Tag Archives: trek

Summit to Mount Kinabalu (Day 1: Timpohon Gate to Base Camp)

Today is the day we have all been waiting for. We woke up early in the morning and the bus picked us up from our hotel to head to Kinabalu Park Headquarters. On our way there, we were briefed by the tour operator on the dos and don’ts before falling asleep. I thought to myself: I probably will not be sleeping for the next 36 hours. For this tour, we booked the 2D/1N package with Amazing Borneo.

As we reach the headquarters, we were met by dozens of other climbers from around the world. We were each given our packed lunch as well as the mandatory ID tag which you had to wear at all times. Mine was tagged 007 for this climb. Pretty neat!


Just before 10:00 am, we were already at the Timpohon Gate. This is it!


We were 9 in the group including the 2 guides who also acted as our porters.


Before the hike, we have been advised by our guides not to walk too fast. The walk will be long and the first day is just for reaching the base camp. There is also the danger of getting altitude sickness if our body does not acclimatize well.


We weren’t used to this kind of pace which is why we were reminded to walk slower after 30 minutes. The hikes we do locally are usually day trips and the mountains range from 500-700 meters only on the average.





As we passed each stop, you notice the shift in the terrain and vegetation. Likewise, the weather also becomes more unpredictable. We experienced hot and humid weather as well as the cold and some rain showers throughout the hike.



Before they re-opened the mountain, due to the earthquake last 2015, they already re-routed and fixed the trail routes.




The rest stops are quite convenient as they have toilets with running water in every stop. As a pre-cautionary measure, it is highly advised not to drink directly from the tap water. I suggest that you bring enough (at least 2 litres) until you reach base camp. Just to be sure, bring purification tablets or iodine solution in case you have to get from the tap.


As we got closer to the base camp, the weather was getting colder. I layered up as early as our lunch stop. To keep myself energized the whole trek, I brought a good mix of trail food. I had energy shots and sweets, biscuits and some chocolates.




With the occasional rest stops and photo ops, we did not notice that it was getting quite late already. Some of us reached base camp earlier while the others were 30-45 minutes behind. I was already exhausted and famished at this point when I managed to reach the base camp before 5 pm.


My first impression about the base camp was “not bad at all!“.  The rooms consist of 4 double deck beds and food was served buffet style. The only other time I had an overnight hiking experience was back in 2015 when we went to Mount Pulag. We camped out in tents for that one.





After dinner, everyone decided to freshen up and prepare for next morning’s hike. Our call time was at 1:30 am which was only in a few hours. Before retiring, I went outside to do some astrophotography. The cold got the best of me and the area where I placed my tripod setup was not that stable. Oh well! Better luck next time for me. This was officially my second try on site with this type of photography. The first being in Sagada.




Tomorrow is the big day!

Summit to Mount Kinabalu (Day 2: Base Camp to Low’s Peak)

– The Tourist Pao


Trekking Mt. Pinatubo (Philippines)

A week after I went to Mount Pulag, I decided to join the same group and head to Mount Pinatubo. After our gruesome 26 km total hike in Pulag, I thought to myself: “Pinatubo should be smooth sailing. No sweat…” . Well, it’s true for the most part of this trip.


Our trip starts at our meeting point in Metro Manila around 3 am. From there, we hit the road and headed to CapasTarlac. After our orientation with the travel organizer, we headed towards the entry point to Mount Pinatubo. It was already sunrise when we reached our final stop. From here, we would be riding 4x4s to reach the foot of the mountain.

(Mount Pinatubo is actually an active volcano. The indigenous people who live around the mountain were unaware that this was a volcano up until it erupted in 1991.)


The most tiresome part of the trip was the 4×4 ride. While some rode an open top 4×4 jeep, we were assigned to an enclosed one. Both have pros and cons. Riding the open top gives you more leeway in terms of space. You can also hold on to the roll cage or even stand up if you get too tired of sitting down (and of course the photo ops). On the downside, you are more prone to be exposed from the lahar. As for our enclosed ride, there wasn’t really any option to hold on to anything. There were no handlebars to cling on so the bumpy ride can really get messy. Did I also mention that the ride takes around 2-3 hours. Part of the experience for me!



As we were getting deeper, you can see the sudden shift in the landscape. Can you imagine something beautiful resulted from a vicious volcanic eruption? For some reason, it made me feel like I was in the Land Before Time minus the dinosaurs of course.


Along the way, you will see several local Aetas. The children are very friendly and enjoy being taken photos.




Once we reach the foot, it was now time to hike up the trail. Contrary to the old set-up, the most convenient trail to reach the crater only takes 15-30 minutes depending on your pace. There are longer trails which just meant that you get dropped off earlier and start walking from that point. I was initially expecting to hike between 1-2 hours per way so I was surprised that the trail was way shorter than I expected.



The trail is very easy and anyone should be able to manage it. As a tip, I suggest that you wear quick dry shoes as you will be passing by certain areas that has shallow running water. Also, refrain from wearing open shoes if you are prone to sunburn. Temperatures can get really hot in Pinatubo during the summer time.


Behold… The Mount Pinatubo crater…




You can also camp within the crater as I’ve seen some photos online. However, swimming has been prohibited already. For me, a day trip is already enough to enjoy what this place has to offer.



Before heading back, we decided to take a side trip to a nearby waterfall. I decided to take a plunge to refresh my body from the hot summer heat. The water is so cool and clear! You can ask your guide to bring you there as they’re probably familiar with the spot. It’s just a few minutes from the 4×4 drop off point before the short trek.


By the time our trip has officially ended, it was almost sundown. Our group then headed straight to Pampanga to grab some dinner before parting ways.


I would recommend everyone to head to Pinatubo if they want to be more adventurous with their travels. This is definitely a good starting point! It’s also just a stone’s throw away from the country’s capital.

– The Tourist Pao