Dalaguete, the Vegetable Basket and Summer Capital of Cebu, which lies 3 hours south off Cebu city is well-liked for being a key player in the sustenance of food supply in the province. Thanks to its strong vegetation and advanced method of farming. But that is only a lesser recognition for the municipality. At its hinterland sets up a stage for a pageantry of ruggedly beautiful mountain peaks which launched Dalaguete to greater heights of popularity among hikers and campers over the years. Reigning the prestige amongst this line-up of captivating summits are a trio of gigantic karsts formation of jagged hills, namely Osmeña, Casino and Candongao peak.
The mountain peaks which are a haven of leisurely fresh, cool breeze make a good vantage point for a scenery of great landscape that cascades with an immense gush of moss-green, sharp-looking hills.
To choose the most photogenic amongst the trio demands a long discourse of subjectivity. I’d rather that you would be the judge. Visit these peaks, which are neighboring to each other, by following the guide below:
Note: These peaks are walk-able but can become difficult for a beginner. You would have to scale through a trail of steep slopes and high elevation that would demand stamina and leg power. Check out more tips found at the bottom part to help you prepare.
The mountain peaks can be reached by trail and road. The former is preferred by hikers and mountaineers because of an imposing view of vegetation growing luxuriantly along its way while the latter is favored by most visitors for fast and easy access.
(The popular option) Go to South Bus terminal and take a bus bound to Oslob or Bato which cost for about P106. Travel time is 3 hours. Ask the driver to drop you off at the Dalaguete junction where you can find a 7/11 store and Julies bakeshop fronting each other.
From the junction, ask a motorcycle-for-hire (habal-habal for locals) to take you to the three mountain peaks. The trip will take half to entire day and would cost for P400 per person round trip. The motorcycle is only allowed to take 2 persons.
If you opt to visit one mountain peak only, the cost per person is P200 round trip.
(Bus trips are frequent as every 15 minutes between 5:00AM to 9:00PM and become less frequent 10:00PM onwards.)
The Mountain Peak Trio
Description: Osmeña peak is considerably the highest point of Cebu with an elevation of 1013 meters above sea level (MASL). The ascent to its summit is approximately 1.3 kilometers and would take for about 20 minutes in a continuous pace. The trail is a bit rocky but well-defined which makes trekking relatively easy that even a beginner would not necessarily have a guide. The peak which has a capacity of 30-40 visitors at a time offers a view of a fascinating vista composed of Badian Island, the Tañon strait, and farther, the province of Negros Oriental.
For safety, trekking to its summit is permitted until 6:00PM and camping is only allowed at the base. You can pitch your own tent or rent one at the registration area (which also has a comfort room) for P200.
Location: Mantalongon, Dalaguete
Entrance Fee: P30 for adults, children 12 and below are free. P50 per tent for overnight camping.
To get there: There are three hiking trails to the peak. One begins in Badian passing by Kawasan falls, another is from Dumanjug which alights in brgy. Liong and the other, which is the most popular, is at Mantalongon Public market in Dalaguete. The first two trails will take a multi-day hike, while the last can be covered in half day.
Lugsangan Casino Peak
Description: Casino peak (or now officially Lugsangan peak) is a distinct monolith among an expanse of jagged hills at the highland of Dalaguete, Cebu elevating for about 1003 meters above sea level. The peak is easily identifiable because of its fang-looking shape. The hike en route to its top which stretches for about a kilometer is walk-able but more rocky and steep compared to that of Osmeña peak. It will take for about 20 minutes to reach the summit in a nonstop pace. Once at the top, the peak overlooks a visual treat of dotted moss-green hills reminiscent of that of Bohol. Casino can only cater 20-25 visitors at a time and walking through its peak requires extra caution because of its narrow form.
As of January 2018, Casino peak is free of registration. However, discussion with tourism to include it in the natural attractions list in Dalaguete is going on so expect that a fee will soon be imposed.
Camping out is not permitted in the area.
