Summiting Mount Napulak

  • Monday, January 02, 2017
  • By Archie Esleyer
  • 5 Comments

The past few weeks I have been busy with my fellowship application and covering for my consultants that I just needed to escape for few days away from the city and breathe some fresh air. So last weekend, I took advantage of the good outdoor weather to hike Mt. Napulak in Igbaras, Iloilo.


Mt. Napulak is one of the highest peaks in Iloilo measuring about 3,936 feet above sea level. This mountain boasts a unique geography, shaped like a woman’s breast with a huge rock formation nestled on its summit resembling to a nipple, it is where the mountain got its name which literally means “nipple top”.

It was an early start for all of us agreeing to meet each other at 4 am in the morning in Jollibee along General Luna St. Iloilo where the jeepney that will take us to the town of Igbaras was waiting for us. After a quick meal at Jollibee we took the 1-hr ride to Igbaras. Upon arriving to the town, we registered at the local police station. Trekkers need to register first at the logbook of the police station and the Municipal tourism office. However, it was a Saturday when we went there so we just registered at the police station since the government office was still close at that time. Then we hopped back to our chartered jeepney that took us to the jump off point of the trek in Brgy. Tigbanaba where our guide Kano was waiting for us.

Archie’s tips: For solo trekkers or those in traveling in small groups who choose to commute from the town proper to the jump off point of the trek, motorcycles or “habal-habal” are available at the plaza for 150-200 php per way. In our case, there are 10 of us in a group so we negotiated with the jeepney driver to transport us from Iloilo city to the jump off point of the trek for a fix price (which saved us a lot of money!) and for convenience also.
From the jump off point, we began our slow ascent alongside the scenic view of the mountains and rice fields as we head to the house of Ms Belen Elgario to get our food for lunch. Prior to the trek, we requested the Ms Belen to cook for us native chicken adobo and steamed rice for our lunch. This is a popular practice among trekkers who wants to avoid the hassle of preparing their meals very early in the morning for the trek. You can contact Ms Belen Elgario beforehand to have your meals prepared. Another advantage would probably be the assurance you’re your meals are freshly prepared plus you got to have a taste of mountain cuisine. I couldn’t say more but agree that home cooked meals are really the best!

We arrived earlier than our expected time & the food we ordered was not yet ready so we had more time to rest, refill our water bottles and use the toilet before continuing our trek. After everything was ready we resumed our ascent while the heat is still bearable. The trail was gradual ascent and mostly shaded area at the beginning then it slowly becomes steep. It was hot the past few days and so the track was dry and dusty which makes it glassy when climbing so make sure you watch your steps.

A few hours after, we arrived at the water source which seemed like a creek that has gone dry. You need to hike a few meters from the main trail in order to get to the stream where the water is flowing. Our guide was creative enough to place some hollow bamboo sticks to direct the flow of water forming like a water tube that directly empties on our water bottles.

Just a few meters away from the stream, one of our trekking buddies spotted a budding Rafflesia. Rafflesia is usually found growing along the trail in the forested area of Mt Napulak. This flower is considered to be the largest single flower in the world.  When you hike during rainy season, you may found many of this rare flowers budding along the trail. I was not expecting to see one bloom during this summer time so imagine my delight when one of my trekking buddies found one. Everybody was ecstatic that we hurriedly climb that area to have a glimpse of this rare beauty. And yes, it stinks like a rotten meat but i can’t miss this opportunity to have a selfie taken with this unusual flower.

The water source is the usual stopover for lunch but it was too early for us to have our lunch there so right after refilling our water bottles, we immediately resumed our trek. The trail then goes uphill walking along excavated path along narrow weeds then you finally reach a relatively flat surface where you will be welcomed with this view. It was not the peak yet but it offers you a view of the different mountain ranges of the Panay island.

