Backpacking in the Philippines: Useful Tips for Beginner Mountaineers
The Philippines as a Backpacking Destination
The Philippines is a tropical archipelago located in Southeast Asia. Situated on its north is Taiwan (R.O.C.). To its south and southwest lies Malaysia, and to its west, Vietnam. To its east lies the vast Pacific Ocean. The Philippines is composed of 7107 islands all grouped into three major geographical locations: Luzon which is the largest island in the north, Visayas which is composed of a number of islands scattered across the Visayan Sea, and Mindanao which is the largest island in the south.
Backpacking, or mountaineering as it is commonly referred to in the Philippines, is a very popular sport in this island archipelago. Here you can practice mountaineering virtually all year round, thanks to the country's tropical climate. The mountains here offer an exotic, tropical appeal which never fails to captivate backpackers. Here you can also find a vast number of species of flora and fauna not found anywhere else. Some of the more popular climbing destinations here are Mt. Apo, the highest peak in Mindanao (and the Philippines), Mt. Kanlaon, the highest in Visayas, and Mt. Pulag the highest in Luzon. There are other climbing destinations depending on the flavor of the mountain you prefer.
Why Climb Mountains?
Imagine the invigorating fresh air filling your lungs, the slight tingling sensation of a gentle breeze brushing against your skin and hair, the chirping of birds against a background of rustling leaves, the smell of a fresh, clear forest spring, and its almost sweet taste as it cools you down and quenches your thirst. A few more steps take you to a wide open view -- the world in all its grandeur and splendor, as far as the eye can see, so lovely and peaceful to behold. This is the great outdoors, and not many people see and experience it. But to the intrepid mountaineer this is almost a way of life.
You Too Can Experience This!
Contrary to popular belief, mountaineering is not a sport intended only for those seekers of "extreme experience" who have more than the usual level of adrenaline in their blood. Anyone who is physically fit and has a genuine love for beautiful landscapes can also experience and enjoy the rewards of this worthwhile sport. The following tips will guide you and start you out on (perhaps) a lifelong journey with nature.
Some Useful Tips
To start enjoying the great outdoors, you must first consider these few simple things:
1) A Sound Mind in a Healthy Body -- The sport of mountaineering, like any other sport, requires a certain level fo physical and mental exertion. One must not attempt a climb without being physically and mentally prepared for the challenge. Do keep in mind that you will be venturing into the wild, and most of the time will be miles from the nearest town or medical facility.
To decrease chances of physical injury you may want to consider paying your doctor a visit so he can assess whether you are physically fit for this sport. You may also consider starting a physical training program to prepare you for your first venture into the wilderness. Keep in mind your doctor's advise before starting on any physical training program.
Aside from physical preparation, an equal amount of mental conditioning is necessary to prep you up for your wilderness adventure. Consider reading articles about mountaineering expeditions and try to learn how other people who have been there handled their day to day routines in the wilderness.
2) A Genuine Love and Respect for Nature -- Mountaineering is not just a sport. It is a communion with nature and its elements. Hence, one must ask himself first if he really wants to go out into the wilderness to experience life without the conveniences that modern living offers. Once you are out there, its only you and nature and you must learn to adapt your daily routines in order to enjoy the experience as much as you can.
In exchange for the great views, you must learn to respect nature so that others like you can also enjoy the same experience. Mountaineers live by a code: "Leave no trace.".
3) The Right Gear and Equipment -- The success of your expeditions will depend, to a certain level, on having the right equipment and gear for the trip. Too many wilderness trips ended in disappointment, and worse -- disaster, because someone did not have the right gear for the trip.