Admittedly, 2 days before our trek to Mount Mago made me very doubtful since I haven’t been to any mountain for quite long already. But, deep within me, I can’t deny the fact that I’m really excited since I get to reunite with mountain again and meet my old trekker buddies. I was invited by my good friend, Arnold of Wandering Soul Camper, who used to tempt me on their previous treks the previous months, but I didn’t always get a chance because of Adulting duties. And at long last, I’m ready again, that’s why I immediately said yes to his invitation.
Mt. Mago is said to be the only Mountain Peak in Cebu that technically sits along the boundary of not just one Municipality, but three. It is peacefully located in the boundaries of Danao, Carmen and Tuburan, Cebu. Moreover, It stands around 755 MASL that offers a panoramic backdrop view of different mountains around. Actually, I got shocked the moment I knew about it. And so, I suddenly remember about our trek to Ablayan Peak in Boljoon, Cebu, 2 years ago. It is likewise located in the boundary of Boljoon and Malabuyoc. Also, Mt. Mago is also known to be one of the friendliest mountains in Cebu, since it has a very friendly trail when you get to its summit. Perhaps, the trail of Mt. Mago is comparable to the trail of Mt. Naupa.
True enough, Saturday arrived and our tryst was set at the Cebu North Bus Terminal. We were supposed to meet at exactly 12:00 Noon, but due to unforeseen adversity, we all arrived at the terminal by 1:30 PM. I arrived first since I’m very excited, because at long last I’ll get to traipse my feet along the mountain peak again. And while waiting for others, I had my lunch to gather some energy for our trek to Mt. Mago. I was with Arnold, Alton, Rafael, Clifford, Krey and 3 other friends whom I have just met for the first time.
Time was seemed to run faster, then we immediately ride a Bus bound for Carmen. The Bus was almost occupied with passengers as we went in. Therefore, we all sit in different seats, like one seat apart. I was sitting beside a girl, whom I had a chance to speak to her and ask where is she going, she said that she’ll go back home in Bogo, she just had an important meeting in the City. Along the way, she seems sleepy, and then I stop talking to her, or she might feel that I was a boring guy that talks nonsense things.
Anyway, Carmen, Cebu is around 2 hours drive from Cebu City, and offers a panoramic view of the coastline of the town of Liloan, Compostela and Danao, therefore we are truly mollified by the view. In fact, I haven’t even noticed that we have passed the town of Carmen, until my friend told me that we need to get down from the Bus. True enough, we immediately go down near the Carmen Public Market. And across the Public Market was Metro supermarket of Carmen. We immediately went inside the Supermarket to buy all the things we need for our overnight camp at Mt. Mago.
We seemed like we didn’t bother about the time, knowing that it was already 3:30 in the afternoon when we reached Carmen. Imagine – it took us an hour to buy all the essential things we need for our overnight camp like our trail food, drinking water, snacks. Also, our food for dinner and breakfast on the following day and our lunch as well. Then, one of the Habal-Habal (Motorcycle) drivers approached us, and after agreeing to the motorcycle fare, which is PHP 120.00, we immediately ride a motorcycle going to the jump off area.
Personally, I find our motorcycle ride as an adventure itself because of the rough road. At first, it has been just a smooth ride, then to my surprise the uphill road has become jouncy up to the jump off field. But, on the other hand, the scenic views while riding the motorcycle has given me a chance to get in touch with nature’s beauty at a glance.
Shortly, after 30 minutes of motorcycle ride from Carmen proper, we all arrived safely at the jump off area, which is in Sitio Binalbagan, Brgy Santican. We supposed to register first in the Brgy. Hall, which is located very close to the jump off area, but since it was Saturday that time, and perhaps some Brgy. workers were busy, then we didn’t get a chance to register. Additionally, the locals who are staying near the jump off area can actually guide, but since some of our friends have already been to Mount Mago for a couple times, hence we decided not to look for a local guide.
