TREKKING MT GUITING GUITING (G2) ON SIBUYAN ISLAND: PHOTO BLOG REVIEW
Mt. Guiting Guiting is one of the toughest hikes in the Philippines and is actually the training ground for Filipinos before they head to Nepal to attempt Mt. Everest! Don’t get scared off yet, although it is a big peak for the Philippines, it stands at 2048m above sea-level, which isn’t a huge peak as far as mountaineering goes. G2 as Mt. Guiting Guiting is often referred to, is a hike for everyone and is a great team activity or solo experience with views you can’t dream up.
In this guide I will detail:
- How to get there
- Where to stay
- What to pack
- Share my experiences, photos, and videos from the trek
HOW TO GET TO SIBUYAN ISLAND
Sibuyan Island is quite remote and is the hardest island to reach out of the main islands on Romblon. This is purely because it is the furthest from Tablas, the main port in Romblon Province. However, it just takes a few ferries from Tablas to reach Sibuyan. Things to consider are that the ferries often leave once per day at 8 am or early in the morning. This means if you try and skip from Tablas to Sibuyan in one day it could be impossible as you need to get to Romblon on the first ferry and then there are no more for that day. Therefore identifying the ferry schedule is important.
My advice and what we did is to stay on Romblon Island for a few days, (which you should anyway) and then take the morning ferry over to Sibuyan. Going back from Sibuyan you can take a morning ferry to Romblon and then the midday ferry to Tablas. We even took it one step further and took a sunset charter boat to Carabao, so we made it all the way from Sibuyan to Carabao in one day. Things are possible in Romblon Province but once you go past Romblon Island and are looking for transport to and from Sibuyan it seems that the once-daily ferry is the only real option on most days. It costs only a few $USD and takes about an hour to cross over to the other island.
WHERE TO STAY IN SIBUYAN ISLAND FOR TREKKING MT. GUITING GUITING
The port is quite near where you will want to get an accommodation for before and after trekking Mt. Guiting Guiting. The best town to stay in for your Mt. Guiting Guiting trekking base is Magdiwang. From the port, you can take a tricycle to Magdiwang for just a couple of dollars.
In Magdiwang you have a few options of where to stay. We originally had been told to stay at Sanctuary Garden Resort. It was fully booked so we instead managed to find a room at a little hotel called Ranchers Place. Our friend on Romblon Island organized it and there is almost nothing online about it if you do in fact, wish to stay in the same place. This is a short bio about Ranchers Place on Lonely Planet, which includes the phone number.
Ranchers Place did the job for us. It was a private room for $20 USD. The room was pretty basic but had a working A/C, a small private bathroom and that’s about it. You don’t come to Magdiwang to enjoy a resort. We stayed one night before our trek and one night after so we just slept and prepared for our trek. There is pretty much no WIFI on Sibuyan Island and if you can get 3G/4G anywhere thank your lucky stars. We did grab a few bars from time to time but for the most part, just enjoy the nature because you won’t be spending much time online!
NECESSARY PERMITS FOR TREKKING MT. GUITING GUITING
Our guide organized our permits and such but it is possible to do without a guide so I thought it was necessary to put this bit of information here. You need to go to the DENR office, which is near Sanctuary Garden Resort. Here you just tell them you want to hike and I believe we paid 500 pesos each for the permit. It was actually funny because in typical Philippines style they DIDN’T rip us off. They said it will cost 1000 pesos for the DENR permit. We assumed they were saying 1000 pesos each, which was $20 USD so it seemed reasonable. We handed over 2000 pesos together and the guy laughed and handed back 1000 pesos, explaining that it was 1000 pesos total. It’s pretty common in the Philippines to NOT get ripped off in situations like this, which is one of the reasons it is my favorite country in the world. It’s one thing to have beautiful scenery but to have a population who for the vast majority are so damn honest and full of integrity is something you can’t fake. It’s part of the nature and character of Filipinos!
WHAT TO PACK FOR TREKKING UP MT. GUITING GUITING
Mt. Guiting Guiting was for us, an overnight adventure. We camped below the summit on night one, woke up early on the second day and trekked to the summit before coming back down all the way to Magdiwang the next day. Therefore we had to take camping equipment and enough food for two full days. The weather was cold at night and hot during the day so we need both types of clothes. We also sweat a ton due to the humidity so that was another factor to consider. We carried all of our own gear although many people had porters, so we packed light. These are the things you will need to pack:
- Good hiking shoes or trainers
- Two pairs of socks
- Pants and or shorts (Two pairs because one will be wet/sweaty after day one)
- T-shirt ((Two pairs because one will be wet/sweaty after day one))
- A jacket for at night
- Rain jacket or poncho
- A tent (We had one between two of us so one person carried the camping gear and the other the cooking gear)
- Sleeping bag
- Cooking equipment such as stove, gas cylinder, plate, cup, fork, spoon
- Food depends on you whether you want to take rice and canned foods or prefer just to do bread and food items you don’t need to cook. Many people cooked rice and had adobo but you can do it more easily taking bread and things you don’t need to cook. It really depends on the person. I prefer not cooking and eating dry foods as it saves the hassle when it is just overnight.
- Camera gear
- Power Bank
TREKKING UP MT. GUITING GUITING: MY EXPERIENCE
As with all of my travels, I go in pretty unprepared and deal with it as I go. I had packed my camera bag to the brim and strapped some sleeping bags to the outside. It wasn’t ideal but it wasn’t my main priority. Nic and I had organized a guide who helped us organize sleeping bags, cooking gear and a tent, which we rented for 800 pesos.
