Argao as considered one of the best places in the Southeastern part of Cebu has a lot to offer aside from its rich heritage and culture. From the wide array of tourism offerings like caves, beaches, springs, waterfalls and the infamous Argao’s Torta and Bahalina, it has a lot more to offer to adrenaline junkies too.
For many, Argao has been underrated in terms of Tourist Attractions. But considering all the beauties of nature that Argao can offer is just mind blowing. It is in Argao that you can find a lot of interesting places like “mini rice terraces’ in Butong, Argao, and the Coal Mountain Resort which offers an all-in-one adventure place. To top it all, Argao has at least 4 mighty mountains that are less trodden by most mountaineers and mostly didn’t even heard of it yet. These mountains were Mount Lantoy, Mount Takliad, Mount Tiposo and Mount Binalabag. These mountains are registered attractions by Argao Tourism but there are also less known ones.
Travel is the only thing that we can buy that makes us richer. They say that we can’t buy happiness. Yes, it’s true but we can always buy plane tickets and it’s the next best thing, isn’t it? Actually the best gift we could give to ourselves is a lifetime of travel adventures as it brings power and love back to our lives. Yes, we travel to escape the daily routines and have a break from the chaotic city life but it doesn’t mean we’re escaping life. We should travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us. We should do it whenever we can, as the future is promised to no one. One thing I learned from traveling is that wherever I’ll go, I must go with all my heart.
Traveling will be more rewarding when shared with good friends and love ones. The memories that we will be creating along every journey will always be imprinted in our minds no matter what as travel is worthy of any cost or sacrifice. These will always stay in our hearts as time goes by. These things will make us even more richer, gain more wisdom and become a storyteller.
Answering to the wanderlust in us, we had an almost spontaneous escape from the city together with my good friends, fellow outdoor/travel bloggers foureyedlaagan, wanderingfeetPH and few guests. The plan was to explore Mount Lantoy and Mount Takliad with several side trips like waterfalls and caving but due to weather constraints, we modified the itinerary and just proceeded to Mount Takliad instead.
Mount Takliad is a mountain located in barangay Cansuje about 11 kilometres inland from municipality of Argao, Cebu Philippines. Despite being registered as a potential tourist attraction for mountaineers by the Tourism Office, Mount Takliad is one of the mountains that are less frequented by mountaineers. It stands at around 700 MASL (approximate reading based on mobile phone’s altimeter) with a ridge like feature. Mount Takliad peak has a stunning 360 degrees overlooking view of the neighboring mountains and one of those is the elusive and mystical Mount Lantoy. On the eastern part of the peak is a cliff, overlooking the Usmad River.
The Mount Takliad Experience:
The Jaunt to the Lost Trail:
The jaunt started with a registration at Agao’s Tourism Office. The Tourism office was kind enough to provide our guides and open their office on a Saturday to assist us. The guides already contacted the motorcycle taxis that hauled us to the jump off at Barangay Conalum. The trip to Barangay Conalum was about 30-40-minute ride. At the barangay hall at Conalum, Argao there would be an onsite registration and a collection of 20 pesos per person.
No one in the group had been to Mount Takliad so we were basically entrusting ourselves to our guides. We don’t have an idea on what to expect and what kind of trail we are going to take. After our onsite registration, we headed to the jump off. The head guide gave us a short briefing about the trek, it’s pretty basic info but still they have to do it as it is a standard protocol.
We have really no idea what type of trail awaits us as we go trekking to the summit of Mount Takliad. We started our ascent from the jump off point in Conalum, Argao. There are residences along the foot path trail going up. Few more steps and the trail was kind of rocky and mossy signifying that the trail we’re taking was a less frequented one. As we went up a bit towards a thick vegetation getting away from the locals’ houses, the trail was getting more and more unnoticeable. Most part were having loose soil, aside from covered with moss, some parts were covered by grasses or fallen leaves and that made our trek a bit challenging.
After trekking for more than an hour, the team was excited as we get passed the steep ascent and we were about to follow the trail on the ridge going up to the summit. But the unexpected happened – we got lost or the trail was just erased or the guides forgot the trail? The guides led us to a dead end. So it’s either we climb up the boulders or pass through the thick forest or jump off the cliff? The guides tried to scout for a passable trail ahead but to no avail, it is not worth the risk. The guides made the call to get back and find the alternative trail on the other side of the mountain. We back trailed a bit and went to the other side of the mountain and go around going to the foot of Mount Takliad.
We passed by an easy trail down, passed by a small rice field and farm and then went straight to a not so established but visible trail going up to the peak. The trail going up has a resemblance to the trail of Mount Lanaya but shorter. The trail is just 3/9 but it’s enough to pump up our hearts and sweat our body out. The steepness of the trail has just made our knees trembled at some point. But that doesn’t stop us from our desires to reach the peak in no time to have our lunch. Everyone was literally excited to get to the peak as our stomach were rumbling already.
The Camp Site:
We reached the peak thirty minutes past 1PM in the afternoon and ate our lunch. Right after lunch, there was a heavy downpour. Geez, we need to get cover as we were not able to pitch our tents yet. After the rain had stopped, we pitched our tents and settled down for a bit.
