Mt. Tagapo: First Camping Experience at Talim Island

Mt. Tagapo

Talim Island is the largest lake island within the largest lake in Luzon.Get a 360 degree view and get a glimpse at its highest peak, Mt. Tagapo.

Mt. Tagapo: In an Island Within a Lake

Mt. Tagapo lies at the last stop of the pumpboat from Binangonan Port. It is often used for transport goods and leaves every 45 minutes until it is fully occupied. It took us around an hour from the port to Brgy. Janosa, the jump-off point for the trek.

Some introductions with our fellow open climbers and we’re all set to scale Mt. Tagapo. It is highly advised to get a local guide because the trail can get a little confusing, as people have climbed the foot of the mountain frequently for livelihood purposes, creating many trails along the way.

Mt. Tagapo

Hot Off the Trail

Our group headed for the trail at 2PM — not exactly the best time but we had to make it in time to set up camp and cook. The trail of Mt. Tagapo was mostly surrounded with bamboo, which unfortunately do not provide much shade, and a lot of shallow ravines to watch out for.

It only takes around 1.5 hours from the jump-off point to the campsite. Before we knew it, we were already halfway Mt. Tagapo marked by the huge sampaloc tree. Towards the campsite it gets more steep, like you are on a permanent lunging position. Our guides created walking sticks from fallen bamboo to assist us.
Mt. Tagapo

Setting up Camp

By the end of the more grueling uphill climb, we were rewarded by the sight of the “hill to the summit” of Mt. Tagapo — characterized by wild grass and zigzag tracks to the top against the blue afternoon sky.

At campsite, we had time to catch our breath and set up our tents for the overnight hike. My first overnight hike in fact. Not to mention, we also had a preliminary view at the top of Mt. Tagapo overlooking the fishing areas of Laguna de Bay.

Mt. Tagapo

Some people (like me haha) could not bear to miss out the sunset at the summit. After settling down and while others are cooking liempo and rice, we climbed up the peak. It was totally worth it, as you can see the thousands of hues exploding around the setting sun.

At the top of Mt. Tagapo, you can supposedly get a glimpse of four mountains — Mt. Sembrano, Mt. Makiling, Mt. Arayat and Mt. Maculot. At night, the Makati and Ortigas skylines that glistens from below. It was like a mini-Tagaytay if you ask me. I only wished I camped right up at the summit!

Mt. Tagapo

Be back before the sun sets

Twilight at the Mountain

Before dark, we have made the 10-minute descent to the campsite. The sun set beneath the clouds creating a glorious sight just before it dimmed.

By twilight, everybody got busy cooking dinner, which is one of the more fun activity. For some reason, food cooked in the mountains tasted better even if we didn’t have fancy amenities to enjoy them. Never tasted liempo this good, until Mt. Tagapo!

Mt. Tagapo

Beneath the trees and beside embers of what’s left of the bonfire, we enjoyed quiet company, the gazillion stars overhead and the buzzing sounds of cicadas. We helped ourselves into the tents to get some sleep, but not after horror legends because of the name “Tagapo”. Apparently, Mt. Tagapo was named as such because of the bamboo industry in Talim Island which entails chopping (“taga”) it off.

Mt. Tagapo

Sunrise at the Summit

Come sunrise, we began our second ascent to Mt. Tagapo summit, 438 meters above sea level. It was even more beautiful in the morning.

One of the reasons why I loved this Mt. Tagapo climb is that I was with my high school friends Lyka and Neil, as well as new friends from the Mt. Manalmon climb, Ferds and Lyn. Come to think of it, I spent the first and last day of May 2014 on a mountain.

Mt. Tagapo

Exploring Brgy. Janosa

At campsite, we cooked breakfast and packed up our tents to begin our descent. Going down Mt. Tagapo is relatively faster because of the easier downward slope.

At our jumpoff point, we had some time to explore Brgy. Janosa because the pumpboats were filled early (one of the adjustments of a trip to Talim Island). The locals are very welcoming of mountaineers and even offered up their deep well for us to wash up in. I also think the local government is doing a great job in opening up the island to travelers especially with the wonder like Mt. Tagapo.

Mt. Tagapo

Chase the sun. Be back before it sets.

Balaw-Balaw Sidetrip

Mt. Tagapo is an ideal climb for beginners because of its nearness to Manila and the novelty of riding pumpboats and seeing Laguna de Bay from a vantage point of a blade-shaped island. Because we are clingy and we are already in Rizal, we took a sidetrip for lunch to one of the more iconic restaurants in Angono.

