Beginner’s Guide to Mt. Tagapo

Located at Talim Island off the coast of Rizal and Laguna, Mt. Tagapo has no tourist joints in the area, let alone an inn or homestay. Perhaps that’s what draws visitors to this place—that there’s no traffic up and down the trail and the greenery isn’t eroded by thousands of weekly hikers (yet).

My panoramic view was slightly obstructed by overgrown cogon grass. But I still won't give it to selfie sticks.

Our panoramic view was slightly obstructed by overgrown cogon grass. No, I won’t give in to selfie sticks.

I climbed Mt. Tagapo, also known locally as Susong Dalaga (maiden’s breasts) last weekend with friends from Talim Island. I opted for the day hike instead of camping overnight at the peak.

It’s too bad the overgrowth of cogon grass limited our view from the peak.

1. How high is the mountain?

According to Trail Adventours, it stands at 438 m (1,437 ft.) above sea level.

View from the camp. See the narrow slope to the top?

2. Where is Mt. Tagapo located?

Barangay Janosa, Talim Island, which is about an hour’s boat ride from Binangonan, Rizal. The island is surrounded by Laguna Bay.

3. How do I get there and how long does it take?

If you’re taking a bus from EDSA Manila, you’ll arrive in Binangonan in less than two hours. Take a jeepney ride to Binangonan Port and from there, take a passenger ferry to Barangay Janosa. Ferry ride is about an hour. Boats come and go every hour and the fare is less than P100 per head.

In my case, my driver took me to Barangay Lingga Pretel in Calamba, Laguna. The boat ride to Talim Island took only 30-40 minutes because my friends hired a private boat. I explored other barangays in Talim Island on my first day. On day #2, we took a 20-minute boat ride to Barangay Janosa at 5:30 a.m.to start our ascend.

Barangay Lingga Pretel in Calamba, Laguna

The murky stream signaled that we’re almost back to base camp.

4. How much do I have to pay to climb?

There is a P20 registration fee at the base camp. You are required to get a guide for P300. Unlike more popular mountains like Mt. Pulag, there is no orientation seminar required in Mt. Tagapo, but please research on the basics of mountain climbing etiquette. Keep in mind the old adage, “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.”

Jump-off point: Brgy. Janosa, Talim Island

5. How long does it take to climb?

My level of hiking is intermediate, and it took us two hours to get to the camping site near the peak, another 15-20 minutes to climb to the main peak, and 1.5 hours to hike back down. Some climbers bring camping gear and spend the night. My group opted for just the morning hike.

Treading through tropical wilderness

6. Are there toilets?

There’s only one public restroom and shower area at the base camp, along with sari-sari stores (general goods). Once you start your ascend, find a bush if you need to do #1. If you want to do #2, dig your own hole and cover it up after.

The murky stream signaled that we’re almost back to base camp.



7. What should I wear/ bring?

I didn’t camp overnight, so I had only the basics. Click here to see what I wore and packed. For a guide to camping essentials, click here.

Camping ground

8. Is the hike safe and easy?

Mountaineers give Mt. Tagapo a difficulty rating of 2/10, it’s relatively easy. But like most hikes and mountaineering adventures, just watch where you’re going and trek carefully. It’s best to bring a hiking stick (or in my case, a bamboo stick). There’s always a risk of falling into a ditch, but that’s part of the adventure.

The hiking trail isn’t as flat and wide as other popular mountains, so you’ll have to tread through wild greenery and overgrown cogon grass (blady grass), especially when you’re near the peak. I wore a hooded windbreaker to keep the blades of six-feet cogon grass and tropical weeds from grazing my arms and face. I slipped a few times on the paths moistened by rain the day before. Guides are required to bring an itak (machete) to help keep the overgrowth from covering the hikers’ paths.

Our private boat ride

9. Are there fresh water sources in the mountain?

According to Pinoy Mountaineer, there is a fresh water source near the summit, but I didn’t see it. I spotted streams of murky water near the bottom of the mountain where kids were swimming. Just pack your own water bottle.

Kate was here.

10. What is the view like?

When looking at the peak from the camping ground, the scene was heavenly, which is always the best reward for mountaineers. There’s an abundance of wild cogon grass dancing with the wind, making the patches of off-white blend well with the shades of green. In the grassy slopes you will find a narrow trail that starts from the camping ground to the actual peak of Mt. Tagapo, making you realize that the challenge isn’t over yet.

Almost there, but not quite. After we reached the camping ground, it took another 15-20 minutes to reach the summit.

Almost there, but not quite. After we reached the camping ground, it took another 15-20 minutes to reach the summit.

Once you get to the top, you will find a 360-degree view of Laguna Lake and four neighboring mountains—Mt. Sembrano, Mt. Makiling, Mt. Arayat, and Mt. Maculot. Because we were the only group that climbed that morning, we had the peak to ourselves.

October 3, 2015



10 Comments

  1. I still find the cogon grass cute. 😀 Nakakasad, punung puno ng water lily yung water. :/ Anyway, mukhang worth it pa rin naman yung hike. And since di pa nga siya masyadong commercialized, konti pa talaga yung mga stores, water source, etc. 🙂 I love the view of Laguna lake, pag nagpupunta kaming Bicol passing by Tanay, nadadaanan namin. 🙂

  2. Isabel wrote:

    I’d rather have overgrown cogon grass than having no grass at all. I’ve only been to three mountains – Batulao, Pico de Loro and Daraitan. Sobrang kalbo na yung Batulao. 🙁 Glad Mt. Tagapo is like this. 🙂 You took very nice pictures! Ang ganda ng view, even from jumpoff pa lang 🙂 And your pose sa camping ground peg ko. Haha! 🙂

    • Kate wrote:

      I get sad whenever mountaineers tell me about how erosion is slowly destroying the mountains. 🙁 Pico de Loro is next on my list. Haha, I’m always looking for different ways to document my “I made it to the top” photo!

  3. Jeremy Garcia wrote:

    I never tried hiking and camping. Now I’m asking myself why? Hehe. I wanna experience that kind of adventure kaya lang medyo takot ako. I wish its not too late for me to do that. Mt. Tagapo is awesome! Your photos are really great:)
    Anyways, I hope I can hear a respond from you ms.kate why I can’t subscribe using my gmail account:(

  4. Dian wrote:

    Hi is it safe for solo hiking on weekdays? Thanks!

    • Kate wrote:

      Hi, Dian. Yes it is. When you arrive at the base camp, there’s a man in charge of briefing climbers and finding you a guide for P300.

  5. Abby wrote:

    Hi! I’d like to ask how much did you pay for the private boat from Calamba to Talim? I’m planning to go here and I’m from Cabuyao, Laguna hehe thanks! 🙂

  6. Via Vinson wrote:

    Hi kate! Can’t we just walk with ourself without having our personal tour guide?

    • Kate wrote:

      When you get there, you’ll have to check in first with the ranger first to pay for fees. I don’t think they’ll let you go alone without a guide. Don’t worry too much about having a guide. They adapt to the needs of the climbers, whether novice or expert. 🙂

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