Saturday, 13 December 2014

Mount Isarog and the Panicuason Trail.

The Panicuason Trail is one of the best chosen path to reach the summit of Mt. Isarog. Your climb will start at the Girl's Scouts ground in Naga City. I consider this a "warm up"  hike to Mount Isarog National Park. Then you have the choice of cooling down first in Malabsay Falls or Nabuntulan Falls before heading off to your camps and reach for the western summit of the mountain, popularly called as "Bintana" or window in English.

Mount Isarog National Park was declared as a national park since 1938, Mt. Isarog, an inactive volcano, rises in the heart of the province of Camarines Sur, the. — “Mt. Isarog National Park, Bicol - Worldsaurus, the local”
"Patag-patag" is the name of the other chosen trail that leads you to the easterly side of Mt. Isarog. The English language equivalent of "Patag-patag" is flat. But don't be mistaken, the name doesn't mean that the trail is flat rather it is a misnomer. If you compare it to Panicuason trail it is more densely covered by forest trees and plants. 

"Patag-patag" trail begins in Tigaon, Partido, Camarines Sur in Consocep Mountain Resort. More than 1 hour drive from Naga City business centre or "CENTRO". Also, one should keep in mind that taking this trail you might come across of the presence of blood leeches mostly during rainy seasons. They are called LIMATOK in the local dialect of Bikolnon. For beginners to encounter this kind of blood sucking parasites can be discouraging and horrific. Well, don't be surprised because it is not only in Mt. Isarog, you will find this kind of species in most rain forest mountains of  the Philippines (Spanish Malaya).

The ancient culture of India who worship a god called Dhanvantari, a Hindu god believed to be an avatar of Vishnu practiced leech therapy for thousand of years to eliminate toxins from the bloodstream. However, Christian civilizations in Europe who are pioneers of modern medical science have discovered that such practice is not good and can lead to  Infection, Anemia, Allergic reactions and the risk of leech migration from the treatment area, possibly into body orifices or deeper into the wound itself. They may enter the ear, nose, mouth or perineum and attach to the tissues.

So what is the best thing to do if you are going to pass by a leech infested area? Well, my advice is to use protection and one should wear a bug proof Leech Socks, "they stop leeches from getting into your socks and crawling up your trouser legs - a most unpleasant experience and one to be avoided if at all possible."1 Leech repellent can also be used. "Most insect repellents work quite well with leeches but the most effective are probably the ones containing DEET or Citriodiol. You may find though that you need to reapply it more frequently than you would for flying insects - particularly if it's hot and humid and you're walking through undergrowth that tends to rub it off."2

Permethrin Clothing Treatment for Leeches
Permethrin is an insecticide that kills leeches and most insects on contact and hence it's ideal for treating clothing in leech infested areas. It can also be used to treat tents and mosquito nets to improve their effectiveness.3

Protective Clothing
Anything bare is a target for bugs, so you should keep your skin covered. Maybe you can make some shoes out of bark to protect your feet. The perfect outfit to wear in the jungle is a long sleeve shirt, long pants, a netted hat, knee- high socks, and protective shoes. If you want, you can also wear PUTEES. Putees protect the lower part of your leg from leeches and ticks. Long sleeve shirts, long pants, a netted hat, knee- high socks, and protective shoes are all protective types of gear because they are all protecting you from bugs in the jungle.4

PUTEES: Long pieces of cloth that are wounded around the legs.
Above is a picture of step by step guide how to put on PUTEES.

How to wrap puttees, with crossing turns.

I hope you will have a great time in Mt. Isarog and enjoy the view over there. Happy backpacking!

For more detailed info about Mt. Isarog PLS CLICK HERE ( This is year 2000 post but I hope you will find it useful in acquiring information about your trip to Mt. Isarog.) Click HERE and learn how to remove a leech. Also HERE is Climb Guide : Limatik 101. :)


Monday, 8 December 2014

Malabsay Falls, Mt. Isarog, Panicuason, Naga City, Malaya (Philippines).

Malabsay Falls is just one of many beautiful water falls in Mt. Isarog. If you are brave enough and has a good experience in mountain climbing, I suggest that you can go and explore the thick rain forest of Mt. Isarog then find the other water falls and enjoy the beauty of nature. Make sure you have a local guide who can help you find the way to the other water falls because there are slippery paths and clefts on your way. 

The best route to go to Malabsay Falls is the Panicuason trail. Although there are other routes and trails the most advisable and safe road is the Carolina to Panicuason way because it is the main road that will lead you to the Girl's Scouts camping ground that also serves as a paid car park. Then you have approximately 30 minutes hike to Mt. Isarog National Park. From there on you have to follow the trail downwards to Malabsay Falls which is only about 15 minutes walk. 

For persons who are going to visit Malabsay Falls for only a short period of time, the best option I recommend is to rent an ATV from Crossroad petrol station (Shell), Magsaysay Avenue, which is about 22 quid or USD34 or 1500 Philippine Pesos for 4 hours. (Please take note this was the rate in mid summer of 2013 and I am not certain if the ATV rental is still going on at this time I'm writing this).

What to expect in the vicinity of Malabsay Falls? First of all I would like to inform you that the place is not properly developed for tourism. There is no cozy restaurant or bar neither a souvenir shop or a bed and breakfast nearby. The truth is that the park has been somewhat neglected by the Philippine government. The national park above hasn't got the right facilities for tourists specifically for campers and hikers. There is also limited space to camp down  around the area of Malabsay falls. The last time I was there I find no adequate place for backpackers to stay overnight because the cottages there have been abandoned after they were destroyed by several typhoons who came to the region of Bikol. I believe until this year 2014 the place is still the same. 

However, if you are indeed a typical mountaineer, a camper who is used to the wild and rough surrounding of tropical forests, the place is just right for you. You can choose where you can pitch your tent and build your camp fire but make sure you ask permission from the park rangers and authorities. If you are a foreigner and coming from outside Naga City it is advisable that you first go to DENR Forestry for further legal information and guidance about your climb.

Don't forget there are also mosquitos and other bugs too, so make sure yourself is protected from insect bites as you go to sleep. Enjoy the refreshing water of Malabsay, the sounds of crickets in the evening and the warm sunshine of Malaya. Happy backpacking!

Click HERE and HERE to read more about the experience of others in Mt. Isarog.


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