Hiking with Kids: Mount Batulao
by: Manila For Kids
This is the first of a series about Hiking with Kids in the Philippines, featuring Mount Batulao. The youngest on this trip is a 2.5 month old baby, the eldest child is almost 10. Words and images by our very first contributor, Tina Verstraeten from Belgium. Edited by ManilaForKids.
Hiking with kids on Mount Batulao
Climbing Mount Batulao (811+) in Nasugbu, is quite a challenge with young children, but the reward is priceless. The kids will stay entertained with the 12 peaks and numerous rope parts and the views and rock formations are breathtaking.
Although the trail is easy to find if you load the map on your phone, do bring a guide for your peace of mind (especially if you are a first timer) so you are sure to find the loop. Most people agree that it is easier to start with the “Old Trail” once you reach the fork and descend from the peak by using the “New Trail”.
The hike starts like a walk in the park and the trail rolls up and down for a good part. But at a certain point closer to the peak, the slopes become very steep and narrow.
Be very careful and protect your children from losing their balance and falling off the ridges. Especially on the steep last ascend on the old trail - before reaching the peak, and on the first ridges of the New Trail when coming down.
There are some ropes that help, but I would climb closely behind my 4-year old son on the steep parts to support him when his little feet slipped, or have him rest a moment on my knee before he would continue the challenge. And I would remind my 7 and 9 year old girls to be careful and ask the guide for help to keep an eye on them on crucial parts.
The 9 km hike will take you anything between 3 and 6 hours, depending on your pace and the length of your breaks. You can do this as a day hike or stay overnight in Tagaytay. We stayed at Olive Tree Villa in Tagaytay, only about 10-15 minutes away from the jump-off point.
How to get there?
The jump-off point to start the hike is the KC Hillcrest Golf Club located on the way from Tagaytay to Nasugbu. Waze will show you the way, then ask the locals where to park to start the trail.
What to bring?
Bring some cash to pay for the guide (500 php) and parking (100 php). Along the way you pass some private properties and camp sites where you will be asked to register your name in a book and pay 20 or 30 php per adult. You can buy some soft drinks or buko juice in the huts you pass along the trail.
You will need around 2 liters of water per person. It is worth investing in camel bags (Decathlon has a good selection): kids love these and it keeps them hydrated along the trail. It also saves you from carrying 10 liter up the mountain for the whole family.
Bring a picnic lunch and some nice treats (little bribes) for the kids to keep the crowd happy. Hard boiled eggs, Yakult, (dried) fruits, nuts, cookies and candy will bring you a long way.
There is little shade, especially on the new trail so make sure you bring SPF and hats. If you are carrying a baby, an UV umbrella is a good idea. You can add rain jackets to your pack for when rain is in the forecast.
Do you want to read more including where the name “Batulao” derives from? Check here or check the many blogs raving about this hiking destination.
This is not a good hike for first time hikers with kids as the hike is categorized 4/9 for difficulty on Pinoy Mountaineers. It is better to start with a hike categorized in difficulty 1/9 or 2/9 and slowly add more challenge.
Some of my favorite first time hikes with kids include the Peak Manabu near Lipa and Mount Gulugod Baboy in Anilao. I will cover these hikes soon.
Of course you can always hike only part of the loop and avoid the more tricky and steep parts. The views and rock formations are stunning from the start, especially when taking the New Trail.
Avoid hiking this mountain when it rained a lot the night before. The trails are very exposed and get very muddy and slippery.
Tips to make your kids love hiking
Insider tip: go hiking more often, choose “fun” hikes with small challenges like bridges, ropes or rivers to cross. Make sure your kids are fit and healthy and invite friends to share in the joy of being a hiking champ!
Small bribes and rewards can kick-start reluctant little and not so little hikers. Bring some candy, let the kids carry walkie talkies, borrow your activity watch so your kids can keep track of the number of steps, “all good hikers get ice cream!”
Be inventive, whatever works to keep your child going. Very soon they will not need this external motivation anymore, and they will tell you how cool they think hiking really is!
About the Author
Tina Verstraeten is an adventurous mom of 3 kids, who has lived in the Philippines for more than 10 years. She is passionate about outdoor activities, and loves to share her love for hiking and biking with her children and like-minded families. You can reach her on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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