Top 10 Photo Shoot Worthy Sites When Mountaineering Outside Metro Manila

At this day and age, bringing a digital camera or a camera ready phone is already considered a travel essential. With social media dominating web traffic, it has been a habit for us to document our adventures via Facebook or Instagram with stunning photos and witty clever hashtags.

Mountaineering Outside Metro Manila
Mountaineering Outside Metro Manila

The Millennial traveler movement is booming for the past years and with easier access to information and the popularity of several local tourist destinations, the mountains near the busy city aren’t an exception.


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With this, I would like to share these amazing popular sites of mountains outside Manila. Most of it may not be the summit yet but I guarantee that you will want to visit (or revisit) these places to take photos, or just simply take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy the fresh air or cool waters.

Limestone Cliffs: Mt. Pamitinan

Mt Pamitinan
Mt Pamitinan

Location: Brgy. Wawa, Rodriguez, Rizal
Approx. distance from Manila: 1.5 – 2 hours
Difficulty: 3 over 9

The haven for rock climbers and outdoor enthusiasts, Mt Pamitinan and its twin mount Binacayan has been a go to destination because of its technical trails, caves, and the refreshing waters of Wawa river. It’s limestone cliffs are quite difficult to reach but is doable even for first time hikers. Just don’t forget to wear gloves since you will scramble your way to the photo worthy view points overlooking the River.

North Peak: Mt. Sembrano

Mt Sembrano
Mt Sembrano

Location: Pililla Rizal
Approx. distance from Manila: 3 hours
Difficulty: 3 over 9

Right after an hour of steep assault through rocky terrain is the grasslands of Mt. Sembrano. The first stop is North Peak where you can see the vastness of Laguna Lake, Talim Island, and Mt. Tagapo. The dense, foresty trail of Mt. Sembrano will be replaced by the open, grassy, hills.

On the opposite side is the rolling hills and grassy trails to the summit. North peak is an ideal resting spot, just don’t forget to reapply sunblock and protect your heads from the scorching heat!

Silyang Bato: Mt. Marami

Mt. Marami
Mt. Marami

Location: Ramirez, Cavite
Approx. distance from Manila: 2-3 hours
Difficulty: 3 over 9

Another beginner friendly hike is Mt. Marami, with long flat sections that takes about two hours to hike! It will then become a denser, and steeper trek going to the summit.

Silyang Bato offers a wide view of Batangas lake, Pico de Loro, and even Mt. Mariveles on the Horizon when skies are clear.

The rocky peak has a spot where you can literally sit by the edge of the cliff (with strict supervision of your guide) while your friend takes a photo on the other side of the rocky top.

Tarak Ridge: Mt. Mariveles

Mt. Mariveles
Mt. Mariveles

Location: Mariveles, Bataan
Approx. distance from Manila: 4-5 hours
Difficulty: 4 over 9

After an hour of scaling rocks, steep assault, and holding on to thick tree roots, you’ll reach Tarak Ridge in Mt. Mariveles. The cold, windy ridge overlooks the West Philippine Sea, Manila Bay, the island of Corregidor, and the Metro Manila Skyline.

This is one of the mountain’s sections where hikers look forward to aside from Papaya River. The steep edges are ideal for photo ops and the ridge is also an ideal camp site. Just make sure to bring a good quality tent since this part of Mt. Mariveles is known for its cold nights and strong winds.

The Rockies: Mt. Maculot

Mt. Maculot
Mt. Maculot

Location: Cuenca, Batangas
Approx. distance from Manila: 2 hours
Difficulty: 3 over 9

The stunning views of the whole of Taal lake makes the Rockies of Mt. Maculot a popular destination for hikers. The vast body of water in the background as you pose (safely) at the rock formations is a photo worthy composition to show your friends or even share on social media as a testament of you conquering the assault going to one of the mountain’s popular site.

Tip: If you are planning to go to Mt. Maculot, make sure to start the trek as early as possible. The popularity of the mountain made it too crowded especially during the weekends. The trail head going to the Rockies will be filled with hikers waiting for their turn to get their perfect shot especially in the afternoon.