Walking farther we entered a shaded part of the trail where we felt our stomach growling and decided to take a break there for our lunch. I was actually looking forward to this part of the trek, not only because I was so hungry, but more because we are going to eat native chicken adobo which is my favorite meal. To have a native chicken for a meal is already a luxury especially if you’re someone living in the city & whose taste bud is only accustomed to 30 days chicken from poultry farms. And yep! That meal did not disappoint – and to think it was all organic and there was no trace of artificial seasoning! It was so tasty I ate like a pig! Or maybe I was just starving! Hahaha

After stuffing our tummies with a hearty lunch, we were so full & a bit tired so we decided to take a rest for a while. We started our trek early and walked quiet fast that’s why we are ahead of schedule so we rewarded ourselves with a quick nap after having our lunch.

After about 30 minutes of resting we decided to move again. Our guide told us the summit is just about an hour away. Excited to see the summit, we begin walking again. We figured out if we arrived there early at the summit early well have more time to rest and get settled.

It was a steady assault this time, passing through a dense forest. For me, it was a welcome change in terrain especially if you’re coming from an uphill trek under the sun. This part of the trail was mostly shaded and the lush vegetation around gave its cool ambiance but there are some areas that are steep enough you need to climb carefully holding on to stems or roots of the trees.

After the forest comes the grasslands where you will be walking alongside tall grasses that are sometimes sharp enough to cut your skin so make sure you wear proper gear to protect you from injuring yourself.
After navigating the sea of talahib in a mostly flat terrain, you will have your first glimpse of the summit marked by this massive rock with a cross on top of it.

Finally after 5-6 hours of walking determinedly we made it to the summit! The summit offers a spectacular view of Igbaras, the nearby provinces and its mountain ranges including Mt. Igcabugao & Mt. Taripis in sight. The iconic rock formation on the summit can be appreciated and will make you curious what’s on top of it. After pitching the tent and changing our soiled clothes, we then climbed up this rock formation to wait for the sun to set there.

Climbing up is quiet a challenge too. Our guide placed some improvised bark of trees and ropes where you can step on and hold on to in order to climb and then squeeze yourself through a narrow hole to reach the jagged rocks of the peak. Once you’re up there you will get to enjoy a dramatic view 360 degrees view of Panay island which is absolutely picture perfect!

Archie’s Notes: Getting to the summit can be exhausting but I would advise you to climb up further to the rock formation because the view up there is way much better than on the summit. If you are staying overnight, climb as soon as you get there because you can never be sure that there will be a good visibility the following day.

Witnessing the sunset at the top of the world is one of the best human experience one can ever experience. It felt like the higher ground has made you closer to heaven that makes meditation and soul searching a more rewarding experience.

After that visual treat at the peak, we cooked our meals consisting of the canned goods we brought and some adobo leftovers. Eating under the stars over good jokes and mountain anecdotes was a great bonding experience. The night was long and the sky is clear, all perfect to do star gazing and admiring the wondrous beauty of the sky.

We rise up early ignoring the chill that the wind brings to see sunrise at the peak. And slowly, the penetrating ray of the sun shows up creating a colorful palette in the eastern sky.

Then it turns the surrounding mountains into gold giving a dramatic view of this wondrous natural beauty that surrounds the peak which can only be seen from the summit.

After watching the sun rise, we decided not to eat a big breakfast and have a light snacks instead. We wanted to descend early in order to avoid the scorching sun while trekking down.  After an obligatory group photo on the summit together with other groups who camped there, we started our descent. We just follow the same route that we did on our way up. Going down was faster cutting our travel time into 3 hours of fast walking.

After seeing signs of civilization, we knew we were nearing Elgarios residence where we agreed to have our breakfast/lunch in the area. We are going to have chicken tinola this time and I couldn’t wait! LOL and when the meal was finally served, it was like a fellowship lunch for all of us. Sharing this meal with your trekking buddies just made eating more delicious.

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5 comments

  1. Hello there!I'm an Ilonggo and I wish I could join your hikes when I go home soon!:) feel free to visit my blog too! daintyfreckles.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you for dropping by Juvy! See you on the road someday =)

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  2. Hello there!I'm an Ilonggo and I wish I could join your hikes when I go home soon!:) feel free to visit my blog too! daintyfreckles.blogspot.com

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  3. I love how you organized everything how you had a chef and meal prep I really got great tips how you went all prepare hopefully I get to do this sometime

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    1. Its your turn to explore Mt Napulak Lovely. For sure youre gonna love it there. Happy travels! =)

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