Mt. Pico de Loro (Mt. Palay-Palay)

Mt. Pico de Loro also known as Mt. Palay-Palay is one of the most notable mountains in Cavite, Philippines and is very popular for hikers and climbers.  Its name means "Beak of a Parrot", an imaged created when the summit and the monolith is photographed perfectly.

An inactive and ancient volcano that has an elevation of 2,178ft (664m) above sea level. It features a 60-meter monolith or natural rock formation that mountaineers are longing and wanting to climb.  If you really want an extreme adventure, you must climb this monolith.
Start of the trail
It's just a spur of a moment for us to climb this mountain. My friend received a package offer of Php1,900.00 for a day climb to this mountain, but I told them it's best for us to do it ourselves. That way, we can save on money and most of all we can manage our time and see other attractions along the way if we want to. 

The Trail (Ascending)
One of the signs written on a cardboard
I've had a 5-hour cave connections in Sagada and also climb Mt. Pinatubo for 2 and a half hours so I thought this one is just easy-peasy since it's only a 3-hour trek. 
 
We left Manila at 5:00am in the morning and arrived at the DENR registration area at exactly 7:04am. There are a lot of people getting ready for  the trek when we arrived. There's no signage as to where you can register, but you can always ask one of the vendors.
Trail with other hikers
Roots of the trees on the path
Before starting to climb, make sure you have enough snack and water because the next store is not until you reach the mountain. No toilet/restroom along the way so make sure you use one before you leave. 
If you want to have a tour guide, you can hire one for Php1,500.00.  We didn't get one though, since there are a lot of hikers we can follow and there's only one trail anyway. 
 
This trail is actually new, they closed the trail that was used before. No official signage along the way, but there are cardboard with direction and red ribbons tied on the trees to show you are in the right direction.
 
 
The trail is not very easy and not advisable for people who have weak knees or faint-hearted people. What's perfect is the weather. It's not hot because of the trees and the cool wind blowing.
View of the summit
 
I can't remember how many stops we've made to rest, but I know it's a lot. We were passed by the other hikers, but since they stop too, we also passed them. it's like a cycle, though you have to stay on the side so they can pass.  
The trail when we're almost there is narrow, only one person can pass so if the person in front stopped, you don't have a choice but wait until they start to move again.  
The mountain's view point
 
We arrived at the campsite after 2 hours and 7 minutes, faster than the mentioned 3 hours.  I'm tired but but didn't waste time and went directly to the viewing point, it's all worth it!
Summit on the background
I took a lot pictures from every angle, because I don't know if I can come back here and I don't want to waste the opportunity.  And since where there already, we decided on climbing the Summit and the Monolith.  

The Summit
After taking pictures, it's time to climb the summit! I saw saw two teenagers and asked them how to get to the summit, not knowing they are the tour guide. They showed us the way and ended up being our tour guide. 
Trail going to the summit
 
Climbing the summit is scarier than I thought.  It's kind of "climbing at your own risk"! At the start of the climb there are trees and roots you can use to help you climb, but halfway, there's nothing you can use to hold on to.
The path going to the summit
You have to crawl in order to reach the top. I was ahead of them and never tried, even once, to look back or look down. One misstep and you'll end up falling 664-meter above sea level. 
View from the summit
View of monolith from the summit
The effort is all worth it when I reached the top.  The view is spectacular and amazing. I had to turn 380 degrees to make sure I don't miss anything.  It's a little overcrowded, but the we find the perfect spot. 
When you are at the summit, you have to be extra careful because the wind is strong.  Also, watch where you go because yo u don't know if it's safe or not.

The Monolith
When we are still talking about the climb, my friend asked me if I want to climb the monolith, and I proudly said, "Yes, I'll climb it! I'm there anyway so I'd rather climb than regret not climbing it!"  But when I first saw the rock from the summit, I was like, "Oh no! I don't think I can climb it!"
I saw a couple of people at the top and I wondered how they get there. I was thinking that they have to climbed the almost flat surface in order to get there and I don't think I really can do it.
The path going to monolith from the summit
We stared for it for a while, no one spoke.  Then I told them we can check heck it out first to see if we can climb it. We adults start ascending the summit to get to the monolith. The 2 kids didn't want to climb so they stayed at the summit and we asked them to take pictures of us on top of the monolith.
The trail going to the monolith is not easy either. You have to crawl again just to get down. There's a big rock at the end of the trail and a lot of I thought it's still part of the trail.
Path going to Monolith
Actually, a lot of people thought it's the path to the monolith, but it's just a perfect spot to have your pictures taken.  You have to go back  a little for the right way.
The only way going to where the start of the climb is located
 