We stopped by Balaw-Balaw to try local and exotic food because we have some foreigners in the group. We settled for a bilao of seafood goodness. Balaw-balaw has an art gallery in the upstairs, filled with paintings, wood carvings and creepy images which adds to the beauty and mystery of the place.


Really enjoyed Talim Island, Mt. Tagapo and Balaw-Balaw thanks to these wonderful people. More climbs, more friends, more sights. Thank you Travel Compass PH!


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  • Reply
    September 13, 2015 at 11:50 AM

    Beautiful photos. I only heard of Talim island through a priest friend who was assigned there several years ago. I love your sunset shots. Been to Balaw Balaw too and my eyes feasted on the paintings and wood carvings displayed there. I am from Cainta so this is quite near to us.

  • Reply
    Peachy A.
    August 16, 2014 at 12:18 AM

    Excellent sunrise and sunset photos!!!

  • Reply
    Patty | MrsC
    August 2, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    I love your photos that show the sky against the mountains. The colors are so vibrant!

  • Reply
    Que Sullano - Gavan
    July 24, 2014 at 5:44 PM

    Another mountain with a great sunset view!

  • Reply
    July 19, 2014 at 2:24 AM

    I suddenly missed Balaw-balaw. I love challenging my self to some of their weird dishes on their menu.

  • Reply
    Mr. Jacob's Mom (@MrJacobsMom)
    July 17, 2014 at 2:23 AM

    As always, love your travel stories! 🙂

  • Reply
    Janice / The Roller Coaster Ride
    July 16, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    Those sunset photos are amazing! I love sunsets. 🙂 And that seafood dish looks to die for too.

  • Reply
    Kim Reyes
    July 15, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    I’m from Rizal but I had no idea there is such a place like this until I read your post. Haha! I will definitely tell the hubby about this for our next family adventure. 🙂

  • Reply
    Michelle Solee (@michisolee)
    July 14, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    I notice that you really like climbing and hiking a lot. Good for your body. 🙂

  • Reply
    Ode to Trailblazers — A New Sense of Respect from Mountain Climbing | GREENSPIRED
    July 10, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    […] ← Mt. Tagapo — Talim Island’s Watch Tower over Laguna de Bay […]

  • Reply
    Erika of HappyNest
    July 7, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    The place looks awesome! I would love to go there sometime. Nice photos 😉

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      July 9, 2014 at 9:50 AM

      Glad I somehow did justice to the beauty of the place. Although, it’s best to see them with your own eyes 🙂

  • Reply
    July 7, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    This looks like a pretty intense climb. The boat ride going there is not exactly comfortable too. But that sunset picture is worth the difficulty.

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      July 9, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      Sometimes there is thrill in being uncomfortable. Strange enough. It’s part of the rewarding feeling when you get to the summit 🙂

  • Reply
    Eileen Serapio
    July 7, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    Reading your post just woken up my frustrations of traveling! LOL I wish I can visit the places you’ve been writing about. Will definitely add them on my bucket list!

  • Reply
    July 7, 2014 at 5:26 AM

    It’s so cool that Makati and Ortigas Skyline can be seen from Mt Tagapo.

  • Reply
    July 6, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    The view was really great especially the sunset view

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      July 9, 2014 at 9:47 AM

      The sunset and sunrise are the best! But also is sleeping underneath the stars 🙂

  • Reply
    Yippee Daniel
    July 5, 2014 at 4:11 AM

    Is like you love mountains so much.. Nice view.

  • Reply
    July 5, 2014 at 3:55 AM

    And yet another mountain. How often do you go to the mountains?

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      July 9, 2014 at 9:34 AM

      About once every two weeks 🙂 I thought I would stop by May, but I got on a roll all the more in June 🙂

  • Reply
    July 4, 2014 at 11:20 PM

    It’s interesting to find bamboo there. The climb looks tiring but fun especially when with friends. 🙂

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      July 9, 2014 at 9:32 AM

      The climb was tiring especially with the sun beating down our backs! 🙂

  • Reply
    Peachy A.
    July 4, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    It is so worth the climb and the hike!

  • Reply
    FX777 Classified Articles
    July 4, 2014 at 6:48 AM

    Glad you enjoyed this trip and discovered the place with vibrant mood. Traveling with a group made the trip enjoyable.

    • Reply
      Samantha Isabel
      July 9, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      I agree. Sometimes a climb is as good as the company you keep 🙂

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