Trekking in Palawan

The Ultimate Guide to Trekking and Hiking Trails

Palawan is a stunning island province in the Philippines with diverse natural resources. It offers exhilarating jungle treks and hiking trails that take visitors to the heart of its lush forests and mineral-rich mountains. Here are some of the best mountains and trails to explore while in Palawan.

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Mountain and jungle landscape in Palawan

List of Palawan's Tallest Mountains

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Cleopatra’s Needle

The enchanting Cleopatra’s Needle is considered one of the most captivating mountains in Palawan. The mountain gets its name from the obelisk-shaped rock found at its peak, towering impressively at an elevation of 1,608m (5,275ft). Cleopatra’s Needle is visible while traveling to the Puerto Princesa Underground River, and its stunning beauty is immediately noticeable from the road.

The mountain is surrounded by a lush forest environment and rich in wildlife, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts. The summit provides breathtaking views of Honda Bay, Sulu Sea to the East, and the South China Sea to the West. On clear days, the city proper to the Southeast can also be seen in a panoramic view.

The trek to Cleopatra’s Needle is a challenging three to four-day hike that involves countless river crossings, boulders, and a captivating biodiversity that attracts scientists and researchers. The mountain is located within the Mount Cleopatra Forest Reserve, a protected area under the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development. A trek to Cleopatra’s Needle is a must-do for adventurous travelers looking for an unforgettable experience in Palawan.

Mount Bahile

Mt. Bahile is a small mountain at 700m (2,296ft) above sea level, perfect for a day hike, located just 30 kilometers away from the city proper of Puerto Princesa. Hikers will encounter ultramafic rocks and forests, typical features of Palawan’s mountains.

Mt. Bahile is home to a diverse range of avian fauna, including eagles, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and many others. Its strategic summit location offers fascinating views from every part of the mountain. From the summit, one can enjoy the panoramic sights of Honda Bay and Ulugan Bay.

For adventurers seeking a day hike in Palawan, Mt. Bahile is a great option due to its accessibility and breathtaking views

Mount Beaufort

Mt Beaufort is a must is a stunning mountain with a lush forest covering its trailhead to the summit and is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna species, including freshwater crabs, birds, snakes, and other jungle animals, both endemic and common to Palawan.

To fully appreciate the natural wonders of Mount Beaufort, it is recommended to slow down during the trek and take in the beauty of the fauna that lurks in trees and on the ground. Adventurers should keep an eye out for the unusual species of plants and tree frogs as they near the peak.

While the trail starts off gently, it gradually becomes steeper, particularly past the junction where the trail diverges. One trail leads to a Batak village, while the other leads to the mountain’s summit. 

Mount Bloomfield

Mt. Bloomfield, located at 787 meters above sea level (2,582 ft), is considered one of the most scenic mountains in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. It is conveniently accessible to tourists visiting the world-renowned Underground River.

The trek to Mt. Bloomfield starts at Sabang Beach and passes through agricultural lands. The trail then becomes rocky until reaching the pure ultramafic slopes that lead up to the mountain. Compared to other rocks found in Palawan, these rocks are nice to walk through and are not very slippery.

Along the way, hikers can still see the view of the sea despite entering the forest. The higher reaches of the mountain are covered with stunted trees that provide a glimpse of what it feels like to hike in Palawan.

At Eagle’s Ridge, hikers can enjoy the view of Mount St. Paul, which houses the famous Underground River, standing tall to the north. Behind it is Cleopatra’s Needle, the highest mountain in Northern Palawan, and Mt. Capoas in Malampaya is also visible from it.

Mt. Bloomfield is a must-visit for mountaineers and adventurous travelers, offering magnificent scenery and great trails that make for a rewarding experience in Palawan. It provides a good reason to stay in Sabang for a couple of nights.

Mount Darala

Located in the municipality of Busuanga in Northern Palawan, Mount Darala stands at an impressive elevation of 600m (1,968ft) and is the tallest mountain in the Calamianes Archipelago. This mountain has been gaining attention from adventurers seeking a challenge and an exciting experience.

The trek to Mount Darala is challenging, with steep and rocky terrains, but it offers breathtaking views of the Calamianes islands and the surrounding waters. The journey also takes hikers through a lush forest, which is home to various flora and fauna species.

Aside from the natural beauty of the mountain, Mount Darala also holds cultural significance. The mountain is considered sacred by the indigenous Tagbanua people, and it is believed to be the dwelling place of their ancestral spirits.

Mount Matalingahan

Located in the southern part of Palawan Island, Mount Matalingahan (also known as Mantalingajan or Mantaling) is the highest point in the province of Palawan, standing tall at an elevation of 2,085 meters (6,841 feet). The mountain encompasses the southern municipalities of Rizal, Brooke’s Point, Quezon, and Bataraza.

This mystical mountain is part of a large protected area spanning over 120,457 hectares, which serves as home to many indigenous groups residing in the southern part of Palawan. The entire park is currently listed as a tentative site for UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription. Mount Matalingahan is also a “Key Biodiversity Area,” harboring a rich variety of endemic flora and fauna.

