Palawan is an island province with rich biodiversity – may it be on land or under the surface of the sea, and is also known as one of the Ultimate Hiking Frontiers in the Philippines.
A long island paradise that would definitely take anyone’s breath away. But aside from sightseeing, swimming and diving, you may also opt for thrilling adventures and jungle trekking.
Palawan has rich forests that cover the mineral-rich, captivating mountains which are visited by trekking enthusiasts and adventurers throughout the globe.
Curious? Well here are some of the mountains in Palawan that you might want to trek to!
Cleopatra’s Needle is one of the most enchanting mountains of Palawan. It earned its name due to the obelisk-rock structure that may be found at the mountain’s peak at an elevation of 1,608m (5,275ft). This mountain is visible when you are on your way to the Puerto Princesa Underground River; and from the road, you will immediately notice its exquisite beauty.
According to many, the mountain’s environment is covered with forests and is abundant with wildlife. Once you reach the summit, you will be able to get a view of the Honda Bay, the Sulu Sea in the East as well as the South China Sea on the West, and the panoramic view of the city proper on the Southeast – hopefully, you get lucky with clear skies though.
The trek in Cleopatra’s Needle is described to be a challenging hike especially for serious climbers and tends to reach around three to four days to reach the peak. Along the way, trekkers will expect to go through countless river crossings, boulders, and of course, an enchanting biodiversity which attracts many scientists.
Mt. Bahile is a small mountain at 700m (2,296ft) above the sea level, is perfect for a day hike, being just 30 kilometers away from the city proper of Puerto Princesa. Along the way, you will encounter ultramafic rocks and forests which is quite the similarity among all mountains in Palawan.
Mt. Bahile is the habitat of many species of avian fauna, including eagles, woodpeckers hummingbirds, and many other. The location of its summit is very strategic that you wouldn’t have to worry about which spot you should stand because of every part of the mountain is fascinating. From the summit, you can enjoy the view of Honda Bay and Ulugan Bay.
Mt. Beaufort is another land beauty, it is completely covered by forest from the trailhead up to the summit. It is abundant with both flora and fauna species wherever you look at. Along the trails, there are chances of seeing freshwater crabs, birds, snakes, and many other animals both endemic to Palawan, and those common animals you find in the jungle. It is highly suggested that during the trek, you should slow down a bit for you to be able to see the fauna that lurks in trees and on the ground – that’s something I’m sure you wouldn’t want to miss!
The trail starts off gentle but it gets steeper as you go along especially once you get past the junction where the trail diverges – one trail goes down to a Batak (an indigenous tribe in Palawan) village while the other leads to the mountain’s summit. As you get near to its peak, you will encounter unusual species of plants and tree frogs.
Mt. Bloomfield at 787 meters above the sea level (2,582 ft) is one of the most scenic mountains in Puerto Princesa and is very conveniently accessible to the tourists of the world-renowned Underground River.
The trek starts at the Sabang beach then passes through agricultural lands, and then the trail quickly turns rocky until you reach the pure ultramafic slopes that lead up to the mountain. These rocks, compared to those others found in Palawan as well, are nice to walk through and are not very slippery.
Along the way, you will still see the view of the sea despite getting into the forest – as if it follows you everywhere you go to. The higher reaches of the mountain is covered with stunted trees which allow hikers to have a sneak peek of what it feels to hike in Palawan.
At the Eagle’s Ridge, you can enjoy the view of Mount St. Paul, which houses the famous Underground River, standing tall to the north and behind it is the Cleopatra’s Needle, the highest mountain in Northern Palawan. Even the Mt. Capoas in Malampaya is also visible from it.
Mt. Bloomfield gives you a good reason to stay in Sabang for a couple of nights, especially if you’re a mountaineer or an adventurous traveller. It has a magnificent scenery and great trails which makes a rewarding experience in Palawan.
Mt. Darala at an elevation of 600m (1,968ft) is the highest mountain of the Calamianes Archipelago in the Northern Palawan, specifically in the municipality of Busuanga. Being the highest mountain in the area, Mt. Darala is becoming an attention getter especially to those who are after the challenge and the adventure that it brings.
Mount Matalingahan (or Mantalingajan or Mantaling) at an elevation of 2,085 m (6,841 ft) is the highest point in the province of Palawan, located in the southern part of Palawan Island. The mystical mountain encompasses the southern municipalities of Rizal, Brooke’s Point, Quezon, and Bataraza.
