locals, Binabaje Hills starts to gain some popularity.
I went into the tourism office and sat down. It was quite cute, to be honest, to sit down in a little office to book my hike for the next day. The tourism officer, a motherly figure, talked me through the process and called one of the guides. She assured me he would be there waiting the next morning at 4 am and I assured her I wouldn’t be late. She said she would add me on facebook so I could send her a message if the guide didn’t show up. I asked her if she would be awake at 4 am and she said she would wake up and check her phone. I’m sorry but you can’t get any better hospitality than that! So enjoy the slower pace of this booking system. This is a small town with real people running the show not booking systems and online portals.
The guide cost about 250-300 pesos but it was a pretty long expedition from 4-8am so I gave my guide 500 pesos. He was a really nice guy with good enough English and we had some chats about Alicia and coconut after. For a group, I am sure it can be cheaper.
MY EXPERIENCE HIKING BINABAJE HILLS IN ALICIA, BOHOL
At 3 am I woke up at my hotel in Anda and piled everything into the carrying shell on my motorbike. I wasn’t coming back to Anda, I was going to continue to the port and head back to Cebu. It was my last day on Bohol and I wanted to squeeze in a sunrise hike before I left. The drive from Anda to Alicia took about 40 minutes and was a little chilly but it’s a nice road with good conditions for safe night driving. When I arrived at the town hall, my guide wasn’t there but he arrived a couple of minutes later.
He jumped on his bike and told me to follow him. Later I would find out he is a dirt-bike rider, which probably explains why I kept losing him on the way up! The road turned to a dirt trail quickly and then it was a mission in trying to survive. Potholes and steep inclines made it a challenge for me as I wrestled to keep my road bike upright. In the dark, it was definitely an adventure.
After half an hour of intense riding, we parked our bikes under a tree in a little patch of grass, which was seemingly on someone’s property. Later, I would find out that it was his friend’s place and we would pay 10 pesos for parking. We started the hike from this point and it began with only a small incline before becoming very steep. We didn’t stop once and it took us less than half an hour to reach the summit from the bikes. I don’t think most people go up so quickly as my guide was pretty quick to tell one of the guys already at the top about how quickly we had come up. There was one group camping at the summit and their guide was there in the summit shed sleeping in a hammock.
We were early for the sunrise but from the shed, you can continue along the ridgeline for quite a long way and the view does seem to get better and better. I went for a little exploration before the sun started to show. When it did it gave us some striking reds and purples. We were the only ones up there except for the couple in the tent, who slept through the sunrise!
I began to get quite excited by these colors but I think my guide was used to sunrises like these. He followed with me as I took photographs this way and that way. It was quite a relaxing morning as the two of us hung out at the summit and along the ridges chatting about his dirt bikes, Alicia and the surrounding hills, which are quite prone to fires. I sent the drone up, which he was quite impressed with although I wasn’t too impressed with my shots that morning. Nevertheless here is an aerial look of the Binabaje Hills in Alicia.
We took a different route back down and this was actually my favorite part of the hike. The hills here really are rolling and have amazing ridges and patterns. Several steep drop-offs made for epic photo opportunities and glorious views. I couldn’t really believe it was this incredible and I’d never heard of the hike and also that no-one else was up here. It’s honestly got to be in the top 10 things to do on Bohol yet it’s not yet on the radar of most tourists.
We made it back down to the bikes after about 40 minutes. I think it was a long way back but definitely the scenic route, which I’m really glad we took. On the way back we stopped to pay the entrance ticket to a little couple who seemingly were working the land. They offered me a coconut for 20 pesos, which I, of course, accepted to replenish all of the sweat lost in that incline. A young Filipino coconut always does the trick. We also encountered a few goats from the base of the mountain who were very curious about us!
My guide accompanied me back to the town hall and then said goodbye. Now it was time for me to make the 2-hour drive on my bike to Tubigon Port to head back to Cebu. Binabaje Hills is definitely an amazing hike and an awesome adventure for your time on Bohol!