We began our trek with an easy trail as we passed by in a few houses. And so, a few minutes after, I get to witness the small changes of the trail from easy to a semi-assault trail. And since we started trekking like around 5:30 in the afternoon, as anticipated, we would experience night trek. And so, the whole place has slowly covered by darkness. Then, I became worried since I knew that I forgot to bring my headlamp, and the good thing was, some of our friends brought a headlamp.
The panoramic view along the way, which we supposed to enjoy didn’t happen the way we expected before we trek to Mount Mago. Simply, instead of feeling sad, I was still very happy since it was actually my first time to experience night trek. Indeed, It was truly fun, and one of a kind mountain climbing experience. As nearly as we reach the camping area, we actually took the old trail, which happened to have long been closed, according to the local who also taught us the new trail going to the camping area. True enough, a few minutes after our wrong turn, we successfully reached the camping area.
As soon as we arrived at the camping area of Mt. Mago, we instantly had a good spot to pitch our tent. The camping space was good enough for our 6 camping tents. Actually, there’s another two camping area near the peak, but it has already been occupied by other trekkers who arrived earlier than us. The one we had was actually close to the boundary stone between the town of Danao, Carmen and Tuburan, Cebu. The cold mountain breeze has started kissing my surface while I was pitching my camping tent.
I love how the wind hugged me tightly in a gentle manner. Then, I suddenly uttered a joke – Oh, this place feels like we had a centralized air-conditioning. And everyone was like – Oh, you got it right! Shortly after pitching our tent, we immediately prepare our dinner. And since we are aware that we won’t have time to cook for our dinner, we then bought 3 roasted chicken and Hanging Rice or locally known as Puso beforehand. As expected, everybody was very hungry and tired, and the sole way to pacify our jaded body is to eat as much as we can. True enough, we set up the wide plastic waterproofed sheet or locally known as Trapal. Then, we put all our food on top of it, then we started enjoying our dinner under the slight shade of light.
Soon after our luscious dinner, and this is perhaps the most awaited fun activity or commonly known for campers as “Social” time. Arnold has prepared something for all of us, since he has all the card games with him. I can limpidly see the excitement that well all have, especially for the first timer who haven’t tried the game before. We all gather around using the same wide plastic waterproofed sheet or locally known as Trapal, then we proceeded with the game. We first tried the “One Night Were wolf game”, the” Uno card game”, and the likes.
That night was simply a pure fun, laughing out loud, and perhaps a night to remember for all of us. We still didn’t bother to check about what time is it already, not until I feel like my body is asking me to rest. Truly, I couldn’t evade from my tiring body like as if a sort of plea that I couldn’t flout. Hence, while my friends were still enjoying the card games, I decided to get into my camping tent and have a good sleep. Unluckily, I can still hear their tempting laugh, and the fun has turned to be really luscious in the ear. Merely, my sleepy eyes and tired body really want to rest, and experiencing the night breeze on the heap was just too perfect that it lulled me into a deep slumber.
The morning breeze, which seemed to be really cold has woken me up. It took me a while before I resolved to get out of my tent, until one of my friends ask me to amble around the area while waiting for the sunrise. The minute I heard about the sunrise, I immediately went out like as if I was reminded – This is what I always long for whenever I had a chance to have an overnight camp in the mountains.
True enough, we amble around, but instead of seeing sunrise we saw the heavy fog that fills the whole expanse. We couldn’t see the overlooking view, but despite the dense fog that surrounds us, still we find it an amazing morning. Deep within us, we knew that giving up has never been in our vocabulary. Hence, we still cling to that hope of seeing the sunrise. The heaven must have heard us pleading sincerely because a few minutes later, the sun slowly spreading its light on the green fields. And I even caught the last moist gathering together while humbly dripping on the ground.
The sun and clouds were in a battle; fighting endlessly, since the clouds covered the sunlight most of the time. And because of that, we are also fighting for the good timing to experience a beautiful photo of a stunning backdrop of sun and the clouds. It could have been better if the clouds won’t go higher than where we stand to considerably call it – a sea of clouds. But despite how the clouds behave that time, we still truly enjoy and experience the panoramic view at some point.
