“Let’s wander where the wifi is weak”

The mood changed from uncertainty to howls of excitement, once us city folks started cruising down the unpredictable bumpy roads on our own habal-habal, butt tightly clenched. It took us 40 minutes, and 9 rivers to get to Brgy. Laiban, and the adrenalin had most definitely kicked in.

Like most provincial towns, Brgy. Laiban is humble and the people are friendly. Locals happily pointed us towards where to register and the process was pretty straightforward. We literally just wrote our names on a log-book, signed a waiver, and paid an environmental fee. We were to pay our guide, Mark, a fixed fee, when we were done.

It was perfectly overcast when we began our hike. I had done some prior research, and knowing that we were a mixed group, made sure to tell Mark that we were only interested in doing half of the 6-hour trail, and then hit the waterfalls. I had read from other blogs that the hike was “easy”, but a fair warning, if you haven’t worked out in a while (and whom will not be named in my group,) make sure to book a masseuse when you get home! Those quads are going to be getting some work!

The trail starts with a steady then dramatic incline. It had rained the night before, so the soil was soft, making the trail more slippery than it would have been in the summer season. Walking sticks were incredibly handy during this hike.

We went on a leisurely pace, catching our breath when we needed to. The scenery was incredibly inviting! Green everywhere, expressive rock formations from the distance, and patches of bamboo forests that looked thoughtfully placed.

The weather started off nice, but threw some theatrical bouts of rain as we ascended towards Mt. Ludo and Mt. Ngasung Kabayo. The rain had started to get stronger so instead of climbing the horse shaped rocks, we backtracked and headed straight to Laiban’s 4 –tiered waterfalls.

Like a cake, we reached the top tier of the waterfall and had to work our way down to see the rest. Since the pressure of the water ran strong, Mark felt it was safest if we just swim by the last waterfall, before our way out.

Makeshift ropes were tied tightly on the trees to help us repel down each waterfall. Since we had visited during the wet season, the “steps” were well hidden by the gushing water, which can be understandingly intimidating for some! Mark was especially helpful in pointing out where each foot should go with each individual as we made our descent. Just trust the process, and go slow. You’ll make it! Also, from what I understand, you don’t really have much of a choice!

By the time we reached the waterfall, we realized that we had been walking for a good leisurely pace of 6 hours! Sandwiches and snacks were enjoyed, while I sat under the falls and enjoyed the therapeutic pressures of the water hitting my back. After about 40 minutes, we packed up and ended our hike. Friendly locals asked us how it had went, and we had nothing but praises. We were lucky that the weather was civil, but even more thankful that we had the entire mountain and waterfalls all to ourselves! Even though by the next day, your whole body, clenched butt and all, will ache, this is another gem absolutely worth discovering!

Ratings

  • Kid-Friendly: 2.5/5 The trek is an adventure from the beginning for those young and young at heart.  I’d recommend this for kids 10 and up and for those with good stamina and love the outdoors. The trek is long, although we made multiple stops along the way.
  • Dog-Friendly: 5/5 Totally!
  • Bathroom – Friendly: 0.5/5 There are no bathrooms – but there were nice locals who let us use theirs when we needed. We volunteererd to give them Php 5 – 20 for using their bathroom
  • Food-Friendly: 0/5 Bring your own food!
  • Difficulty Scale: 3.5/5 So the hike immediately starts with a gradual incline which is usual with all hikes, but the trail is long and there are hardly any trees that offer you shade. The waterfalls are amazing, but just a heads up that you’ll need to repel down waterfalls without a harness. Don’t worry, it looks intimidating on the beginning, but feels victorious once accomplished. Just watch your step and listen to your guide!

Expenses

Average Cost per Person for a group of 6: approx. Php 450

  • Habal-habal 1-way – Php 100/person
  • Environmental Fee – Php 100/head
  • Plant a Tree Fee – Php 10/head
  • Guide (1 Guide to 5 people) – Php 500, Php 100 for additional person

How to get there via Private Vehicle

Waze was correct 80% of the time. As we got closer, we had to start asking locals where Mt. Laiban was and given several different opinions.

Our Itinerary

6:00 am – Leave Fort and head towards Brgy. Mayag, Tanay (North Bound) , directions courtesy of Waze (You pass by Tanay Market…

7:00 – Took a 30 minute breakfast stop at Starbucks and bathroom break – because we’re fancy like that.

7:30 – Back on the road.

8:45 – Found Brgy. Mayag, asked locals how to get to Brgy. Laiban. We had a Starex so we though we could drive through, but we were told we weren’t going to make it. We each took a habal-habal instead at Php 100/per person/1 way. You will cross 9 rivers and take about 30-40 minutes to get there.

9:30 – Found the Brgy. Laiban, paid environmental fee of Php 100/per person and an optional Php 10/per person to plant a tree. We then met our guide Mark. Standard price for a guide is Php 500 per 5 people. We were 6 in total, so we paid Php 600. After all payments were made, the hike started.

11:30 – Hit the 4th station and started walking towards Mt. Ngasung Kabayo

12pm – Hit Mt. Ngasug Kabayo, back tracked to Station 4 to hit the waterfalls

12:30 pm – Hit top tier of Laiban Falls

3:30 – Made it to the end of the waterfall , netfilix and chill.

4:00 – Walked towards end of the trail

4:30 – Got back on thee habal-habals and were driven back to Brgy. Mayag

5:00 – headed home and went straight to Sweet Ecstasy for our reward!

Additional Tips

  • A lot of people categorized this as an easy hike, but as clarified by one of my fellow hikers, “easy” more for someone who regularly works out and is used to doing cardio. I suppose in the summer time, when the land is dry, it’s a lot easier to have traction and move around safely.
  • Yes, you can bring a dog, but make sure s/he is not afraid of the water, as you’ll be wading when you’re near the waterfalls. Also when repelling down the waterfalls, get ready to carry him/her.  .Our friend makes sure that Malibu (his dog), always has a life jacket on when we do our water hikes.
  • Kids can do this hike if they are also active. I’d say 9 and up. Lucas had to stop every now and then to get water and snack on sugar, but he did make it!
  • During the wet season, since it’s mostly overcast, you can start the hike at 9-ish, during the dry season, just keep in mind to bring a hat and slap on that sunblock
  • Tip your guide!

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