Mount Takliad is basically a less trodden mound and has no established camp site too. The peak has a small clearing and literally has a very small area for camping. At the peak, there is a small flat ground that can accommodate 3-4 tents. Some area on the side of the mountain peak can accommodate at least 3 tents too. Basically the peak of Mount Takliad is also the camp site and can only accommodate as much as 6-7 tents.
Dinner / Socials:
It was an almost spontaneous adventure so we were not able to bring game cards or anything for socials. We reached the peak too early and had nothing to do so we decided to have some early socials. The gang played the “Ping Pang Pong” game and had some truth and dare as consequence for the losers.
We prepared our dinner early and had it by 6pm. Again we had nothing to do after but another social activity and this time, we we’re having serious talks about ourselves. Everyone has to introduce thy own self to all as we have new guests with us. We entertained ourselves by asking (silly) questions and bullying was not an exception. LOL. We got to know each other a little too well and at the same time we had so much fun despite the absence of alcoholic drinks.
After socials, we had this crazy stuff going on wherein we stand near each other, just stared at the sky for nothing and we just laughed why we did that. We had a good time throwing jokes with each other until we called it a night at around 9PM.
The Morning after the wetly sleep
We managed to make our camp comfortable with the help of the earth pads and had our good night sleep. But the strong winds and the heavy rain downpour had awakened the whole camp. The rain water got inside our tent. The ground sheet must have gotten the water inside our tent floor that distracted our sleep. The rain stopped at nearly morning but I chose to sleep at wet tent floor as I don’t have enough sleep the days before the climb. Good thing our friends found a way to get some sleep too despite being soaked inside the tents and still manage to woke up laughing about the hilarious experience.
We had our breakfast and broke camp right after. The group decided not to proceed to Mount Lantoy because it was raining the previous night that we might not be able to cross the river due to flooding. We started our descent and Lo and behold! The trail got treacherous! It was slippery and muddy and I had my fair share of slips too. Upon arriving back at the jump off, we washed ourselves before going back to Town.
We can’t get enough of the adventure despite the not so perfect experience. Thus, half of us decided to proceed for another day of camping at Osmeña peak.
Despite the changes in itinerary and the antagonistic weather condition, the overall experience is one of a kind. The fun and the challenges that quenched our thirst for adventure made the experience a memorable one, from the trail challenges – the tumbles and slips -, the heavy rain downpour, etc. Despite the minor hiccups that we encountered in our adventures, it will seem not to matter when you spend and share it with good people around.
About the tourism, it is really nice to know that the local government was taking the initiative to control and monitor their adventure attractions. It is a bold move to help preserve the natural beauty and cleanliness of the place as well as promote safety for the tourists. However, I always hear about tourists not wanting to visit Argao for adventure or worse take it out from their bucket list for the reasons below:
- The guide fee is a bit expensive
- The territorial system of guide ship services (You need to hire another set of guides when you want to proceed for another adventure that is out of the guides jurisdiction / area.) It would be nice if it is possible that for a series of adventure, there is only one set of guide throughout from start till end of adventure.
How to get there?
- From Cebu South Bus Terminal ride a bus bound to Argao or any bus that would pass Argao
- Alight at the Town Proper (Poblacion)
- Register at the Tourism Office and secure your guide if you have not called the office beforehand.
- Hire a motorcycle taxi (habal-habal) to barangay hall at Conalum, Argao for on-site Registration
- Head back to the jump off point
- Contact the Tourism Office beforehand so that they can provide guide(s) ahead and save from being held up in the Tourism office during registration while looking for one.
- Wear proper trekking attire as the trail is not established when starting the climb from Conalum Jump off (near barangay Hall).
- Parts of the trail have loose soil that can be very slippery and muddy especially on rainy season.
- It is advisable to go in small group since the camp site is just too small to accommodate more tents. If you are with a large group, better ask the guides to camp at the foot as there is a vast area in there for camping.
- There is not enough flat surface ground for camping, so bring with you few things that would make your camping experience a lot comfortable. To know such tips, refer to my previous post, https://wanderingsoulscamper.com/2016/11/05/trail-tweaks-how-to-make-your-camping-experience-more-comfortable/
- Preserve the cleanliness of the place by observing the leave no trace principle. Whatever you bring in, pack it out. Do not throw garbage anywhere or leave anything behind rather pack it out and dispose it properly.
- Bus Fare from Cebu City ot Argao: Php 86
- Guide Fee: Php 500 per 5 pax (It was originally P800)
- Motorcycle Taxi (Habal-Habal) Fare: Php 100/pax (Php 200 /per motorcycle)
- Onsite Registration fee: Php 20 / pax
Note: Food expenses are not included here, as you may have different preferences as ours.
06:00A.M – Meet up South Bus Terminal
07:00A.M – ETD to Argao
09:30A.M – ETA Argao
09:55 AM – Argao Tourism Office registration
10:10 AM – ETD to Brgy. Conalum
10:50 AM – ETA Brgy. Conalum barangay hall (on-site registration)
11:00 AM – Jump Off and short orientation
11:10 AM – Commence trek
01:30 PM – Reached the peak!
01:50 PM – Lunch
02:30 PM – Pitch Camp
09:15 PM – Lights out
06:00A.M – Wakeup call
08:00A.M – Breakfast
09:45 AM – Break camp
10:00 AM – Start Descend
11:00 AM – Back to jump off / wash up / rest
11:20 AM – ETD to Argao Town Proper
12:00 NN – ETA Argao Town Proper