The ascent of Mount Matalingahan is considered one of the most challenging hikes in the Philippines, taking approximately five days to complete. The journey includes exciting encounters with the Tau’t Bato tribe and the “Knife Edge” Canopy Walk leading to the summit. At the peak, hikers are rewarded with a stunning panoramic view of Southern Palawan, as well as the Sulu Sea and South China Sea.

 Mount Matalingahan is a must-visit destination for experienced hikers seeking an unforgettable adventure, then. Hikers can enjoy the rich biodiversity and immerse themselves in the fascinating culture of the Tau’t Bato tribe while enjoying breathtaking views of Palawan’s natural wonders.

Mount Salakot

Mount Salakot is a popular day hike destination near Puerto Princesa, located in Napsan with a jump-off point along the Puerto Princesa National Road. With an elevation of 550m (1,800ft) above sea level, it is considered an easy hike that takes roughly three to four hours to reach the summit.

The trail leading up to the summit is well-marked and wide, making it a popular mountain among locals. Along the way, hikers may be able to spot various forest fauna such as green vipers, purplish crabs, centipedes, millipedes, hornbills, woodpeckers, parrots, and more.

Once at the summit, hikers can enjoy a panoramic view of Puerto Princesa Bay and the surrounding peaks, including Mt. Beaufort and Mt. Thumbpeak. On the descent, visitors can also visit the Salakot Waterfalls, a small waterfall near the jump-off point.

Mount Thumb Peak

Mount Thumb Peak is a small but rewarding mountain located near Puerto Princesa in central Palawan, with a peak that resembles a fist with a thumb pointing upwards. Standing at 1,296 meters (4,252 feet), Thumb Peak is accessible from the Iwahig Penal Colony and offers a 2-3 day hike with stunning views.

The trail to the summit involves river crossings and trekking through dense forests, with beautiful scenery along the way. A permit from the authorities in the penal farm is required to climb the mountain.

The trek can be challenging, especially during bad weather when river crossings become more difficult. However, the journey is worth it for the chance to see interesting flora, including tropical pitcher plants.

Once at the summit, hikers are rewarded with breathtaking views of both the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea, as well as the surrounding mountains.

Mount Victoria

Mount Victoria, standing tall at an impressive elevation of 1,726 meters (5,663 feet), is a spectacular mountain located in the municipality of Narra. This uncharted territory is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, some of which are yet to be discovered, making it a true wilderness adventure.

Recently, scientists and botanists were thrilled to discover an endemic pitcher plant, Nepenthes attenboroughii, near the peak, causing a global sensation. This discovery only adds to the allure of Mount Victoria as a must-visit destination.

Aside from its natural wonders, Mount Victoria also holds cultural significance to the Tagbanua tribe, who are natives of the province and call this mountain home.

The trek to the summit of Mount Victoria is not for the faint of heart, as about 80% of the journey will involve crossing major and minor rivers. However, intrepid trekkers will be rewarded with an exciting and diverse terrain, including steep land trails and bouldering challenges, for a minimum of four days. The effort is worth it as the summit offers breathtaking views of the South China Sea, Sulu Sea, neighboring peaks, and mountains – an adventure of a lifetime!

Jungle Trail at Underground River

For adventurous travelers seeking a unique experience after exploring the Underground River, trekking the 5km-long Jungle Trail from the ranger station near the river to Sabang is a must-do activity.

Along the trail, trekkers can immerse themselves in the lush forest and have a chance to spot the local wildlife, including long-tailed macaques (macaca fascicularis) and monitor lizards. The trail begins with a steep climb over overgrown karst limestones, before splitting into two paths – the continuation of the Jungle Trail and the Monkey Trail.

The Jungle Trail can also be traversed in the opposite direction from Sabang to the Underground River. It’s important to note that a permit must be obtained from the information office in Sabang to access the trail and that it’s only open until 3:00 pm. 

Please note that Jungle Trail is currently closed for repairs. It’s always important to check for any updates or changes in trail accessibility before embarking on a trek.

Ugong Rock

Ugong Rock is a stunning karst formation located approximately 15km south of Sabang near barangay Tagabinet. Situated amidst lush paddy fields and karst forests, it offers mesmerizing views of the surrounding countryside.

To reach the viewing deck atop the rock, visitors embark on a thrilling hour-long journey through narrow cracks and caverns, navigating through narrow holes and climbing up ladders and crevices. Knowledgeable guides are available to accompany visitors on this exhilarating trek. A permit costing Php 100 is required to access the trail, and a guide can be hired for an additional Php 100.

For those seeking an overnight adventure, camping is permitted in the village of the indigenous peoples. Visitors can set up their own tents and immerse themselves in the beauty of the natural surroundings.

Visitors looking for an adrenaline rush can take a ride on the Ugong Rock Zipline, which has a 71-meter drop and is one of the fastest ziplines in the Philippines. The cost for this unforgettable experience is approximately Php 500.