The only reasonable route we found from Davao to Naga was to fly via Cebu. It wasn’t bad, but we had to change airlines and recheck our luggage. There were no major delays and we arrived on time. Naga airport greeted us with bright sunshine and high temperatures, so some passengers used umbrellas as they walked from the plane to the building. Another nice feature of the airport is that you can see Mount Isarog in all its beauty.
A taxi took us to the hot springs resort at the foot of the mountain. It was a logistically perfect place to stay, but getting in was complicated. Everyone entering the area had to pay a small fee, including guests. After a few minutes of negotiation, we were successful and the dear guests were granted free entry.
In the morning, at the agreed time, three motorbikes arrived and took us to the entrance of the park. From the closed gates we had to walk another kilometre or so to get to the ranger station. Finally we met the park ranger with a pile of papers, a guide and a porter. There was a lot of bureaucracy involved in getting a permit, which is probably why the porter came to meet us. He seemed a little upset to learn that he had nothing to carry and could go home. Nevertheless, after registering, we were ready to go.
Most of the way is a typical jungle trail with not much new to see, especially in the clouds. Finally we came to the rim, where our guide declared that we had reached the highest point. He offered us the chance to enjoy the beautiful view of the clouds. And we did; it was truly magnificent cloud.
Maps and visual observation suggested that the summit was a few hundred metres to the south. We bushwhacked through dense jungle without a trail, which took some time. I could see some signs that people had been here before us; some bark had been removed from trees long ago, and there were old broken branches in our “path”. It didn’t seem to happen very often. We passed a few more bumps along the way and finally, in very dense bush on a steep cliff (dangerous), Rob found the high point. Petter and I soon joined him, the whole bush-moss-tree structure was shaking. It was hard to tell where the stable ground was, but it was certainly close. Our guide watched us from a distance and started to smile when he saw we weren’t going forward but back. After about twenty minutes we were back at the rim and took a short break before descending the same way we had come.
It was a very interesting hike, especially because we found and visited the true summit, not just a touristic one. The bushwalking was tough, but the reward at the top was so sweet. Afterwards we had a nice dinner in the resort, accompanied by cold beer and hot sulphur springs, which quickly restored us. The next day we were ready for our trip to Mount Labo.