Hiking Trails: Mt. Hambubuyog Climb in Ginatilan, Cebu
Climbing mountains are always fun, especially when you aren’t sure what to expect. But, whether you are an experienced climber, just doing it for a hobby or are testing the waters, there’s always a danger when you overestimate your capabilities – or underestimate the mountain itself.
At just 820 MASL, you probably wouldn’t expect much out of Mt. Hambubuyog, located in Ginatilan, Cebu. In fact, the peak itself is home to the Divine Mercy Chapel and can easily be accessed by any mode of transportation – if you can dare ride on a bike, that is.
But, you know how climbing enthusiasts can be: the more difficult the trail, the better it becomes. Plus, it makes for better stories, too.
The climb to Mt. Hambubuyog starts off with a four-hour ride from the South Bus Terminal in Cebu City and costs around 120PHP each. There really is no ‘best’ time to start the journey as you will still end up exposed under the sun, with a majority of the trek being in open trails.
Our initial plans were to catch the bus before the sun rose, but my friends and I were just not morning people. We eventually arrived in the town of Ginatilan at 10:30AM and it had been quite clear what we were up against, with the sun shining brightly over our heads.
We had a semi-quick brunch and did some last minute supplies shopping at the local market. The start of the journey was now inevitable so we took a motorcycle ride to Inambakan Falls, which is the jump-off point, at 25PHP.
Should you decide to brave the trek to Mt. Hambubuyog, I suggest you make sure to take a long and refreshing dip at the falls. I swam with my rash guard on and decided not to take it off for the trek. We set out at 13:30 hours and it was not a comfortable walk.
A word of warning: there are not a lot of water sources along the Mt. Hambubuyog trail, so be sure you manage your water well – or you bring enough supply to last you until the end.
Or that was probably because we took the climb during one of the hottest months in the country and it had not been raining for weeks in the area.
The Mt. Hambubuyog trail is pretty straightforward and you do not even have to get a guide to do it – we didn’t. The road was not the friendliest, especially to the eyes, and the heat was almost unbearable.
You’d know you’re almost at the start of the hardest part when you get to a huge mango tree at the foot of the mountain. We took a long rest and had our fill of fresh coconut juice to get ready for what was ahead.
There is actually a longer and easier route from the foot of the mountain to the summit but, hey, #YOLO! My friends and my partner suggested we take the shortcut which we found out was also extremely steep and full of loose rocks. Not the best idea when you have acrophobia just waiting to materialize.
The climb to the top through what they called the Calvary Trail (for obvious reasons) was something that truly tested by limits and my willpower. There was another set of climbers on their way to the top and their sweepers were kind enough to accompany us and even help me with my load.
It had gotten dark and we were nowhere near the peak. The mountainside may have given us the most spectacular view of the sunset but it also punished me heavily. The ascent did not seem to stop and I could barely go more than five steps at a time. That moment, I wondered if a hobby in climbing was really something for me.
Everything else had been a blur for me. I remember walking like a zombie, not knowing how I was able to put one foot ahead of the other until we finally reached the campsite at around 21:00 hours, eight hours after we started. It was no laughing matter and we set up camp and cooked our food in the dark and in silence.
We slept like a rock that night.
Unfortunately, we also realized that the summit had turned into a dumpster area with garbage everywhere. Of course, someone didn’t seem to mind that. And the views were still spectacular.
We’ve climbed and camped since this one but I still couldn’t get over this killer trail. I probably won’t be visiting it anytime soon.
If you want a challenge, I suggest you try it out yourself. 😉