At 2435m Mount Kanlaon, two hours south from Bacolod by jeepney, is the tallest peak in the central Philippines and offers a potentially dangerous challenge. One of the thirteen most active volcanoes in the country, there’s the real possibility of violent eruptions and climbers have died scaling it. The rim of the crater is a forbidding knife-edge overhanging an apparently bottomless chasm. The dense surrounding forest contains all manner of wonderful fauna, including pythons and tube-nosed bats and locals believe the mountain is home to many spirits. It also features in Philippine history being where President Manuel Quezon hid from invading Japanese forces during World War II.

There are three main routes up the volcano itself. The Guintubdan trail is the easiest and most comon ascent, but even this should not be underestimated. The usual start point is Guintubdan, where there is basic accommodation at The Pavilion (P499 and under) and Rafael Salas Nature Camp (P499 and under). From here, although it’s only 8km to the top, the trail is best broken with an overnight stop. The 14km-long Mananawin trail works best over three days and offers the chance to really get to know the region, while the short, steep Wesey trail is very exposed and only for experienced tropical mountaineers.

Whichever way you choose to ascend, a permit (P300) and guide (P500/day) are mandatory, and a porter (P300–500) might come in handy. The easiest way to make all of these arrangments is through Billy Torres at Next Stop Negros Tours. Contact Billy as far in advance as possible (ideally a month), and he can arrange everything from permits, guides and porters to tents and meals (climbs around P4500/person excluding transport). Coming from further afield you can also arrange to climb Kanlaon through Dumaguete Outdoors in Dumaguete.

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