When we arrived at the monolith, I found out that getting to the top is now as what I thought.  There's actually a narrow path on the side of the monolith that is easier to climb.  It's still scary, but still, a lot of people were there waiting for their turn.  We've waited for an hour just to have our turn.
I asked one of the guides how many people the monolith can accommodate and he said maximum of 50 people. Although it's not advisable for safety purposes. For safety purposes, they only allowed up to 20 people on top. The path is narrow so only one person can go up or down the monolith. 
Narrow path we need to climb to get to the top
While waiting for our turn, I saw how others are struggling on going up and down using just a plain rope and one harness. Regardless of the gender, it looked so hard that it made me so nervous.  I'm having cold feet but I don't want to regret not climbing.
Rocky path on the top of the monolith
Finally, it's my time to climb and I never believed how fast and easy it was for me.  I just focus on getting up and never look down or away from the rocks.  I wanted to get it over with so I can finally breath.  I never thought, the climb is scarier right after I climb using the ropes.
There's only a single rope you can hold on to before you climb the big rocks and after, no opes or harness.  You have to crawl and hold on to the rocks to get to the top.  But it's all worth it when you get to the top. The satisfaction you'll feel, proud that you able to climb it, it's priceless!
For a pro, this might be an easy climb but for an amateur like me, this was the biggest achievement I had for 2015. It me realized that I can conquer my fear of heights when I want to. And when you are struggling to get to the top, don't give up. Think of what you'll see when you reach the top.
We only stayed for for less than 15 minutes because it's really hot, and other people need to climb too. Getting down is more trickier than getting up, so please be extra careful. Pay attention and focus on where you are stepping and make sure you are holding a firm rock.

The Trail (Descending)
When were at the monolith and waiting for our turn to climb, I saw a trail below. Curiously, I asked the tour guide where it's heading and he said it's a traverse going to Nasugbu, Batangas.
Thinking about how we will struggle going down the summit, I asked my friends if they want to take this trail instead. The tour guide it's shorter than the original trail so they all agreed. We didn't anticipate that it's steeper and hard to trek than the other way.
This trail is probably shorter than the original one, but it feels longer because it's more steeper. We were the only ones traversing and now I know why. We've only meet with a couple of tour guides going to the mountain. And I asked all of them how far is it still, or if there's going to be a better path.
We had a lot of stops here to rest that when we're ascending.  And if I don't ask them to continue walking, they'll stay longer. I walk ahead of them to check the path, telling them if it's steeper or not. One of my friends and I were the first to arrive at the last stop after 2 hours and 6 minutes.
After 15 minutes, others arrived looking disheveled and tired. They take their turn washing and cleaning themselves. Had a short rest and then walk again. We were told it's only 10 minutes walk until we reach the tricycle terminal in Brgy. Papaya, Nasugbu, Batangas.
We reached the MSDC Security Force Training Ground, just before the terminal, and had another short rest. Took a couple of a couple of pictures and headed to the tricycle terminal. I was teased by one of the tour guides, who's also a tricycle driver, that we took too long.  Well, for us that's the fastest we can do! 
Helpful Tips: 
  • Hire a tour guide if you are planning on climbing the monolith. Each tour guide provides their own rope and harness.  If you don't have a guide, you won't be able to climb, unless otherwise, you have your own harness. Or you can climb without the ropes or the harness. 
  • Bring enough water and snack before you start the trail. No stores along the way so if you get hungry, you'll wait until you reach the campsite at the base of the mountain.
  • Make sure to use the restroom before you leave the drop off. No toilets along the way, but if you are brave enough, you can release it behind the trees :P
  • Bring a pack lunch if you don't want to spend on food. There are stores at the campsite but it's expensive because they have to bring everything from Nasugbo, Batangas. (I've meet one of the men who brings the items to the mountain and he's paid Php300.00 for that. Looking at the package he's carrying, I told to myself, if he can climb with that on his shoulder, then I can reach the final destination with no problem at all.) 
  • It's hot there, but you can't use umbrella because of the strong wind. And If you are planning on bringing a hat, fisherman's hat is the best or any hat with string. Otherwise, it be will be blown away by strong wind.
  • Registration Fee is Php25.00. Tour Guide Service Fee is Php1,500.00. We gave Php200.00 to our tour guide in climbing the Monolith.
Are you planning on conquering Mt. Pico de Loro?  Please click below guides that might help you.


Side Trip to Mahogany Market, Tagaytay
If you are taking the Nasugbu Route going back to Manila, spare a time to enjoy a delicious meal at Mahogany Market, Tagaytay. 
Bulalo - Php350.00 (Good for 2-3 persons)
Crispy Tawilis - Php650.00 (Good for 8 persons)
Try the crispy Tawilis and the deliciously-hot Bulalo. Juts don't order the Crispy Tawili that's good for 8 people because it's very expensive. Order the one for 2-3 persons.

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