A few minutes after playing with unpredictable relationship of the clouds and the sun, we decided to go back to our camping site. As we arrived, our body was begging for hot coffee, hence we had our coffee first before we started cooking our breakfast. And while we prepare for our luscious breakfast meal, some of our friends departed to the peak of Mt. Mago. Then, soon after, they went back and told us that they got a beautiful view. They have shown us their beautiful photos, and I was about to get jealous, but one of our friends told us that after breakfast will go to the mountain peak as well.
Unending out of nowhere stories comes in while we gather and prepared our breakfast, until everything was done and finally, we had our breakfast. Shortly after our breakfast, my friends decided to go to the mountain peak of Mt. Mago, but the clouds started to gather once more and the rain poured out. Unluckily, we ended up going back in our tent and took a nap instead.
The rain lasted almost two hours before we finally went to the Peak of Mt. Mago. Around us, It was a bit murky, but we still continue on our hike to the Peak. And while we made our way, I was begging for the clear blue sky to cooperate, so we can experience the stunning view at the peak.
Truly, after 15 minutes of hiking, we finally set foot at the peak, but we couldn’t see the panoramic view. The clouds around us serves as a backdrop of our photos, it was as if we were taking a photo in the studio with a snowy background. Simply, despite of what happened, we were still granted a few seconds to see the view.
Shortly after enjoying the peak, we went back to the camping site. And since it was already lunch time, we decided to have our lunch first because we still have left over food during our breakfast. Then, right after lunch, we started packing up our camping equipment and departed back to the jump off field.
We were not fortunate enough to see those stunning views on our way to Mt. Mago because the dark surrounding has taken over while we were still on the trail that time. But, on our way back to the jump off area, that was the time when we finally discovered how beautiful the views were. Eventually, we were enchanted by its splendid beauty that have left us speechless.
It took as a while to reach the jump off area, that instead of hiking for nearly 2 hours, we spent more than 3 hours on the trail because of the endless stop over for picture taking. We couldn’t just evade the panoramic views along the way, considering the fact that this is what we came for. Hence, every time we discovered a beautiful spot that gives us an opportunity for picture taking, we instantly grab it right away.
Descending wasn’t just a walk in the park, even though we have enjoyed the panoramic views along the way, but the clinging heat of the sun that touches our surface has become unbearable at some point. Indeed, it was a backbreaking challenge for us, but we still need to continue on our hike to reach the jump off area. I remember my sweet smile the minute we got to the jump off area, which means, the backbreaking challenge has finally had a period. We rested in a humble native house, that serves as a comfortable resting area of the locals or probably, it functions as a waiting shed for the locals that plans to go to the town of Carmen, since it was located close to their plaza. There – we got a good respite, some decided to change their clothes. And since we were all tired and hungry, we ate all the remaining trail foods that we still have. Soon after, we ride on a Motorcycle or Habal-Habal going to the town proper of Carmen.
We still set out to experience the jouncy road, and the refreshing mountain breeze along the way. Soon later, we have finally reached the Carmen proper, and we bought some snacks in Metro Carmen, before taking a Bus bound for Cebu City. It was about 8:00 in the evening when we reached Cebu City. And since we don’t want to end our bonding right away, we go directly to IT park and had our dinner there. Our sweet grin limpidly shows on our faces the minute we had our luscious dinner. It was as if the reward that we have long been waiting has finally arrived. After dinner, we even had our Milk Tea before we all resolved to separate ways. Indeed, it was another memorable weekend hiking trip for all of us that we can cherish forever.
How to Get to Mt. Mago
The easiest and most convenient way to get to Mt. Mago is via Cebu City. There are daily flights to Cebu from Manila, Davao and other part of the Philippines with Major Airlines (Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia). From the Mactan Cebu International Airport, ride a taxi going to North Bus Terminal.
