A Ride to Boracay's Highest Mountain

Monday, July 29, 2013

Right after we registered in at the hotel and changed to a more comfortable clothing, we made up our mind on what would be the first attraction to visit in Boracay. I think we did stick to the plan as per our trip cookbook. Or maybe we did some minor changes somewhere I can't recall. First up, the highest place in Boracay, which is called Mt Luho.

There are 3 ways to get there from where we stayed. The hardest but healthier (and cheap too) option is to get there on foot. It's only about 3 kms walk but half of it is uphill climb with slope of between 15% to 20%. In contrary, the easiest method is to go by a tricycle. One could be easily stopped anywhere in the Station areas (Station 1 to 3) and the flat rate charge would always be Php 150, one way. Another way to get to Mt Luho is by hiring either a buggy car or ATV. The former can accommodate 2 people while ATV can only take 1 rider. This is where we had to cancel our original intention to ride up Mt Luho on either a buggy or two ATVs since we were quoted dearly (Php 2000) for a buggy and Php 1000 per ATV. To make it worse, these rates were only for an hour of excitement, which were ridiculously steep in my opinion. So, at last we didn't take this fun but expensive way to get to some parts of the island. Walk? No way. We went by the easiest this time, the tricycle.

So we flagged down one tricycle at Station 1. Upon agreeing with the fare (Php 150), we hopped onto the three-wheeled motorcycle. About the fare, it was almost impossible to use our negotiating skill here, if we have any, since all tricycle operators charged flat rates depending on the distance traveled and the road surface. However, Php 150 is the maximum charge for any destinations from the main beach areas (Station 1 to 3). Along the way to Mt Luho, there were two to three ATV and buggy centers scattered around the village area. Many other tourists were seen at those places, preparing themselves for an adventure, perhaps. Some of them were in their buggy cars but mostly others on the ATVs. We, on the other hand, on a low-torque, 150cc tricycle were slowly ascending some slopes up to Mt Luho. This Filipino version of light public transport was really not built for hill-climb or unpaved roads. En route to the viewpoint area, we were overtaken by groups of other tourists on those adventure vehicles. So, we got what we paid there, no complains about it.

The tricycle ride to Mt Luho took almost 15 minutes only but we couldn't wait to get off it. After moments of bumpy ride uphill, we reached at the foot of Mt Luho viewpoint. Our tricycle guy agreed to wait for 20 minutes down there while we both climbed up some stairs up to the viewpoint, as we wanted him to wait to take us to the next attraction on our list. Such arrangement benefited both sides, especially at Mt Luho since I saw no other tricycle in waiting or passing by the area because those operators know tourists are more keen on getting on ATVs rather than tricycles. This eliminates the possibility that we need to wait long to get a transport out of the area and the tricycle guy doesn't have to go back to the main beach empty.

The Mt Luho view deck area doesn't look so attractive when I first walked a few steps from the main entrance. Everything was made to look like the place is just a temporarily-built attraction. There's a small bamboo hut that serves as a ticketing booth and frankly, I was surprised to see Php 120 for the entrance fee which I didn't expect to pay. "It's better be something in here for this kind of price", I grumbled. We continued to walk up a few slopes and flight of stairs. There's a part of the walkway that includes a bamboo over-bridge.

We were a bit cautious when we walked on that thing as it squeaked a little when stepped on. Five minutes later, we were already standing on the viewing platform, which luckily was made of brick and steel. Since there was no other visitors on the top deck, we had an unobstructed 360-degree view of the beaches around Boracay Island, its surrounding azure of Sibuyan and Sulu seas and as far as the mountain ranges of Aklan in the south. Combined with an almost perfect weather for some outdoor activities, the view was simply magnificent. However, I was a little tired after a 24-hour long trip (and no proper breakfast) that somehow held me back from enjoying the beautiful landscape of the island.

While looking for compositions through my camera's viewfinder, I noticed the existence of another similar structure like the one we were on. "What the hell is that building?", I shouted while pointing to its direction. From where we stood, the second tower is located on a slightly higher ground. And that tower looked sturdier too with some small crowds on it. "Are we cheated? Is it the real Mt Luho viewpoint?", we looked at each other, clueless. I checked my wristwatch and urged wifey to hurry up as we were up there for almost 15 minutes already. On our way down, we met with a signage of perhaps another attraction in Mt Luho, the Zip-Line.

It's located up to 200 meters above sea level, on top of the highest peak of the mountain. For Php 700 per person, one can try this new kind of adventure in Boracay. Since we couldn't see any zip-line activities from there, I'm not sure it's still there by now. Our main question was answered once we got down to the ticketing counter. The tower that we saw from the top view deck is actually another viewpoint called the Ocean Tower Viewpoint and to get there, we will need to pay another Php 120. We turned down the offer and hopped onto our waiting tricycle for a short trip to the one of most beautiful sandy beaches in Boracay.

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