Notes on climbing Mt. Apo from a climb November 10-13, 2006

Author: Richard L. Carey

Transportation: The arrival city on Mindanao Island will be the town of Davao. This is a large city with at least six flights a day from Manila. There is also a flight from Cebu, another major Philippine city. I think there is also a flight from Singapore to Davao, although I don't know the airline. I like the new airline Cebu Pacific. Their website is: If you need to stay the night in Davao I can recommend the Grand Men Seng hotel where I got a single room for 2200 Pesos ($44.00). The telephone is: (63-82) 221-9040.

Mountain Permits: I obtained a permit for the mountain at the city hall in Santa Cruz about an hour south of Davao. A taxi from town will cost 500 to 600 Pesos and probably 200 Pesos more from the airport. You can save a lot if you take a bus from Davao for about 40 Pesos. Contact person at the office is: Julius R. Paner at: (082) 441-1467. Another number if this doesn't work is: (082) 441-1463. The permit cost was 300 Pesos for one person. I recommend calling a few days ahead to make sure a guide is available when you want.

Mountain Guide: My guide was Ruel Nuevo who lives north of Santa Cruz. He was quite capable and I can recommend him. The permit office will contact a guide for you. Either the guide or someone from the permit office will help you purchase food for the mountain at a local market in Santa Cruz.

Porters: Your guide will select a porter(s). Typically there will be one porter for each paying climber.

Route: I started from Kapatagan and a truck taking us up there cost 500 Pesos for gas. The driver did not ask for any money. There are vans that go up to Kapatagan daily from Digos City, which is south of Santa Cruz. This route is a loop going up a steep section to the sulfur vents, crossing the top, and going down the north side to a hut near Lake Venado. The route then goes east through mostly dense jungle back to the starting point. This takes three days and two nights camping on the mountain. There is a route from Kidapawan on the west side that may be easier. I don't know about this. There is information on this route in the Philippines Travel Guide by Jens Peters, see page 774.

Costs: Here is what the climb cost me from Davao in Pesos. (50P = $1.00 U.S.)

Taxi to Santa Cruz = P600

Room in Santa Cruz = P350

Mountain permit = P300

Gas to Kapatagan = P500

Food for climb = P620

Van down mountain = P1100

Bus to Davao = P 80

Porters wages (P300/day + tip) = P1000

Guides wages (P500/day + tip) = P2000

Total = P6550 ($131.00 U.S.)

Equipment: You will need a moderate size daypack since the porter or guide will carry most of the gear. A light sleeping bag is needed good to about 30 to 40 degrees F and a sleeping pad. I got by without a tent, but sleeping in the guide's tent with the porter was rather cramped. If there are two of you or you are six foot or taller it would be best to bring a tent. A tent is essential since there was light rain each night I was there and November is in the dry season. Good lightweight boots. Ground cloth. Take eating bowl and utensils and small cup. Bug repellant wasn't needed in November, a good month to climb. We didn't use a water filter. The guide selected water from small streams which I drank without treatment and didn't have any problems. The guide will have a small stove or may use wood to cook with although this is against park regulations.

Maps: There really aren't any topo maps available for this mountain or for any mountains in the Philippines. There is an inexpensive map of Davao you can get in the country made by EZ Map. There is a good country map made by Periplus. The Canadian company International Travel Maps and Books in Vancouver also has a country map. None of these maps show the small town of Kapatagan, the starting point for the route I used.

GPS Waypoint File: A GPX waypoint file for this route is here: MtApo.gpx