Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mt. Bulusan - A Majestic Climb

Bulusan Lake. The major jump-off for the climb.
If not for the thick fog, the Bulusan peak is visible from this vantage point. 
Fast Facts
  • Mt. Bulusan is an active stratovolcano located in Bulusan, Sorsogon (Bicol Region).
  • Last eruption recorded was February of 2011.
  • It has a peak elevation of 1,565 MASL (Meters Above Sea Level)
  • Major jump off for the climb is at Lake Bulusan, Brgy. San Roque, Bulusan
  • Days required / Hours to summit: 1-2 days / 6-9 hours
  • Major climb with 6 scale of difficulty and class 3 trail. (personal perception)
  • Features offered by Bulusan: Three lakes (Bulusan, Aguinay, and Black Bird), Volcanic crater, and Tropical rainforest
  • Mobile network signal fluctuates the entire duration of the climb.
We woke up from the cool breeze coming from the Bulusan Lake amidst the buzzing sound of cicadas. Today, we will have a taste of an unplanned sweet adventure escape by climbing an active stratovolcano named Bulusan.

The Characters

At the summit of Bulusan (behind us is the volcano's  crater)
from the left: Missy, Jim Bryan, Cristalyn, and Alvin
Missy - the prime mover
Jim Bryan - my sidekick
Cristalyn Pineda - the come-what-may girl
Alvin Marin - the come-what-may guy

Why we Climbed Bulusan Volcano?

When we booked our flight to Legaspi, our primary intention is to summit the world's renowned perfect cone - Mt. Mayon. However, because of the difficulty to find a reliable guide who will not rip off our pockets we ended up in the jump off of Bulusan Lake.

Everything went off as they came. We took one step at a time. When we reached Lake Bulusan where registration happens, a guy approached us and ask if we were the group of mountaineers who have called for reservation. From that statement alone, we knew that reservation is needed in order to get a permit to climb Bulusan. Controlling ourselves not to lie, we blurted out - “Walk in lang po kami” (We’re just walk-ins).

Note: You have to make reservation if you plan to climb Mt. Bulusan as the LGU of Bulusan, Sorsogon limits the number of climbers to 20 pax per day. If the number is beyond that, special request should be secured from the mayor’s office.

… but the universe conspired!

The group of 10 who were supposed to climb that day were not able to make it as their flights were cancelled due to the typhoon Ofel and thus we took over their place. We paid all the necessary fees, pitched our tent (in the registration area) at the Bulusan Lake, and let the rainy night passed. The day after, 10AM in the morning, we already had our permits to climb the volcano signed by Mayor Michael Guysayko himself.

Henceforth, our adventure begins!

The Climb (October 27-28, 2012)

Of more than 20 mountains (let us consider Bulusan as a mountain instead of a volcano) I climbed, I can dare say that Bulusan Volcano has the most magical appeal. It is very rich in fauna and flora and it possesses a cleanliness beyond compare! Kudos to the people behind the care of Mt. Bulusan lead by Philip Bartilet with a full support from the Local Government Unit (LGU).

It is maybe an exaggeration if I say that the only non-biodegradable trash I saw in the entire Bulusan trails are the plastic wrappers tied on stems that are sporadically situated in the area. Those were the plastic bags for the seedlings and they serve as a sign that there is a new seedling planted in that area. Other than that, no cigarette butts, no tissues, no papers, no candy wrappers, no whatsoever. I do not know if the cleanliness only coincide with our climb; nevertheless, I was amazed by the nattiness and maintenance of the place.

Some of the beautiful fauna
Our adventure climb started by kayaking across the Bulusan Lake, which is a major attraction in Sorsogon itself. When we reached the trail head at the other side of the lake, our three-hour trek commenced. 

We entered a tropical rainforest and went through a gradual assault.  After the Ranger Station, the mini slopes became steeper and narrower. In between this area from Bulusan Lake to Aguinay Lake, each climber will have to plant a seedling as part of trekking program designed by the park officials. And so we did. Seedlings will be provided by the park, and it is included in your registration fee. (Awesome right?! I have been longing to plant my own tree on any of the mountain I climbed, but only Bulusan made this possible!)

Trails are clear cut and were generally well-maintained. Some parts of the trails were infested by limatik (blood sucking leech), and for some unknown reason like that of Mt. Makiling and Mt. Pantingan, not even single limatik dared to suck my blood; although I was so scared the entire trek time.  Some areas are also slippery but quite manageable, even during heavy rains. Several minutes before the campsite, the guide pointed out a small Bulusan-like lake on our right side. We failed to get near it as it is surrounded by thick grass and ferns of different species.

The three-hours trek ended at the campsite which is in Lake Aguingay. The view was breathtaking. The campsite is so beautiful as it was situated in between two peaks - the main summit of Bulusan Volcano and the Sharp Peak. During clear starry rainless night, this is one of the places I want to go to do stargazing!

We spent our night there. Around 5AM the day after, we ascended to the summit. It was a continuous more than three-hour assault and we were playing hide-and-seek with the sun and rain. Most of the time, the sun was hiding and the rain was seeking us. We reached the summit, which is the crater itself past the hour of 8 in the morning. For roughly 20 minutes amidst the rage of the wind and icy cold rain, we patiently waited for Mr. sun to shine, but he never did, so we decided to start trekking down the slippery slopes again until we reached the campsite.

It was lunchtime when we reached the campsite. We prepared the remaining food we have - rice and noodles. We filled up our empty stomach and packed up.

We never had a clearing neither we saw the “inside” of the crater but we are very contented with what Bulusan have offered us. I do not usually go back to mountains I already climbed, unless they managed to secure a special place in my heart. In addition to Mt. Manabu (because of Tatay Pirye), I am adding Mt. Bulusan (because of its amazing wonders) to the list of my mountains that are worth coming back to!

Projected Expenses

Bus from Manila to LegaspiPhp760.00 (You can opt to book a flight bound to Legaspi to save time.)
Bus/Van Legaspi to Sorsogon CityBus fare costs Php70.00 while van fare costs Php90.00
Jeep from Sorsogon City - IrosinPhp50.00 per head
Tricycle from Irosin to Bulusan Park/Lake (Jump-off)Php300 per ride
Registration FeePhp350.00 per climber (inclusive of kayaking, seedling, laminated certificate, and a token)
Guide FeePhp500 per day for every 5 participants
Porter Fee Php350.00 per day

Before you say it’s expensive, try checking the majestic mountain first. I will tell you, Bulusan is worth every dime you will spend.

After your climb, you can go for a relaxing bath in
Mateo Hot and Cold Springs Resort.


AGAP Customer Service (for climb reservation and other queries) mobile number:  +639192231536
Mr. Philip Bartilet (Park Manager/AGAP President)  mobile number: +639088968826, E-mail address: phil_bartilet@yahoo.com

Like our Facebook Fanpage and check out more photos of Bulusan Voncano's flora and fauna.

1 comment:

I may not be able to reply to your comment/s, but rest assured that I am reading each and everyone of them. Thank you for dropping by and taking some time to drop me a note. I do appreciate.

I wish you luck and happiness. Keep on travelling, find your happy place. :)