The Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park is dominated by the twin peaks of Mount Baco (2488m) and Mount Iglit (2364m), which offer some challenging climbs; it can take up to two days to reach the peak of Mount Iglit, so these climbs are tough and not to be underestimated. Vegetation is so dense there have been no officially recorded ascents of Mount Baco. This is also a New People’s Army (NPA) area and while there have been no notable events involving tourists, it’s worth asking around for the latest information.

There are also a number of more leisurely treks through the foothills to areas in which you are most likely to see the endangered tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis), a dwarf bovine of which fewer than two hundred exist. The tamaraw, whose horns grow straight upwards in a distinctive “V” formation, has fallen victim to hunting, disease and deforestation, and to create more awareness of its plight there is talk of designating it the country’s national animal. Apart from the tamaraw, the park is also prime habitat for the Philippine deer, wild pigs and other endemic species such as the Mindoro scops owl and the Mindoro imperial pigeon.

To visit the park, you’ll first have to secure a permit (P50) and arrange a guide (P1000 for three days), either in San José at the Protected Area Office or the Sablayan Eco-Tourism Office. Both of these offices can help put together all of the logistics for your trip, including camping options, and can also advise on visits to the “Gene Pool”, a small laboratory where scientists are trying to breed the tamaraw in captivity. Reaching the park by public transport from Sablayan means taking one of the regular buses or jeepneys south along the coastal road to the barangay of Popoy, then a jeepney up the bumpy and rutted track to the park itself.

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