There’s a MyBus outside the airport near the exit gate on the right side. From the Airport, the drop off point is in Parkmall and SM Cebu. The fare is Php 50.00. Trip schedules are from 7:00AM to 9:00PM with a 30 minute interval. And since Parkmall is located near the Cebu North Bus Terminal, you just have to ride a Jeepney or Taxi going to the terminal. The Jeepney fare from Parkmall is around PHP 8.00, but don’t forget to look for 01K Jeepney. And for the Taxi, the fare is around PHP 70.00-100.00, depending on the traffic flow.
From Cebu North Bus Terminal
Take a Ceres Bus bound for Carmen. The travel time is around 2 hours depending on the traffic flow. The fare is around PHP 55.00-65.00 depending on which king of Bus (Non-Aircon or Aircon Bus). Ask the Driver or the Bus Conductor to drop you off at the Carmen’s Public Market. Across Carmen’s Public Market is where the Metro Supermarket located, and from there, look for a Motorcycle (Habal-Habal) drivers that will take you to Barangay Santican. Motorcycle fare from Carmen to the jump off area is around PHP 100.00 to PHP 120.00, and travel time is less than an hour. As soon as you get to Brgy. Santican, go to their Barangay Hall, and register your names.
Mt. Mago Travel Tips
- Make sure your phone or camera is fully charged for picture purposes or bring Power bank as your back up. Wear your comfortable trekking shoes, clothes and everything that you need when trekking in the stack.
- Bring just the necessary thing you need when climbing the mountain. Always make sure that climbing the mountain with your heavy backpacks is not easy and it’s very tiring. It might drain your energy.
- Bring enough food, which includes trail food and always make sure to have a meal plan, particularly if you’re traveling in a group. Bringing of drinking water is also advisable, since there is no source of water near the camping site.
- Mt. Mago can possibly be enjoyed for a day trek. But, if you want to stay overnight, I suggest you start trekking by 4pm If you choose to stay overnight.
- Always remember that your tent is where you take the chance to rest at night, so make sure to bring a sturdy mountaineering tent and a sleeping bag cause it might be really cold at night and at dawn.
- Bring a reliable head lamp for you need it at night and also a ground sheet for your tent.
- We can’t foretell the weather, so you better bring your dry bag to put all your gadgets and camera when it rains.If you bid to have your snacks or meal at the summit, please take responsibility of your garbage, make sure to bring them all with you and don’t leave your garbage there.
- As of this writing, there are no exact guide fees to Mount Mago. However, I sincerely recommend that you give tips and snacks to your guide.
- Please remember to Leave No Trace (LNT) behind. Take good care of our mother nature. Just enjoy and be responsible enough. Don’t break its innate beauty.
Possible Travel Expenses To Prepare
Cebu North Bus to Carmen Via Aircon Bus (Back & Forth) – PHP 130.00
Food (Trail food, Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, Water) – PHP 450.00
Motorcycle Fare Carmen Proper to Jump off area (Back & Forth) – PHP 240.00
TOTAL – PHP 820.00
Mt. Mago Itinerary (Overnight Camping)
- 12:30 PM – Meet Up at North Bus Terminal
- 01:00 PM – Bound For Carmen
- 03:00 PM – ETA Carmen Public Market (Buying all the things needed for an
- overnight camp)
- 04:00 PM – ETD (Motorcycle ride from Carmen Proper to Jump off area )
- 04:30 PM ETA Jump off area (Brgy. Santican)
- 04:40 PM Trek to Mt. Mago
- 07:00 PM ETA Camping Area
- 07:10 PM Pitching tents
- 08:30 PM Dinner
- 09:30 PM Social (Warewolf game, Uno)
- 11:30 PM Lights off (Sleeping Time)
- 05:30 AM Wake Up Call
- 05:50 AM Picture taking (Sunrise)
- 07:00 AM Preparing for Breakfast
- 08:30 AM Breakfast
- 10:00 AM Break Camp
- 10:30 AM Descend From Mago Peak
- 12:30 PM ETA Jump Off Area (Brgy. Santican)
- 01:30 PM Depart for Carmen Proper
- 02:00 PM ETA Carmen
- 02:30 PM Depart for Cebu City
- 05:00 PM ETA North Bus Terminal
- 06:30 PM Home Sweet Home