The Grand Father of Philippine Mountains


Apo  is a Filipino word means “ancestor” or “grandfather”  “or master” and or “elder” is a large solfataric, potentially-active stratovolcano. Located between Davao City and Davao del Sur Province and Cotabato province with elevation 2,954 meters (9,692 ft) above sea level, with a vast area of 72,796 hectares is the highest mountain in the Philippines, and the second in all of Southeast Asia’s mountains.


National Park

Mount Apo was declared as National Park in May 9, 1936 with proclamation No. 59 by President Manuel L. Quezon, followed by proclamation No. 35 of May 8, 1966  then proclamation No. 882 of September 24, 1996. On February 3, 2004, the approval of Republic Act No. 9237 established Mount Apo as protected area under the category of “national park” with an area of 54,974.87 hectares (135,845.9 acres), with two peripheral areas of 2,571.73 hectares (6,354.9 acres) and 6,506.4 hectares (16,077.77) as buffer zones, provided for its management and its purposes.


Mount Apo is actually a volcano but is certified inactive and has no recorded eruptions. The non eruption in historical times,  produces abundant flora and fauna. Mount Apo is known of the most ecologically rich mountains in the region.The mountain are home to various species of endemic animals, and hundred of endemics species of plants, including rare and threaten species.


UNESCO World Heritage

The Department of Environment and  Natural Resources (DENR) submitted Mount Apo on December 12, 2009 for inclusion in the UNESCO world heritage list. The DENR considered the Mount Apo as the center of endemism in Mindanao. It has the one of the highest land based biological diversity in terms of flora and fauna per unit area. It has 3 distinct forest and finally to a high mountain forest.


The first two attempt of climbing Mount Apo is a failure, that of Jose Oyanguren in 1852 and Senor Real in 1870. The first recorded succesful expidition was led by Don Joaquin Rajal in October 10, 1880. The oldest climber documented to climb Mount Apo are Froilan Mendez and Salvador Sebastian, who are 65 and 76 years old in 2009, using the Kidapawan trails.


Mount Apo is one of the country’s popular climbing destination and a dream mountain to many Filipino mountaineers. Although not even half of the height of Mount Everest,  foreign mountaineers got interest to climb the mountain,  considering this is the highest peak of the Philippines. Trekking time, approximately 10 hours depending on your pace.

Mountaineering Fee: Student Php. 400.00,;Standard (local) Php.500.00; Foreign Php. 700.00


 The Jump-off  in Barangay Ilomavis

Climbing Mount Apo,  requires to register and pay the corresponding amount the  in City Tourism Office in Kidapawan proper. There are  briefing about the rules and regulations, the  the do’s and the don’t, and the most is the garbage problem, and be a responsible mountaineer, not to dispose any garbage within the mountain.  There are also a medical test which commonly check the blood pressure of the climbers.

If you want to avail the services of porters, there are many in the jump off waiting to be called

Porter Rates: Php.250.00 – 350.00 per day ; Guide Fee Php. 500.00 per day.


 The first river crossing.

Kidapawan trail is one of the many trails climbing Mount Apo, Kidapawan is the most popular and considered the easy trail, Climbing time/day is 3 days, 2 days ascend and 1 day descend.



 The traditional trail of Kidapayan,  needs to cross about 6 – 7  improvise bridges along Marbel River. The bridges in the lower trails are easier and complete with  handles. Getting far, the bridges are difficult to cross, no support at all, where balancing is required or else you will fall in the river.




 There are 2 campsite in between the jump-off and the lake Venado, the Matia-o camp site and the Ko-ong camp site. The 2 camp sites are used as resting area for mountaineers, Mountaineers can also pitch tent in these areas and stayed for a night especially for those who started climbing late instead of trekking in the middle of the night.  During summer there are many food items sold in both  camp site and the camp site in Venado lake, all are managed by the Bagobo tribe-folk.



For some slope of 70 to 80 degrees, the  wood ladders is an interesting part of the climb from here most  trail is getting steep.


Getting more steep, making the trek more challenging and memorable.


The paint of hardship in trekking is a sweet things to remember, this is an unwavering commitment for my self.


 The  forest shelter from the sun, gives us incentives to find more energy to push and face the challenge of this mountain.


After the never ending trail, a big turned from the forest, you wonder struct, suddenly appears a hectares of wide flat field. The reality of the challenge is 3 hours closer.


The far end of the flat field is the Sacred and Mystical  Lake Venado. This lake is endorheic lake or endorheic basin, meaning it doesn’t flow into the sea. During dry seasons the lake usually loses two third of its size because of the evaporation. It is nestled on the plateau, the remains of  Moount Apo’s crater.

