To sample the variety, Dingle’s Nautod Wall (Iloilo) has inconspicuous angles that result in unidentifiable shadows, making it easy for the newcomer’s eye to pass off slopers for jugs. Cantabaco (Cebu) is fun for on-sighting with smooth pockets and large cracks pasted over a clean, “highway”-like surface.
Both sets of limestone features can be found in Montalban (Antipolo), apart from the common stalactites, tufas and flowstones that require good pinchers, sticky shoes, and relaxed, lay-backing technique.
These rock faces are set in different scenes. Palawan has 200-foot cliffs at the edge of white sand beaches; Atimonan’s views are that of luscious mountain ranges; while the boulders of Bulacan and Lamtang run alongside streams and rivers.
In all climbing areas, being located in small, less-urbanized (or completely rural) towns, the feel is laid-back; travelling from point A to B an escapade; food and lodging is cheap; beer is good; and the people, though shy, are friendly and accommodating. And the local climbers are sure to show you a memorable time!
Climbing gets really challenging due to the heat and humidity. Tolerable if you’re used to the tropical climate, otherwise, be ready for a heatstroke. Climbing is recommended to be limited to early mornings and late afternoons. Constant hydration is a must.
Rainy Season: June to October
As the Philippines is sitting on the typhoon belt, when it rains, it pours. Often. Only way to avoid frustration is by tuning into weather reports. Apart from knowing if water flows onto certain walls when raining, also important to be familiar with access to the crag as dirt roads and trails can get really muddy/slippery.
Cool & Dry Season: November to February
The best time to climb in the Philippines—after the rainy season and before the hot summer begins. Trails are dry so access is safe and easy. Walls stay dry so there will be plenty of routes to choose from. Climbing under the noontime sun is becomes bearable.
Flying is the most straightforward method – both in booking tickets and the actual travel. Local airlines’ budget rates can also get incredibly cheap if you book early enough or catch a promo.
- Philippine Airlines – The country’s flagship airline.
- PAL Express – The low-cost carrier counterpart of Philippine Airlines.
- Cebu Pacific Air – Budget airline that services local and international flights. A bit notorious for flight delays and overbooking. But still the most popular airline for great deals throughout the year.
- Air Asia Zest – Local partner Malaysia's low-cost carrier, Air Asia.
With today's budget fares, boat tickets are only a little less expensive than airfares. However, taking a boat is still recommended if you have time to spare. Braving the ports, watching the sea and the sky, and chatting with unique characters is an experience encountered by a few.
- Superferry – Online booking available.
- Negros Navigation
The last option is through the Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH). This works by land vehicles that “roll-on and roll-off” (RORO) a barge to cross bodies of water. You can do this through the comfort of your own car, or take a bus that travels through the SNRH.
However, there is no agency that issues RORO bus tickets across all destinations. You will need to contact the exact bus company that caters to your desired travel points. If you are able to do so, a unique journey is in store for you.
For short to medium distances, public transportation include buses, mini-buses (or “FX” to locals), or your standard taxi cabs. But a visit to the Philippines won't be complete without riding our decorated jeepneys, motorized tricycles (pronounced "tri-see-kels"), and the local pedicabs known as trisikads (pronounced "tri-see-cads"). The best experience of all, especially when traversing mountain ranges, is the habal-habal; but we have to say, ride at your own risk!
PLANNING YOUR TRIP
I'm 100% in charge of my trip! I can go anywhere, at my own pace!
Ah, the dream trip! (You can read about our own dream of making the Philippines a climbing destination in the future.) Kidding aside, we suggest going for 2-3 crags in different parts of the country, and staying there for 3-5 days each. Block off 2-3 days in between for travel and sightseeing / visiting one of our pristine white sand beaches. Example itinerary:
- Day 1 - Fly in to Iloilo City. Travel to Dingle crag.
- Day 2 to 5 - Climb!
- Day 6 to 7 - Do sightseeing around Iloilo and other cities around Panay Island.
- Day 8 - Fly to Cebu City. Travel to Cantabaco / Poog crag.
- Day 9 to 12 - Climb!
- Day 13 - Visit any of Cebu's beaches.
- Day 14 - Travel to Kiokong crag.
- Day 15 to 18 - Climb!
- Day 19 - Go to the neighbouring provinces of Davao or Cagayan de Oro. Go diving, or white-water rafting, or visit the Davao Pearl Farm.
I'm going to the Philippines (as a balikbayan / for a business trip / family reunion) for a few weeks. I can spare a few days for climbing.
Consider your climbing style, level and appetite for adventure. Do you want to go to a crag with harder climbs to project, or an area with more moderate routes to log-in more mileage? Do you want to camp and maximize time with nature, or do you prefer a proper bed, toilet and shower for your night's rest? Consider these things and we'll recommend a crag for you.
A word of advise, though: There are still no established gear rental systems in any of the crags. So what we normally do is connect you with the local climbing community in the area, and they can be the one to assist you with local logistics and gear in case you are missing anything.
I'll be in town for a meeting, and can maybe do a day trip.
If you only have time for a day trip, we can only recommend three places:
- Cantabaco / Poog crag - accessible from Cebu City
- Dingle crag - accessible from Iloilo City
- Wawa crag - accessible from Quezon City, Metro Manila
Happy planning! Don't hesitate to leave us a message for any questions!