The mountain dictates, it allows, it hinders, it humbles.
It can be kind, it can be cruel.
It can prolong the agony or it can make each step light and easy.
The mountain is alive and no matter how low or high – it should be respected.
This is what Mt. Victoria… taught me.
Conquering Mt. Victoria
Mt. Victoria, the second highest mountain in Palawan and one of the “Last Frontiers of Philippine Mountaineering” is located at Narra, Palawan – a municipality south of Puerto Princesa City endowed with rivers, lagoons and astonishing waterfalls, vast plains and awe-inspiring mountains. It is 1,726 MaSL mountain with 5 camps sites, 15 river crossings and has difficulty level of 7/9 according to the Pinoy Mountaineer himself. It is a part of Mount Beaufort Ultramafics Geological Region and the home to the carnivorous pitcher plant (Nepehenthes attenboroughii). The trail head is located at Sitio Mariwara, Brgy. Princess Urduja and can be reached via rented vehicle (rent here), 2 hours and 30minutes south of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. Our team, composed of Magbabagtik Mountaineers, Wild Expeditions Palawan, ISLA and Conde outdoors – experienced a slightly fierce and a little bit stormy Mt. Victoria.
Our 3-day originally planned reverse hike to the peak of Mt. Victoria began with an easy trek at the sparsely vegetated plain of Mariwara towards the Buhawi River. Just minutes after crossing a small brook, we were welcomed by the reason of why the river was named Buhawi. The waters are in turmoil, it whirls against slippery rocks dotting the trail.
Our orientation, coupled by steady hands of our guide and fellow hikers, several cascades of unnamed water falls, slippery rocks above raging waters, a sleepy Palawan pit viper and small wiggly leeches, made our 4-hour river crossing heart pounding, astonishing yet safe.
The team is aiming for the high camp, the last of the five established camp in Mt. Victoria 2 hours away from summit. But crossing the river just after days of rain get the most of our strengths. We pushed ourselves up and decided to spend our evening in Camp Seminar where a spin of the gushing wind brought by the developing storm filled our night. Morning came and we ascended the water source-less, draining “Sorry Pare” trail. We threaded through one of Palawan’s best and thrilling terrestrial experience, past unique insects, colorful wild flowers, imposing greeneries and indescribable trail. We reached camp “Playground”, took a quick break and regrouped. We then hike up “high camp” and reached it midafternoon and just when we were setting up our tents and hammocks, rain came pouring mercilessly and the temperature dropped down to almost 6 degrees – the elevation, coupled with the drenching rain and the team’s grueling first two days made that yet another stormy night unforgettable, cold and calming.
By eight in the morning of our third day, with the storm still looming over the mountains, the team headed to the summit silently. Two hours of assault through slippery rocks, beautiful begonias, vibrant orchids, unusually large pitcher plants and friendly looking mushrooms brought us to the gusty, foggy, mysteriously humbling peak of Mt. Victoria.
|Day 0||1400 to 1600 Hrs||Travel from Puerto Princesa City to Sto. Mariwara, Princess Urduja, Narra, Palawan|
|1700 Hrs||Camp at trail head|
|Day 1||600 to 1600 Hrs||River crossing and hike up to “Play Ground” via “Sorry Pare”|
|Day 2||600 to 700 hrs||Hike to “high camp”|
|800 to 1400 Hrs||Hike to summit and go back to “high camp”|
|Day 3||700 to 1400 Hrs||Hike down to the “pine tree clearing”, and camp near the river for the night|
|Day 4||700 to 1000 Hrs||River crossing and hike back to trail head|
|1000 to 1300||Travel to Puerto Princesa City|
What to wear and what to bring?
|Shelter, Food and Hydration||Clothes, safety and security, and other stuff|
|– Tent or hammock, insulator, tarp, thermal blankets, sleeping bag
– Trail food (nuts, berries, raisins, chocolates)
– Daily meal rich in carbohydrates, protein and fiber (this should be properly planned and divided among the cook groups – usually carried by assistant guides and should include emergency ration)
– water bottle or hydro bag
– cook sets and butanes
|– Thermal jacket, bonnet, several sets of socks, 3 to 4 sets of clothes packed separately for easy access
– Sunblock, first aid kit, meds and insect repellant
– Camera, power bank, charging cord, hiking shoes and slippers
– 50 to 60 L hiking bag with rain cover – water proofed and assault bag
– Ropes, para cords, knife, whistle, matches, compass, carabiners, gloves, head lamps and lanterns
Notes and reminders
- Registration in Narra Tourism Office and Princess Urduja Barangay Hall is needed
- Please Leave No Trace
- There is a network signal in “high camp”
- Pack properly
- Rattan and leeches (limatik) dot the trails
- Safety first at all times
- Water source is available at high camp
- If you are interested, you can contact Mr. Rommel Cruz of the Wild Expeditions Palawan or the Magbabagtik Mountaineers thru Mr. Peter John Cacayan (they’re on facebook)
- Do it yourself budget – PH.P 1,500 to 2,000