The mountain is part of a large protected area covers an area of 120,457 hectares and it serves as home to many indigenous groups who live in the southern part Palawan. The entire park is currently listed as a tentative site for UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription. Mount Matalingahan is a “Key Biodiversity Area,” which means that it harbors a rich variety of endemic flora and fauna.
Mount Matalingahan is one of the most difficult climbs in the Philippines and the highlights of the 5-days hike include encounters with the Tau’t Bato tribe and the “Knife Edge” Canopy Walk that leads to the summit. Once you reach the summit, you will get a spectacular view of the Southern Palawan and the surrounding Sulu Sea and South China Sea.
Mount Salakot is one of the best hike you can do in one day from Puerto Princesa. This mountain is located in Napsan and the jump-off point is along the Puerto Princesa National Road.
Mount Salakot is considered an easy hike, roughly three-four hours to the summit at an elevation of 550m (1,800ft) above sea level.
It’s a popular mountain among the locals and the trail up to the summit is wide and well-marked. Along the way, you may be able to see green viper, purplish crabs, centipedes, millipedes, hornbills, woodpeckers, parrots and other forest fauna.
When you get to the summit you can enjoy the view of Puerto Princesa Bay and the surrounding peaks such as Mt. Beaufort and Mt. Thumbpeak.
On the way down the mountain, you can visit Salakot Waterfalls which is a small waterfalls near the jump off point.
Mount Thumb Peak is another small mountain in central Palawan, near the city of Puerto Princesa. At an elevation of 1,296 m (4,252 ft) this mountain has a peak than resemble a fist with a thumb jutting upwards.
Thumb Peak is accessible from the Iwahig Penal Colony as a 2– 3-day hike and the highlights of the hike includes river crossing, trekking through dense forests, and beautiful views at the summit. To climb the mountain, you will have to acquire a permit from the authorities in the penal farm.
The trail leading to the summit crosses the river several times – which can be treacherous and impossible during bad weather. Along the way you can see interesting flora, especially the tropical pitcher plants.
Once you reach the summit, you will realize how rewarding the view is; definitely worth all the trekking efforts! From the summit, you may see both South China Sea and the Sulu Sea and the surrounding mountains.
Mount Victoria at an elevation of 1,726 m (5,663 ft) is another remarkable mountain, located in the municipality of Narra. It is an unexplored and wild and it’s home to many species of flora and fauna yet to be discovered.
Recently, an endemic pitcher plant was discovered near the peak, which created a global sensation for scientists, and botanists. The plant was named Nepenthes attenboroughii.
Mount Victoria is also culturally significant to Palawan, since it serves as home for some members of the Tagbanua tribe who are natives of the province.
Mt. Victoria’s terrain is diverse exiting and is definitely a treat for intrepid trekkers. About 80% of the journey up to this beautiful mountain will involve crossing major and minor rivers. The challenging trek to the summit of Mt. Victoria will require a minimum of four days with land trails being mostly steep and would often involve bouldering. However, the trek to the summit is promising and is extremely worth all the heavy river crossings.
The summit will reward you with magnificent views of the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea, the neighboring peaks, and mountains. Definitely one adventure of a lifetime!
The Jungle Trail and Monkey Trail, Underground River
After visiting the Underground River, adventurous travellers might want to return to Sabang on foot over the 5km-long Jungle Trail.
In this easy trail that starts from the ranger station near the underground river, trekkers have the opportunity to experience the forest and spot wildlife, especially long-tailed macaque (macaca fascicularis) and monitor lizards.
The trail initially climbs steeply over overgrown karst limestones before dividing into two paths; one is the continuation of the Jungle Trail and the other one is the Monkey Trail.
You can also walk the Jungle trail in the opposite direction from Sabang to the Underground River.
To be able to walk through the Jungle Trail you will have to get the permit from the information office in Sabang. Also, keep in mind that the trails are only accessible until 3.00pm.
Ugong Rock is a karst formation in the midst of paddy fields and karst forests with commanding views of the surrounding countryside. It’s found around 15km south of Sabang near barangay Tagabinet.
The trail leading to a viewing deck on top of the stunning rock, consists of an hour journey through narrow cracks and caverns, squeezing through narrow holes climbing up ladders and crevices.
You will have to spend a total of Php 200: Php 100 for the guide and Php 100 for the permits issued at the trailhead. Camping is allowed and you can set your own tent in an area in the village of the indigenous peoples.
If you are not afraid of height, you can ride the Ugong Rock Zipline on the way down – with a 71-meter drop, it’s one of the fastest in the Philippines. Definitely, it will be an exhilarating and fun experience which will cost you approximately Php 500.