Location: Sitio Lugsangan, Brgy. Tabon, Dalaguete, Cebu
Entrance Fee: none (as of January 2018)
To get there: A trail from Mantalongon public market or from Osmeña peak to Casino is well-defined and can be done in an hour hike preferably with the help of a guide.
Description: Candongao peak is another rock landform that has become popular among hikers and campers. It neighbors Osmeña and Casino peak for about a 30-minute motorcycle ride. Getting to its pinnacle starts with a 195-step, drawn out, concrete stairs which makes hike moderately easy half way. From there, the trail becomes rocky, and steep – even more difficult than that of the other two peaks. It will take for about an hour to reach the top where you will be met with a 360-degree view of the nearest islands of Cebu, namely Bohol and Negros. The peak provides access to another two less popular peaks: the lovers and sunset peak where camping is allowed.
On its way down is the small Candongao cave with a shy entrance allowing only one person to pass at a time. Exploration inside the cave is limited only up to a few steps where you can freely watch the beautiful rock formation that ornaments on its ceiling.
Location: Sitio Lugsangan, Brgy. Tabon, Dalaguete, Cebu
Entrance Fee: P30
Campsite Fee: P50 per tent (You may rent a tent at the registration area for P200)
To get there: Another trail to reach Candongao is through Badian which passes by Dalas-ag peak, another underrated mountain in Cebu.
At barangay Lahug, somewhere around on your way to Candongao peak are a strawberry and sunflower farm, and a mini-rice terraces. You may drop by and pay a visit. Just ask the motorcycle driver.
My actual expenses (1 person only):
|Round trip Bus Fare||Php212.00|
|Tour (3 mountain peaks)||Php400.00|
|Registration Fee (2 mountain peaks)||Php60.00|
|Guide Fee (for Candongao peak only)||Php150.00|
Tips for Travellers
Sunrise or Sunset?
All three peaks offer a scenic view during sunrise and sunset. However, during rainy season, sunrise can be difficult to capture as dense fogs are expected to blanket around the thickets of the hills. Sunset, on the other hand, can be observed all year round depending on the weather. For best experience, visit the peak during summer for a greater chance of seeing both sunrise and sunset.
Which mountain peak should you go first?
It depends. Osmeña peak is the nearest among the three, next is Casino and last is Candongao. If you are catching a sunrise, you would have to go to the nearest. On a different point of view, motorcycle drivers would opt to visit Candongao first since getting to other mountain peaks from there would be faster. Also, Candongao peak is the most difficult to trek and the most time consuming among the three.
Tips for Campers:
Bring portable stoves for cooking as bonfires are highly discouraged. Pack food, water and extra batteries for your flashlights. It gets really dark at the area.
- Check the weather forecast before going. A muddy and slippery trail on a rainy day can be dangerous.
- The trek can be exhausting. Bring at least 2 liters of water or pack energy-boosting beverages like Gatorade or Pocari Sweat.
- Have a good rest and eat before going on a trek.
- Prepare your muscles. Warm up before you ascent to avoid fatigue.
- Hire a guide as much as possible. It’s more safe, faster and is a way of paying back to the community.
- Summer is the best time to visit the peaks, but expect more travellers and campers in the area.
- Wear comfortable clothes and trekking shoes or sandals.
- Spat on a sunblock during day time and a mosquito repellent at night when camping.
- Get ready with your rain gear and waterproof your belongings on a rainy season or your sun visor or a cap on a dry season.
- Bring a towel or extra shirt if you sweat a lot.
- Tuck a couple of garbage bags in your backpack.
- Do note that mobile reception is intermittent on the peak, except in Candongao.
- Last bus trip to Cebu is 8PM. Be sure to be back at the town proper before the time if you are not planning to stay or camp overnight.
The outdoor ethics of LEAVE NO TRACE.
- Plan ahead and prepare.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
- Dispose of waste properly.
- Leave what you find.
- Minimize campfire impacts.
- Respect wildlife.
- Be considerate of other visitors.
Finally, enjoy the scene. Have a moment. Don’t just do it for instagram.