Earth Life Lately

Where It All Began: Mt. Pico de Loro

mt pico de loro

I have always thought that I was not a mountain climber. A previous experience with mountain climbing left me bloodied, wounded and terrified of inclined slopes so I unconsciously vowed not to climb again.

To add to that, I was the kind of person who trips, falls and slips even on flat surfaces. Definitely not made for vertical challenges. So how did I end up at the highest peak of Cavite?

The Reluctant Climber

Well for one, there was something about the beautifully photogenic Mt. Pico de Loro. My friends have gone before me (I chose to be left behind) and their photos made me feel that it’s my loss to have passed up the opportunity to give mountain climbing a second try. Especially this mountain. Many have fallen in love with Mt. Pico de Loro magnificent bird’s eye view.

And so, three months after, I finally signed up to an open climb to Mt. Pico de Loro with Lyka (my best friend) who has climbed three other mountains within several months and was hungry for more. As for me, my only motivation for signing up was to capture photos of the famous monolith or toreng bato without necessarily climbing it.

Scaling up the Mountain

Mt. Pico de Loro (or Mt. Palay-Palay) is considered the highest mountain in my hometown Cavite at 2246 feet. It lies between Ternate, Cavite and Nagsugbu, Batangas. If it symbolizes anything, it’s that I will be going up to the edge of my comfort zone! Lyka and I were joined several other climbers to Mt. Pico de Loro, including two Germans who were backpacking the country and have been to countless places around here. They have fallen in love with the country with such passion.

After some introductions and warm ups at the jumpoff point, we finally hiked our way up Mt. Pico de Loro. It was definitely a great time to climb; the weather was chill and breezy, and the sun didn’t shine so much to tire or dehydrate us.

The trail was an easy hike, although you will have to endure to the top where it gets more inclined and rocky. There’s a stopover early on where you can buy water and go to the loo.

Meeting the Masters of the Trail

During the climb, we also got to befriend our guides from Trail Adventours. Each guide have traversed at least 20 mountains both locally and abroad — that is, not counting the mountains they have climbed repeatedly. These toughies climb almost weekly, while others consider climbing as a once a year thing!

These people — both Filipino guides and foreign climbers — have clearly seen something unmistakably beautiful about the Philippines and its various geographic features. They go out regularly and eagerly to taste and see what the country can offer.

The Sight that Launched More Climbs

Upon hours of insightful chitchats, exchange of appreciation about the Philippine tourist, catching breaths and rehydrating, we soon reached the campsite of Mt. Pico de Loro. It was armed with a beautiful view of Cavite and other provinces! Chorused gasps and gushes escaped our lips.

Immediately I thought, “I want to climb more mountains.” There were big camping tents of groups having a picnic at the site. Seems like looking for a community of people who love the Philippine outdoors isn’t hard to find.

From behind us, you can see the “Parrot’s Beak”, hence the name Pico de Loro. As if my challenge was heard immediately, weren’t at the peak of the mountain just yet. The path is inclined at nearly an 80 degree angle, like climbing up a slide.

So, shortly after catching our breath and enjoying the view, we finally decided to hike up the peak —  “girls on top” fashion!


Road to the Summit and the Monolith

The climb up to the peak of Mt. Pico de Loro was tremendously steep. I had to ask a local to hold my DSLR for me as I claw my way up lest it hits the rocks. He was one of the locals who regularly climbed the mountain to sell cold drinks to campers and climbers.

How steep? Above was my shot of people climbing up, with the foot of the peak unseen. No ropes or railings, of course. I was literally crawling in an uphill battle, almost gave up in fear of slipping and wounding myself from the rocks again. But thanks to the local and the cheer of my fellow climbers, we all made it!


The Chess Pieced that Dropped from Heaven

And you know what? It was totally worth it! Here is Lyka’s picture perfect view of the imposing monolith atop Mt. Pico de Loro’s peak. You can only see it from the summit. It was such a natural work of wonder, I wonder if God dropped one of His chess pieces from heaven. Frankly, I don’t know how anyone would conceive to climb it.

As they say, your Pico de Loro climb is incomplete if you don’t get to the monolith. Challenge accepted. I left my camera with my fellow climbers who declined to go and up I came to the monolith.

The climb took physical strength and a tight grip to climb vertically with a very short rope, and then crawl up again to the steep slope until you come to the top. It doesn’t help to think you are surrounded with a 600 meter ravine atop the 60 meter vertical cliff. Even though I was almost sure I’ll make the 600 meter drop, I made it!

mt pico de loro
The vantage point makes it seem like exclusive lighthouse for the brave to oversee the vast forest-covered terrains of Maragondon and Nagsugbu. The even more exhilarating feel was that I can climb mountains after all. All it took was a literally different perspective to confirm that.

