Diane, a former coworker, asked if I wanted to trek again shortly after I posted the pictures from our last month’s climb on Mt. Balagbag on Facebook. At that time, I didn’t have anything else yet on my plate, so I said yes. And after some planning that saw us consider Mt. Ulap in Benguet and, briefly, Mt. Batulao in Nasugbu, Batangas, we settle on Mt. Maculot in Cuenca, also in Batangas.
Mt. Maculot has been a known hiking destination with mountaineers for years now, though as trekking becomes a more favored past time among young professionals these days, it has become more popular. The popularity came with a price as the number of people traversing the trails and staying in the campsites resulted in the mountain having had one of the dirtiest trails and campsites in the Philippines, though this has improved significantly in the last years, as locals and environmental groups led a clean-up drive. Today, every visitor to the mountain is required to pay a 20-peso environmental fee upon entering the base of the mountain, and hiking with a guide is mandatory.
Maculot is not really a tall mountain, rising just around 930 meters above sea level, and is a good mountain to climb for beginners. The mountain can be covered in a traverse hike, but the vast majority of the trekkers, including me and Dianne, settle for the Rockies, a rocky cliff at the northwestern part of the mountain overlooking the scenic Taal Lake. The summit can be reached in one hour from the campsite (which itself is 20 minutes from the Rockies) and an hour a half from the base. Today, though, our guide Eli tells us that large clouds engulf the summit, which means all you can see from the top is fog.
After a few minutes enjoying the view on the Rockies, Dianne and I return to the campsite, where we eat our lunch of rice and lechong manok, before heading down.
Here’s how our trip went, by the way, with the expenses.
- Rode a bus from Cubao to Lipa (around PHP 135 per person)
- Rode a bus from Lipa to Cuenca (PHP 35 per person)
- Took a tricycle from Cuenca town proper to the base of Mt. Maculot (PHP 25 per person)
- Paid the environmental fee (PHP 20 per person)
- Climbed the mountain
- Ate packed lunch (around PHP 120 per person)
- Paid for the guide (PHP 500 or PHP 250 per person, plus PHP 200 tip or PHP 100 per person)
- Took a tricycle to the town proper (PHP 25 per person)
- Rode a jeep to SM Lipa (PHP 25 per person)
- Rode a bus to Cubao (around PHP 135 per person)
Total expense: around PHP 870 per person