 Venerado lake is the smallest and the highest lake in the Philippines, with the estimated elevation of 7,200 feet above sea level, with a maximum depth of 20 feet. Swimming in the lake is prohibited, because of its elevation, the water is freezing cold, which could cause cramps on the swimmer. Smallest because this is just small vessel of water during summer and or sunny days, but during rainy days (heavy rains) the hectares of this open field is covered by water, where no place for a mountaineers to set up their tents.

The name “Venado”comes from Spanish word meaning “deer”, termed as such because of the deer-like shape of the lake. However, the local people living in the area call the Lake “Linaw”, a Cebuano term for “clear”, because the water in the lake is crystal clear and reflecting the peak of Mount Apo. According to the local tribes people, the lake is believed to be enchanted by spirits.


Called as the “Tent City of the Mountain”  is a popular camping sites of mountaineers. en route and those coming down from the peak.


This spacious area is a melting pot of  Mount Apo climbers, here mountaineers from different trails meet,intersect together, a paradise of bonding and become a friend after exchanging experience in climbing different  mountains.


 The vicinity are so relaxing,  the cold breeze  is like a therapeutic healing from a long trekking, a wonderful stress relieving place in this part of this mountain. To stay and sleep overnight is a  unforgettable experience.


When the sky’s are cleared, from the top of the peak you can witness the awesome beauty of the lake and the camp site.


The Peak

The ultimate goal, despite  of all the hardship in trekking, and a long costly travel from wherever you came from is a remarkable accomplishment, reaching the highest peak of the Philippines.


 The challenge   gives a high morale and spirit to continue seeking more  mountains and discover other beautiful places in the country.



 After the challenge is done, the distant dream is tightly embrace to wave my national flag , wearing my national costumes, in the highest peak in my own country. A long dream that I  want to experience in the future climb in  foreign mountain to wave my flag and show that Filipinos can be and always be on top.



Climbing Mount Apo is a great story, to discover a new trail leading down is another breathtaking story to remember.


Trekking down, still in Kidapawan trail but we skipped the Ko-ong camp sites instead we traverse via Mainit trail and cross the Marbel river and pass trough Matia-o camp site. This trail was closed for  many years, and there’s a warning to all mountaineers who used this trail, will be banned for life to climb Mount Apo.



 The banned of using this trail is is due to land slide that killed some of the locals including child on their way going up to mountain. The century trees and towering Almaciga trees was  falling down on the said landslide.


 Hot spring water before the Marbel river.



 Getting tired and feel drained, I forgot to take a breaks and relax, I exceeded my limits,  descend is part of the challenge and Marbel river is also a challenging  part to  make the climb become one of  my best.


Trekking along Marbel river during summer looks slow moving and calm.




  During rainy day it is getting deeper and the rapids  become powerful. The fast flow is enough force to knock off feet and unsafe to all trekkers. Passing to the bridges is also dangerous, where waters overflows above the improvise  bridges.


 End of river crossing.


 The last part of of many up and down.


 The last look, to the field sulfur vent, where we avoid  in the early part of the trail, for the fear to get dizzy due to its foul smell.


 Back to where we started.  The joy of surviving Mount Apo is great story to share.


Right after the climb we proceed to Lake Agko, the sulfuric hot spring water resort in the area.


Lake Agko is few meters away in the jump off.  The lake is called as the Garden of Eden in Kidapawan City. This is located  on the foot of Mount Apo, Kidapawan trail.  Surrounded by mountain ranges and still a part of Mount Apo protected area.  The lake is one of the most visited spot in the area.

There are several hot spring resorts  where the visitors can choose;  The Agko Mahomanoy Mountain Resort, Madadma Mountain Resort and Antayan Mountain Resort


 There are also some areas for a camping sites  for the mountaineer who have their own tent. Rooms for rent are also available, room rates around Php. 500.00, rates increases depending to the number of persons stayed per room.  To all visitors who want to stay the whole day or overnight, it is advisable to bring foods from the town proper. Theres no restaurant in the resorts. The foods items sell in the store near the resorts is limited to sandwiches, cup noodles, coffe, and others and very expensive and not  good enough for complete meals.

Getting There:

Travel time from Kidapawan City to Lake Agko is around  45 minutes to 1 hour by public utility vehicles, van or by jeep but you needs to wait till all seats are filled with passengers (alas puno)  and or hire the jeep and pay the whole trip. For fastest and cheaper transportation and to get  trill,  you can hire a single motorcycle (habal-habal) good for  3 – 5 passengers for Php. 250.00- Php. 300.00 one way, travel time around 30 minutes or less.


Important Things to Bring:

  • Tent
  • Food and Drinks good for 3 days
  • Cook Set and Butane
  • Toilet Paper/Wet Wipes
  • Flashlight
  • Camera
  • Jacket/Gloves





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