Mt. Balingkilat (Mountain of Thunder) — Travel Guide

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I’ve always wanted to climb Mt. Balingkilat and spend a night on its summit, so me and my friends went to experience this mountain.

Mt. Balingkilat is a well-known mountain for most hikers. Due to it’s proximity from Manila plus the view and experience it offers to its visitors, no wonder it is one of the most climbed mountains in Zambales.

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Background

The name Balingkilat is derived from the native Aeta language which means Mountain of Thunder. Mt. Balingkilat is located in the province of Zambales, which main jump off point is at Brgy. Cawag, Subic, Zambales. It stands at a towering height of 1,100+ meters above sea level. It is one of the most hiked mountains in Zambales and is popular to day hikers.


Preparation

Before you can go and hike Mt. Balingkilat, you need to let the Chieftain of Brgy. Cawag know that you are planning to hike the mountain. He will be the one who will assign your guide and transportation if you don’t have your own vehicle. He will also serves as your main local contact whom you can ask regarding the hike.

Once you’re done coordinating with the Chieftain, it is now time to prepared yourselves. If this will be your first major hike, it best if you will climb at least two minor mountains in order to prepare your body for a strenuous major hike.

On the day of your climb, you are required to drop by the Subic Fire Rescue — SPOSO, near the public market, to have you names registered and your photos taken. It is important that you’ve coordinated with the locals/chieftain of Brgy. Cawag because they’ll be getting the name of your guide too.


The Hike

When hiking Mt. Balingkilat, you’ll need to consider the time when you will start your hike, and the duration of the trek/climb from jump off point to the summit or camp site. In our case, we started at exactly 10AM, when the sun is bright and shining hot. We really don’t have other choice but to start at that time because we want to reach the campsite before dawn.

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The first part of the hike will just be a gradual trek going to the first and only water source, the Kawayanan area. It took us one and a half hour going to the first water source, and from here we took our lunch, drank as much water as we can, took a little rest, and then started the second part of the trek, a moderate to hard assault going to the summit. We we’re a little slow in this part, aside from it is an assault trek, the heat of the sun affected our speed because it is already 12PM.

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We trekked for almost 3 hours to reach the last section of the hike to summit. This last section is the most technical part of the trail, extra precautions is required as you will be scrambling through the edge with rocks and boulders with high steps. You might also do some face-the-walls in some parts of this section.

At around 6PM we reached the camp site, which is and open area 15 minutes from the summit. We’ve had a hard time setting up our tents because of the strong winds blowing from every direction. There’s little to no shade for setting up tents in the area.

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After setting up the tents, we started preparing our meal for the night, eat, and then rest for the night. I never had the chance to go out of the tent for star gazing because the wind is so strong and cold that I chose to just sleep inside my tent. But as per my friend who went out that night, the sky was clear and there are plenty of stars that night. Next time, I will be getting out of my tent regardless of the cold. 😛

We woke up at around 6AM, prepared our breakfast, cleaned our camp, and then proceed to the summit. From the summit, you’ll see a 360 view of the Zambales and the West Philippine Sea. You will also see the Talisayen Cove and near by islands. The sunrise view is also to die for, offering you the view of Subic during sunrise.

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At around 9AM, we started our trek back to the jump off point. We are bit faster this time since there will be less assault this time, but we are still careful getting down the technical sections of the trail. Same as day one, our trek back to summit is also hot as hell, with little water in our bottles, we pushed through fast going to the water source.

We reached the jump off point past 2PM, where two our friends are already resting, waiting for us. We also took a rest, washed up, and then bounce out back to Manila by 4PM.


Summit Camp Itinerary (Back Trail)

Day 1

02:30 AM — Meet up Victory Liner Cubao
03:00 AM — ETD to Subic, Zambales
06:30 AM — ETA to Subic, Zambales
07:00 AM — ETA to Subic Market, register at SPOSO, buy supplies.
08:30 AM — ETA Resettlement, Brgy. Cawag. JOP, final preparation
10:00 AM — Start trek
11:30 AM — You’ll be reaching the first and final water source, the Kawayanan
03:00 PM — Start of the final assault section
06:00 PM — Reach summit camp site, set camp, prepare dinner, rest
09:00 PM — Lights Out

Day 2

06:00 AM — Wake Up, prepare breakfast, break-camp
08:00 AM — Summit trek
09:30 AM — Start descent
12:30 NN — Arrive at the Kawayanan (Water Source)
02:30 PM — Arrive at the Jump-off-point, rest, wash, up
04:00 PM — Back to MNL
08:00 PM — ETA to MNL

Nagsasa Cove Camp Itinerary (Traverse)

Day 1

01:30 AM — Meet up Victory Liner Cubao
02:00 AM — ETD to Subic, Zambales
04:30 AM — ETA to Subic, Zambales
05:00 AM — ETA to Subic Market, register at SPOSO, buy supplies.
05:30 AM — ETA Resettlement, Brgy. Cawag. JOP, final preparation
06:00 AM — Start trek
07:30 AM — You’ll be reaching the first and final water source, the Kawayanan
11:00 AM — Start of the final assault section,
11:30 AM — Summit, Lunch, traverse to Nagsasa Cove
06:00 PM — Reach Nagsasa Cover, set camp, rest, prepare dinner
09:00 PM — Lights out

Day 2

06:00 AM — Wake Up, prepare breakfast, break-camp
07:00 AM — Beach bum
09:30 AM — Free Time/Island hopping
11:30 AM — Break camp, prepare to get to Pundaquit via chartered boat.
01:30 PM — Arrive to Pundaquit
04:00 PM — Back to MNL
08:00 PM — ETA to MNL

NOTE: This itinerary are estimated times only and some parts are based on our own experience. This itinerary might change depending on your meet up schedule, pacing, and acts of nature.


Breakdown of Expenses

Php 226/pax — Victory Liner Cubao to Olongapo (via San Fernando)
Php 285/pax — Victory Liner Cubao to Olongapo (via SCTEX)
Php 20/pax — Olongapo to Subic PNP/Market
Php 100/pax — Subic PNP/Market to Jump Off Point
Php 2,000/7 pax — Guide Fee
Php 60/pax — Registration Fee
Php 500/pax — Food allowance
Php 2,500/7 pax — Boat Fee

Safe budget for 7 people back trail: Php 2,000
Safe budget for 7 people traverse to Nagsasa Cover: Php 2,500


Important Contact Numbers

Sir Jimmy Ablong (Brgy. Cawag) — 0921 954 3215
Subic Fire Rescue — 0939 443 4776


Conclusion

Mt. Balingkilat is a great mountain for both experienced hikers and to those who are looking for a nice hiking challenge. Just be sure that you are prepared to conquer and enjoy hiking this mountain. Bring enough water that will suffice your needs the whole duration of your hike, at least 2L per person is advised. Everything your bring up to the mountain must also come down with you. leave no trash and trace.

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