At 7am we woke up at Ranchers Place, grabbed an egg bagel and a coffee and jumped in the tricycle with our guide. It was just a short 15-minute drive to the start of the trek, which for us was a random spot on the side of the road. From here we crossed a small river and then off we headed straight towards Mt. Guiting Guiting.
The first hour or so was pretty flat but after that, we found ourselves inside the forest in the midst of extreme humidity. We could hardly see the sky and we definitely didn’t have any views for the first four hours. The dirt trail broke through vines and plants, which tried to force their way out but the constant stream of hikers made sure it was a clear path. The trail for the first few hours was pretty basic with nothing out of the ordinary.
What was out of the ordinary was the amount we were sweating. After just a couple of hours, we were both saturated and it looked like we had been sweating. There are four stations before the campsite and we stopped at each one for a little snack and some water.
We powered through pretty quickly and after just four hours we were almost at camp 3. We stopped briefly to collect our water and fill up the big gallon bottles we had brought. The creek water is okay for drinking this high up, which is pretty cool considering you can only drink bottled or purified water in the rest of the Philippines. We would carry the gallon bottles all the way to the final campsite so we had a solid supply of water for that night and the next day.
We had our water and now we pushed through to our campsite for the night. Just before we made it we got our first real views. After being stuck inside the canopy for the past few hours we were stoked to be able to see all the way to the ocean for the first time. A short break hanging out in this epic tree was a welcome respite before we powered on to the campsite.
The campsite was a small clearing at the top of a mountain, but unfortunately, it had no views. There was a viewpoint but you had to walk a couple of minutes to reach it, which is still great but there’s nothing like looking out of your tent at an epic mountain range! We set up our tent and went for a little explore.
More trekkers joined us at the campsite. They were all Filipino and seemed to have brought double the gear than us. That’s probably why we ate rice and tuna for dinner and they had chicken adobo and other meals you don’t regularly see at a campsite. Having said that our prep took a few minutes and they seemed to take a couple of hours to cook and clean. We ended up getting an early night as we wanted to be already trekking during sunrise to see if we couldn’t enjoy some nice colors in the sky along the way.
The big day had arrived! We were about to head to the summit of Mt. Guiting Guiting or as it’s known on the trail, G2. We left our tent as it was because we would be returning to the camp later that day to collect it. We started the trek in the midst of darkness but already the sun was beginning to rise. It wasn’t an epic sunrise but the weather was great and we had a little bit of color showing up in the distance. No complaints here. The weather was good, we were dry and on our way to the Mt. Guiting Guiting summit! I’ll put some photos in as we go here but a lot of them will be at the end otherwise it will be hard to continue reading! But definitely scroll all the way to the end cause we shot some pretty rad photos during the hike with the cameras and the drone! These are a couple from the sunrise.
The ridges look a lot more dangerous in photos than they are. There weren’t many parts at all that were so narrow that if you slipped you would fall down the mountain. That might sound extreme but if you have room for error on a hike that makes a big difference to the difficulty of the hike.
We continued on along the ridge, navigated over the boulders and doing some mild rock-climbing as we got closer to Mayo’s Peak. There are two main ridges or valleys, which we crossed and they both made for epic photo opportunities. The huge drop-offs and sharp ridges are incredibly striking and when the clouds do clear it’s an amazing location to lay your eyes on!
Because we left before sunrise, we were the first trekkers heading towards Mt. Guiting Guiting from our direction. Even when we were stopping for photos often, the other hikes were like tiny little ants far away back at the start. This was awesome as we could really take in the beauty of the landscape in silence, which was incredibly peaceful. However, hikers do come from the other direction also, departing from San Fernando and arriving at the Mt. Guiting Guiting summit, so we weren’t the first people to the summit.
We reached Mayo’s peak and continued to power on, eventually reaching the summit at about 10 am, taking us a total of four hours from the campsite to the summit including two drone sessions and lots of photos as you can see. I think quite easily we could have made it up in under three hours if we powered straight through.
We made it! The summit of G2, Mt. Guiting Guiting was beneath our feet. We celebrated with a few others who had mae it from San Fernando. It was a great adventure although not quite as hard as my last mid-range mountaineering up Mount Rinjani in Indonesia. I felt pretty solid still and we were keen to head back down to the base by the end of the day. Before we headed back we took it all in and even adventured down the slops of the summit while flying the drone in the strong winds and clouds. It’s not common for the peak of Mt. Guiting Guiting to be in clear view as most of the time it is covered by the clouds. We got lucky with the weather on our trek, which we are grateful for. Thanks mother nature.
The trek down began and we were hustling hard. Our legs were starting to burn a little but we powered back down to the campsite. The trail was pretty busy now with all of the latecomers making their way to the summit. It wasn’t a crowded trek, but at some points there was a bit of a log-jam. We reached our campsite packed our belongings up and took a short rest before continuing all the way down to the base where we began. Heading down from the summit of Mt. Guiting Guting to the base took us just over five hours, which is a pretty solid pace.
The base is kind of in the middle of nowhere, so we had to call a tricycle driver from Magdiwang to come and pick us up. Our tired bodies waited on the side of the road for our ride before we made the short journey back to Magdiwang for the night!
Trekking Mt. Guiting Guiting was an epic adventure and I’ll never forget watchint those teeth-like ridges, just myself, Nic and our guide. We felt like ants in the land of dinosaurs! I highlight recommend hiking G2 and it would be an awesome activity to do with a bunch of friends!