Just seeing the photos of Mt. Pico de Loro taken by our newfound friends inspired me that I can climb another mountain. Finally, I got to see the picturesque sight I climbed for, and I was even part of it. Thanks to the German backpackers, our highly experienced guides, our encouraging fellow climbers and locals who helped us, I finally started the road to mountain climbing.

mt pico de loro

And wouldn’t you know, in two years, I will have climbed Mt. Pico de Loro five times, mostly as a guide! Here’s klutzy people climbing mountains!


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  • Reply
    Amazing Life Daily
    August 26, 2016 at 6:52 PM

    Kulitin mo ako Sam, why should I do it? Takot ako sa mataas eh. WHY??? WHY SHOULD I??? Sure, the view, I have an idea pero until I am there, I wouldn’t know. The satisfaction of getting on top? The problem is getting down! So why??? LOL!

  • Reply
    August 9, 2016 at 1:42 AM

    Ive always wanted to go to pico loro but dont have company to go to. 🙁 but given a chance I would definitely start with this like what you have done.

  • Reply
    July 19, 2016 at 7:27 AM

    I love the photos and the stories which felt like climbing Mt. Pico de Loro . This is definitely one of the mountains I will plan to climb next year. Thanks for sharing the some tips about Mt. Pico de Loro.

  • Reply
    Marge Gavan
    July 17, 2016 at 5:39 AM

    I chose to comment on this post of yours because I am currently writing my own post about Pico de Loro. The climb happened in March so that’s how behind I am in my articles hahaha…

    Anyway, I loved the view at Pico de Loro, but unlike you I didn’t have a success story. I don’t want to give a spoiler though haha… I loved climbing it though, personally I found it easy except the climbing the summit part.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      July 19, 2016 at 12:16 AM

      I think I’ve read about it on your Instagram. To be fair, the summit was difficult during the recent years because of soil erosion. Even though I’ve climbed this five times, it’s still labor. Especially the monolith. Looking forward to read your post 🙂

  • Reply
    Mary Ann Clemente
    May 4, 2016 at 6:22 PM

    I can totally relate with you in the sense that I don’t really climb mountains. I agree with you that the climb to Mt. Pico is really steep. When we went there, we mostly did DIY, but then upon seeing the steepness of the mountain. We decided to hire a local guide to help us through. Thank fully, we did or else I would neither reach the summit of Mt. Pico nor the Parrot’s Beak since I don’t have strength to pull myself. I was scared of going back down the steep trail so we went on traverse instead. Whew… Although they say that mountain is for beginners, it’s actually the most difficult one for beginners. We only knew after we climbed it. Yes, this is the first mountain I’ve climbed.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      May 10, 2016 at 2:48 PM

      So glad to hear we share the first mountain! I get really sentimental with Pico. I thought I wouldnt make it too. Hope more people will get to experience climbing so they know how strong they really are 🙂

  • Reply
    Annette Charmaine Castillon
    April 25, 2015 at 12:56 PM

    Hi! My friends and I are planning to conquer Mt. Palay Palay this coming friday, I just wanna ask if a guide is needed in climbing the parrots beak? Our response will be highly appreciated. 🙂 thank you.

    Nice Article by the way. 🙂

    • Reply
      Annette Charmaine Castillon
      April 25, 2015 at 12:57 PM


    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      April 26, 2015 at 9:06 PM

      Hi Annette, thanks for dropping by 🙂 Check out an update on this blog on the new trail. It’s intuitive for me, I climbed it without a guide. But I recommend hiring one anyway esp if you guys are first time climbers.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Francis Balgos
    January 27, 2015 at 3:45 PM

    Wow! You were there first before I did..
    Gonna climb this Mountain again next weekend, with a new set of gang..
    What an amazing experience you must have had to change your perspective.
    Lets climb more Mountains! 🙂

  • Reply
    Olivia Fernandez
    April 6, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    I love this kind of adventure. Thats why I joined the military 🙂

  • Reply
    Albert Lorenzana
    April 5, 2014 at 5:41 PM

    Hi. Our group has planned to climb Pico this April 19. Most of us our first-timer, is there a guide needed or okay lang na wala? Nakakaligaw po ba yung trail? I’ve heard there’s a fork naman. Yung rope po sa Parrot’s beak matibay po ba?
    Yung trike na sasakyan papunta sa DENR nasa magkano per head? Nasa more than 10 kasi kami. Thanks a lot. Pasensya na po. I really enjoyed reading your post ’bout Pico. Stay blessed. Apir!