Layong Bato: Mt. Talamitam

Mt. Talamitam
Mt. Talamitam

Location: Nasugbu, Batangas
Approx. distance from Manila: 2.5 hours
Difficulty: 3 over 9

After reaching the summit of Mt. Talamitam (or twin hike to Mt. Apayang), you can finally go down the mountain and rest your tired feet in the waters of Layong Bato.

The river is only 10 minutes away from the jumpoff and the rushing waters will make you relax as you wash up or take a dip.

The rocks are ideal resting spots. I even had a chance to take a nap for minutes when I last went there, and the other side of the river is an ideal section if you want to go for a deeper swim.

Summit Limestones: Mt. Daraitan

Mt. Daraitan
Mt. Daraitan

Location: Tanay, Rizal/Gen. Nakar, Quezon
Approx. distance from Manila: 3 hours
Difficulty: 4 over 9

Known for its picturesque vantage points and beautiful limestone formations, Mt. Daraitan boasts of its stunning views of the winding Daraitan River, Laguna lake, the neighboring mountains of the Southern Tagalog region such as Mt. Makiling and Mt. Tagapo, and the Sierra Madre mountain range. A picture perfect background!

You can go down via a different trail going to Tinipak river where you can take a dip. Just ask your guide if it is possible to swim beyond the shallow parts since the river’s current tends to get too intense!

Rolling Hills: Mt. Pulag (Ambangeg trail)

Mt. Pulag
Mt. Pulag

Location: Bokod, Benguet
Approx. distance from Manila: 9 hours
Difficulty: 3 over 9

The farthest among the list is Mt. Pulag. The highest peak of Luzon may be well-known for its majestic sea of clouds, but its rolling hills also provide spectacular views of its surroundings as you see more of the horizon being enveloped by clouds while you appreciate its beginner friendly slopes.

The trails are a comfort to every mountaineers’ tired feet and a pathway was also built which is ideal for a #mtpulag photo shoot.

Gungal Rock: Mt. Ulap

Mt. Ulap
Mt. Ulap

Location: Itogon, Benguet
Approx. distance from Manila: 7 hours
Difficulty: 3 over 9

Another popular destination in the North, Mt. Ulap is another easy hike for first timers and experienced hikers alike. With its several peaks that towers above the towns of Itogon and Ampucao, its rolling hills, cow-herded fields, and even a burial site makes Mt. Ulap one of the best mountains to climb in Benguet!

Gungal Rock is one of its fascinating features. The rock ledge is what hikers look forward to every time they traverse Mt. Ulap, and it is almost impossible for you to miss out on the opportunity of taking a photo as you do an epic pose on the cliff! Just ask your guide to assist you for safety purposes.

Mud Spring: Mt. Makiling (UP LB trail)

Mt. Makiling
Mt. Makiling

Location: Los Banos, Laguna
Approx. distance from Manila: 2.5 hours
Difficulty: 4 over 9

Known as one of the best mountains for nature tripping. Mt. Makiling is indeed abundant with exotic flora and fauna which extends to its summit. With the University of the Philippines’ protection, I can say that Mt. Makiling will continue to thrive with beautiful botanical gardens, gigantic trees, and different types of animals and birds. There are even recent sightings of the Raflessia flower, which is endemic to other countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia!

Mt. Makiling also has its fair share of breathtaking view points but one of its unique features among the list is the mountain’s mud spring! Being a dormant volcano, Mt. Makiling is surrounded by mud pots. Sulfuric acid breaks down the rocks in to clay to form a hot, boiling, and highly acidic spring of mud and sulfur.

The site is a fenced area with a “Do not enter” sign on it. You can take photos from the outside of the fence or just peer your camera lens through the mesh (but stay as far as possible) to get a clear shot.

Being blessed with beautiful places, we are quick to decide in taking several snapshots in these places that we sometimes forget about our safety. There are times when people do life-threatening poses such as hanging on the edge of a cliff which most of the time are discouraged by guides or by concerned friends.

I think the best thing to do is refrain from doing those daring shots and just keep it simple, you can even look away as you genuinely sit back, relax, and feed your senses as you marvel at our country’s stunning views while your friend takes several snapshots of you. (This is of course fine if there isn’t a long line of hikers waiting for their turn, lol.)

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