UPDATES AS OF JANUARY 25, 2017. Finally able to retrieve my original itinerary and contacts from my old laptop. Sharing with you guys:
- Kuya Tommy, original mountain guide contact – +639074737117. Since he was not able to guide us, he told us he’ll “secure another trusted guide” for our team. Turned out, we had Kuya Joniver. I wasn’t able to get Kuya J’s contact, maybe you can just message Kuya Tommy. 🙂
- Kuya Florante, original boatman contact – +639177391949.
- I tried my best to look for a copy of the Letter of Intent but really can’t find it. 😦 BTW, ours included the following details: name of participants and contact numbers, name of the guide and his contact number, hiking date and trail (if traverse to Nagsasa, include also the name of the boatman/contact number). Also include 1 contact person in case of an emergency.
UPDATE AS OF OCTOBER 6, 2016. Instead of cutting your trip, travel directly to Subic PNP. No need to hop off the bus in Olongapo and ride a jeep going to Subic PNP.
Three days, 7 individuals, 1 ultimate Holy Week adventure.
Rising at 1,100 masl, Zambales’ Mountain of Thunder is one of my toughest climb to date.
Day 1 | March 24 | Thursday
We headed to Olongapo from Victory Liner Cubao (PHP 212/pax). After long hours of bus ride, we reached Gapo terminal and had our late lunch first.
*It’s a must to notify PNP Subic Officials and Chieftain Juanito Balosbalos of Sitio Cawag about your plan of hiking Mt. Balingkilat. Also, it is required to submit a letter of intent to both parties.
We rode the blue jeepney (PHP19/pax) and asked the driver to drop us at Subic PNP. Upon reaching the station, we were greeted by the tricycle drivers Chieftain Juanito arranged to fetch and take us to the jump-off.
We submitted the 1st copy of our letter to PNP Subic and they took a photo of our group as part of their protocol. After securing PNP Subic’s requirements, we rode our tricycle service (PHP300/trike).
At the registration area (PHP60/pax reg. fee), we met Chieftain Juanito Balosbalos of Sitio Cawag and of course, our guide Kuya Joniver (as referred by my original contact, Sir Tom).
At the jump-off, we did some last-minute prep. And by 9:30 PM, we began our night trek.
Day 2 | March 25 | Friday
The ascend lasted for 5 hours. By 2:30 AM, with cool wind drying our soaking wet shirts, we set foot on the campsite. Adding another 15-minute trek, we summited and pitched at 1,100 masl.
Sunrise at Mt. Balingkilat welcomed us with its very own sea of clouds and chilling temperature.
By 8:30 AM, we decided to descend the foggy trail traversing to Nagsasa Cove. The 360° view is just breathtaking.
Sometime before lunch, we’re through with those steep rocky trails. Alongside this, we’re running out of water and energy. With the scorching sun beating the hell out of us, our guide took us to the last water source, a river 30-minute away from Nagsasa Cove itself.
You’ll notice how near you are to the beach when the trail becomes sandy.
The great thing about getting local guides? They know almost everyone. Kuya Joniver is da bomb. Since Pamimi Beach Resort was full (same contact from our Boatman), he took us to Sir Ed’s more “private” resort. I mean, we’re the only guest!
We paid PHP100/pax as our overnight fee and the rest was free! Other resorts will ask you to pay for additional fee for cottage usage etc. but with Sir Ed’s “private” homey resort, our PHP 100 was so sulit!
Day 3 | March 26 | Saturday
Nagsasa Cove is such a gem. Surrounded by mountains, fine sands, and calming waves.
Our boat arrived at 11 AM. All set to take us to Pundaquit.
From Pundaquit, we rode tricycle (PHP30/pax) bound to San Antonio market.
*Huge thanks to PNP San Antonio, Zambales officials for being so hospitable! We asked if we could use their bathroom to wash up, and they welcomed us without any hesitation! The story was, we spent almost an hour wandering around Pundaquit resorts looking for a place to wash up or just change clothes. Of course, we didn’t want to pay another full resort rate just to use the bathroom. And so, none accommodated us. We were running out of options when we thought of the police station. Turned out, it was a brilliant one.
Before heading back to Olongapo via bus (PHP50/pax), we had our late lunch first, anticipating the “Subic traffic.” Surviving Zambales to Olongapo traffic for 3+ hours was the real challenge!
Thank goodness Victory Olongapo is organized. We did not have any trouble securing our return ticket (PHP 212/pax).
Special concerns | Friendly tips
• Anticipate tall talahib along the trail
• Average 3L water is a must, but this still depends on your consumption
• There are limited water sources. First, along the trail going up. We had our dinner here during Day 1. Second, somewhere along the foot of Mt. Balingkilat on the traverse side. Last, the river where we had our lunch on the 2nd day.
• PLEASE be mindful of your contact/service from PNP Subic to Sitio Cawag. Tip: there are contacts who use the municipal van as service. Your PHP100/head will go straight into their deep pockets while using government vehicles. Instead, hire local trike drivers situated outside the police station or best ask Chieftain Juanito and he’ll gladly help you find a trike service.
• Secure your boat service before anything else! The only way to get out of Nagsasa Cove is to cross the wide sea. That’s if you don’t want to traverse Mt. Balingkilat again. So, book for your boatman super ahead of time. In our case, Chieftain Juanito, Sir Tom, and Sir Ed all extended their efforts to help us secure a ride.
• Mountain guides are strictly 1:7. Dayhike rate is PHP900 while the overnight/traverse rate is PHP1000. You have to provide for food and shelter for your guide.
• Chieftain Juanito Balosbalos – +639183271442
• PNP Subic – +639462368934
Check out more of Chamen’s travel photos on her IG: @catlichamen