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      April 7, 2014 at 5:25 AM

      Hi Albert! Thank you for posting here. Yes you can go without a guide, if you guys are really adventurous 🙂 There is a fork where my friends got lost, but you have to be keen on watching out for it. It won’t be a problem I think. Lemme give you an overview, my friends spent just 700 pesos each for everything, overnight. So if you’re 10 in a group, you’ll spend around the same amount 🙂

      • Reply
        Albert Lorenzana
        April 10, 2014 at 8:07 PM

        Hi Samatha! Thanks for the advise. We’re more than 10. So excited to climb this 19. Just want to ask kung hindi mahirap sumakay ng bus sa coastal mall? Holy week e. Woul you know? Thanks a lot! Hi-5!

        • Reply
          Samantha Isabel
          April 11, 2014 at 4:30 AM

          Not at all! Just check out the schedule of the bus para iwas hintayan lang 🙂

  • Reply
    Rowena Vargas
    April 3, 2014 at 3:08 AM

    Congratulations!Wow! I’ve always wanted to do mountain climbing. It’s just that I don’t have mountain climber friends and I’m not sure if I can survive the climb:(

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      April 3, 2014 at 4:56 AM

      Join some open climbs then, you can meet new friends there 🙂

  • Reply
    March 30, 2014 at 1:31 PM

    Very inspiring post. I wish I could climb that mountain too. That toreng bato is breathtaking.

  • Reply
    Mitch Ryan
    March 29, 2014 at 5:52 AM

    My husband and I were able to climb Mt. Apo in Davao City when we were a bit younger. It gave us a feeling of great fulfillment especially because we took the most difficult trail.

  • Reply
    March 27, 2014 at 11:41 PM

    Oh My god 🙂 how lovely place it is 🙂 This is good for a team of adventures 🙂

  • Reply
    March 27, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    I am completely unaware of Mt. Pico de Loro until I saw your post. Now I surely will convince my wife and friends to climb with me. Very beautiful! I’m sure it will be a great experience for us. Thanks for sharing… God bless!

  • Reply
    March 27, 2014 at 5:34 AM

    Wow! That should be terrifying and rewarding at the same time. I salute you for having that courage to climb the top especially that you’re a girl. 🙂

  • Reply
    여행벽 (@edgy_mph)
    March 27, 2014 at 5:30 AM

    A friend and I were just there last Sunday (March 23) and traversed to Nasugbu.

    A navy heli playfully hovering over at Mt Pico de Loro last Sunday! #sundayfunday #Mountaineering #hiking— 여행벽 (@edgy_mph) March 27, 2014

    Been there several times but never climbed the monolith! That’s why I so envy you! 🙂 nice photos you’ve got there!
    Keep climbing!!

  • Reply
    March 27, 2014 at 2:39 AM

    This post makes me want to try mountain climbing too! 😀

  • Reply
    Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen
    March 27, 2014 at 2:19 AM

    I am very much afraid of heights so I don’t think I could be a mountain climber but I admire you for doing so.

  • Reply
    Patty | MrsC
    March 26, 2014 at 7:25 AM

    Wow, that’s an amazing photo at the peak! I’m really not the outdoorsy type. For me to have a photo like that, I’d probably need to be lowered from above via helicopter hahaha! Or I could always Photoshop myself in. I loved reading about your experience, though! 🙂

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      March 26, 2014 at 1:30 PM

      Haha!! I’m sure a little practice can take you there. Or yes Photoshop almost always solves anything :))

  • Reply
    Jaja of Beauty Colada
    March 26, 2014 at 6:44 AM

    Congrats! The view looks stunning. Im sure its all worth it 🙂

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 12:52 AM

    I’ve always heard good things about this mountain 🙂 You are so brave to go to these kinds of places. I wish I am too 🙂

  • Reply
    Mr. Jacob's Mom (@MrJacobsMom)
    March 25, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    How I wish I was the adventurous type, too! I’d do something like this!

  • Reply
    Fashion Travels (@tauyanm)
    March 25, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    congrats sis! i would love to see myself on a high peak mountain as well! its a big achievement for you hope I can do the same too very soon! x0~

  • Reply
    March 25, 2014 at 9:46 AM

    I envy you for climbing since I’ve been wanting that for ages. I just got no time and was very busy with work.

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      March 25, 2014 at 2:30 PM

      A daytrip is enough! Try it, maybe in the Holy Week 🙂

  • Reply
    March 25, 2014 at 6:19 AM

    Congrats! That’s a great achievement.

  • Reply
    March 25, 2014 at 5:04 AM

    I hope to try climbing Mt. Pico De Loro someday though I might do a trail run there next month.

