(An air-breather trip, April 3, 2015)
(An air-breather trip, April 3, 2015)

There is definitely no dull and boring moments when you are with your friends.

Mt. Romelo is one of the best options for starting mountaineers because it is considered a minor climb, having an elevation of just 300 meters above sea level (MASL) and a difficulty level of 2/9 according to Pinoy Mountaineer. Mt. Romelo is part of the Sierra Madre mountain ranges with the major jump-off point in  Brgy. Macatad in Siniloan, Laguna.

Although there are a lot of assaults (very steep portions of the trail) going to the summit, I found the trail not really exhausting because of the thick vegetation cover along the trail which shaded us from the direct heat of the sun. However, since our group was really large (more than 10 members), it definitely took longer than it was supposed to be because most members of the group had their own photo-op moments and some other things. But since we were not really in a hurry, we just enjoyed and maximized the activities the natural park has to offer. We were also able to check other things that we may try next time we visit these wonderful portion of Sierra Madre. The activities we actually did and other things that we can try next time are as follows:

  • Camping, the Romelo way
the campsite near Buruwisan falls viewed from the top
the campsite near Buruwisan falls viewed from the top

The good thing about camping here in Mt. Romelo is the good source of water and the established campsite areas. Although it is not really advisable to use the water for food especially during peak-seasons (because of the possible contamination), you  can always take a dip and enjoy its refreshing effect especially during noon time. If you don’t have a tent with you, you need not to worry also. There are small cottages for rent in the main campsite near Buruwisan falls.

  • Climbing the rocks of Batya-Batya
a group of mean going down the rock formations of Batya-Batya
a group of men going down the rock formations of Batya-Batya

Going up and down the rocks of Batya-batya is something that everyone should try. Although at first, it really looks dangerous, in reality, it is not because there are so many branches and woody vines that you can hold on to. One thing to consider though, it could be very slippery especially during rainy days.

  • Hopping from one falls to another
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viewing the heights of Buruwisan falls
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people enjoying the cold waters of Sampaloc falls
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swimming in the pool of Diniwata falls
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viewing Batya-Batya from the top

If there is something that this natural park really takes pride on, it is the fact that it has many breathtaking falls, 7 to be exact, including Buruwisan Falls, Sampaloc Falls, Diniwata Falls, Batya-Batya, and three other falls which we were not able to explore. Each falls has its own beauty so visiting all of them is really a must if you just have enough time to spare.

  • Spelunking or exploring some caves near Buruwisan falls
a cave near Buruwisan falls
a cave near Buruwisan falls

This was something that we were not able to try. I also don’t know if these caves are something that you can actually explore, but according to some of the visitors, they will go inside and try exploring these caves. Maybe if you are interested in exploring the caves near Buruwisan Falls, you can inquire first at the registration area.

  • Rappelling the heights of Buruwisan falls
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trying the rappelling in Buruwisan

Another exciting activity that you can try here is rappelling. However, this is not a regular thing in the natural park (at least not yet) and is just actually an initiative of some of the hikers. When we did our trekking in Mt. Romelo, a mountaineering group offered this activity for all those who wanted to try it for free.

  • Savoring  the fresh fruits of the mountain
buying some fresh star-apples and coconut juice
buying some fresh star-apples and coconut juice

Just like other mountaineering trip, a treat of different fresh fruits is something that you should never miss. When we went there, we tried some kaymitos (star-apples) and some fresh buko (coconut) juice.

  • Take photos, a lot of them.
the master photographer in action
the master photographer in action
trying the silhouette photo using the natural effect of the sunset
trying the silhouette photo using the natural effect of the sunset

As the saying goes, “pic or it did not happen”, you should take a lot of pictures to preserve your memories of when you went to Mt. Romelo and explored its never ending wonders. It is something that you can look at and reminisce with and show to your family and friends.

Since most of our friends could not really spend the night at Mt. Romelo, we opted to leave just before the sunset, to ideally catch the jeepney going back to Sta. Cruz, Laguna. Although it was really really exhausting, at the end of the day, we just had smiles in all of our faces.

When we left, we took nothing but pictures, left nothing but memories.

For more photos of our hike in Mt. Romelo, pls go to Life Gallery.

Some additional notes:

  • The easiest season to hike Mt. Romelo is during summer because during rainy days, the trail gets really muddy which is really troublesome especially since there are portions of the trail which are almost 90 degrees angle. However, if you want to witness a higher volume of water in all the falls, then you should  go there during rainy season.
  • If you are planning to go on trekking this mountain during Lenten season, especially Good Friday, you have to take note that there is a huge procession of various statues of saints and flagellants that actually affect the traffic within the town proper of Famy. You really have to take note of this because if you have no private car, you have to commute from Famy to Sta. Cruz, Laguna. When we went home from our day hike, we needed to charter a jeepney to go back to Los Banos, Laguna. The payment is around Php 2000.
  • If you want to take home some fresh fruits from the natural park, it is always best to buy from those who are selling along the trail after the registration area and not along the national road. The price difference is actually big. For instance, we first bought  kaymitos (star-apples) from a lady selling along the trail for just around Php 1-2 depending on the size, but when I tried to buy along the national road, it costed around Php 30 per kilo or around Php 7 each.
Travel Guide*    
Route Mode of Transportation Estimated Travel Time
Olivarez Plaza** to Pagsawitan, Sta Cruz, Laguna Bus 40 minutes
Pagsawitan, Sta Cruz, Laguna to Famy  Jeepney (Siniloan Bound) 25 minutes
Famy to Brgy. Macatad (Jump-off point) Tricycle 15 minutes
Macatad (Jump-off point) to Registration Area Foot 15 minutes
Registration Area to Buriwisan Falls Foot 2 hours
Buruwisan Falls to Summit Foot 1 hour
*based on actual events    
**Los Banos, Laguna (College)    

 

Budget    
Transportation* 200  
Food (Inclusive of lunch, trail food and water) 200  
Registration Fee 50  
Guide ** 300  
*Additional around Php 100 if coming from Cubao
**Divided by the number of your group members  

 

Itinerary*
5:00-5:39 Travel from Olivarez Plaza (Los Banos, Laguna to Pagsawitan, Sta Cruz, Laguna)
6:22-6:40 Travel from Pagsawitan to Famy, Laguna
6:40-7:00 Stop Over to buy Food
7:00-7:10 Travel from Famy to Brgy Macatad (Jump-off to Mt. Romelo)
7:10-7:27 Short walk going to the registration area
7:27-7:58 Registration and short preparations
7:58-9:59 Trek going to Buruwisan Falls
9:59-11:05 trek going to the summit
11:05-11:20 Rest
11:20-12:00 Trek going to Sampaloc Falls
12:00-12:20 Lunch Break
12:20-4:00 Swimming
4:00-5:30 Descent
5:30-5:45 Travel from Brgy Macatad to Famy
5:50-7:00 Travel from Famy to Pagsawitan, Sta. Cruz
7:00-7:45 Travel from Pagsawitan to Los Banos, Laguna
*Actual Itinerary of the blogger’s group