Summary: This blog covers three of the most popular mountain peaks in South Cebu: Osmeña, Casino and Candongao, which are situated at a close distance from each other. Going around the mountain peaks can be done in one day, with an estimated budget of P1,100 which covers expenses for the tour, entrance fee and food . All needed details for each attraction are laid out in the post including operating hours, entrance fee, location and information on how to get there. The blog is intended for DIY budget travelers, either solo or traveling in group.
THE MOUNTAIN PEAKS AT A GLANCE
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 karst formation of jagged hills namely Osmeña peak, Casino peak and Candongao peak.
The mountain peaks of Dalaguete 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 among the trio demands a long discourse of subjectivity. I’d rather that you be the judge. Visit these peaks, which are neighboring to each other, by following the guide below:
Note: The three mountains in Dalaguete and Badian are walkable and do not necessarily need a tour guide. Although it can become difficult for a beginner since one would have to scale through a trail of steep slopes and high elevation that would demand stamina and leg power. Check out tips found at the bottom part to help you on your trek to Casino, Candongao and Osmeña peak.
GETTING AROUND THE MOUNTAIN PEAKS
The mountain peaks of Dalaguete and Badian 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 THREE MOUNTAIN PEAKS
- 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.
- Rating: 4/5
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 walkable 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.
- Rating: 4/5
- 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.
- Rating: 4/5
At barangay Lahug, somewhere around on your way to Candongao peak are strawberry and sunflower farm, and a mini-rice terraces. You may drop by and pay a visit. Just ask the motorcycle driver.
|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 TRAVELERS
When is the best time in the day to visit? 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.
More travel tips:
- 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.
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WHERE TO STAY IN SOUTH CEBU
Accommodations in South Cebu are walk-in ready. But, it is highly suggested to book your stay ahead of time. Below is a list of mid-range to luxury accommodations from the key areas around South Cebu.
- Moalboal Guesthouse Check rate and availability here
- Hostel Panagsama Check rate and availability here
- Archery-Asia Nipa Huts and Camping Check rate and availability here
- Islet View Pension House Check rate and availability here
- Melronz Inn Check rate and availability here
- GT Seaside Inn Check rate and availability here
- Robinland Vacation Home Check rate and availability here
- Matutinao Beach Resort Check rate and availability here
- La Playa Resort (Matutinao) Check rate and availability here
Like in any parts of the Philippines, the locals can speak English in South Cebu. However, here are some good phrases that might prove useful when you find yourself endearing with them.
English to Cebuano (the most prevalent language among the locals in South Cebu)
Thank you – Salamat
Good morning – Maayong buntag
Good afternoon – Maayong hapon
Good evening – Maayong gabii
How much is… – Pila ang…
Where is… – Asa ang…
MORE OF CEBU
- Cebu Budget Travel Guide
- Cebu City Heritage Walk Tour
- Top 30 Tourist Spots in Cebu
- Top 7 Waterfalls in South Cebu
- Layover Travel Guide for Mactan, Cebu
- Bantayan Island Budget Travel Guide
- Top Attractions in South Cebu
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