  • Reply
    Aisha Kristine Chong
    March 24, 2014 at 11:55 PM

    Those kind of adventures are things that are truly worthwhile after all the effort and hardwork. 😀

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      March 25, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      Exactly! Very rewarding physically and spiritually 🙂

  • Reply
    May De Jesus-Palacpac
    March 24, 2014 at 6:24 PM

    I’ve only climbed one mountain — Cuenca and got to climb the rockies too. I loved it but sadly, no longer had a chance to do so after me and mountaineer ex-bf broke up. 🙁 I don’t miss him, i miss the hike and the climb, haha!

    Good for you. I want to do this again but will have to wait till the kids are ready to climb with us.:)

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      March 25, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      Haha! Thanks for sharing 🙂 You can always find outdoor groups who are friendly enough to climb with strangers. Try an open climb with Trail Adventours or join couchsurfing groups 🙂 Where is Cuenca by the way?

  • Reply
    Kenneth Manaloto
    March 24, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    Oh my ! that was such an amazing trail to take and that peek is really wonderful it is so great that you have shared these great photos and also your experiences I hope I can go to this place someday.

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      March 25, 2014 at 2:01 PM

      The trail is easy enough for beginners. It wasn’t that difficult to take good photos because the place itself is good 🙂

  • Reply
    Leira Bhagwani Pagaspas
    March 24, 2014 at 3:56 PM

    To be honest I didn’t know thatt there was a Pico De Loro Mountain all I know was a Pico De Loro Resort.

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      March 25, 2014 at 1:57 PM

      Really? I know vice versa. I haven’t seen the resort though 🙂

  • Reply
    Janice / The Roller Coaster Ride
    March 24, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    Wow, I envy you. Mountain climbing is really not my thing too. The only “mountain climbing” I’ve ever done was to the peak of the Taal Volcano, and it was a college class requirement. Haha! What a great accomplishment for you though. The view is amazing!

  • Reply
    Kenneth @ Glitter Daily
    March 24, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    such a gorgeous place! I’ve always wanted to visit pico de loro and hopefully soon mapuntahan ko na din siya.

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      March 24, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      Try mo 🙂 it’s the nearest mountain in Manila and a very beautiful one at that. You can look for open climbs at Trail Adventours 🙂

  • Reply
    March 24, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    Congrats.! I first saw this beautiful masterpiece on pinoyadventurista’s blog and i was amazed by it’s beauty. Wanna experience that feeling of overcoming fear. Now you made it. Go climb more and share to the world the beauty of Philippines.!

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      March 24, 2014 at 3:08 PM

      I will! We have so many beautiful mountains we should climb 🙂

  • Reply
    March 24, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    This really a great achievement for you,you did a great job no doubt.

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      March 24, 2014 at 2:59 PM

      For a non-mountain climber it was a feat! Thanks Dev 🙂

  • Reply
    Spanish the Philippines
    March 24, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    Super congrats. What an achievement! You can clearly see also the happiness it gives you thru all those smiling faces. So yes yes yes I cn see it’s worth the try and makes me want to do it as well 🙂

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      March 24, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      True! All of a sudden, my fellow climbers and I are friends already. Iba yung bonding 🙂 Try it! Or any mountain for that matter 🙂

  • Reply
    Together we roam (@tweroam)
    March 24, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    Congratulations. What a great effort. The photo’s really helped visualize your words. That second last photo at the summit of the mountain. Amazing. Well done.

  • Reply
    Andreea Leau
    March 24, 2014 at 7:18 AM

    Wow! That huge rock is just wow! I barerly believe that you can really climb that rock. I think it’s amazing to be on the top of the world..

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      March 24, 2014 at 2:57 PM

      I know right! Whoever climbed the monolith the first time really had guts. Admiring it from afar should enough for me :)) But I’m glad I can say I’ve climbed it 🙂

  • Reply
    March 24, 2014 at 5:00 AM

    Cheers! Grats! I’d love to do a shoot there hihi hope they’ll allow 😛

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      March 24, 2014 at 6:21 AM

      They do! Although you have to carry your things to a 3-hour hike 🙂 It’s every shutterbug’s dream to take a photo of the monolith 🙂

  • Reply
    March 23, 2014 at 5:33 AM

    Wow, I’m glad that you made it to the parrot’s beak. I’ll aim for that when I get the chance to climb Mt. Palay-palay though I’m not sure if I have enough strength to do it. It has been more than two years since my first climb & I haven’t climb any mountain yet except for Mt. Pinatubo. Hopefully I can climb two mountains this year. I also want to climb Mt. Pulag. 🙂

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      March 24, 2014 at 4:19 AM

      I’m sure you can do it 🙂 I myself am not an experienced climber, but the view from the top and the monolith are quite breathtaking — something you HAVE to see. Pulag it is!! That’s the ultimate dream 🙂

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