I recognised Mt Tagapo and Talim Island from the window of my Cathay Pacific flight as it came into land at Manila airport. This was to be my first adventure in 2015 in the Philippines and to test my fitness for some hiking i had planned. Mt Tagapo seemed like the ideal trek and climb.

Talim Island Mt Tagapo

Talim Island can be seen from the air jutting out into Lake Laguna

As i was staying in Taguig i thought that the 23 km trip to Binangonan, across the top of Lake Laguna, to take the boat to Talim Island would be straight forward. How wrong i was !!!!!  In the end it took around five hours as we couldn’t find any transport to take us to Binangonan directly. We had to travel up to Pasig by bus and then take a van from Ortigas down again to Binangonan….. a long way.

Mt tagapo talim island

Entrance to Binangonan Port

We eventually arrived at Binangonan Port just after 12.00 and with the next boat leaving at 13.00 I was a bit worried that we may not make the climb and be back down again for the last boat back at 18.30 from Brgy Janosa on Talim Island. We had some lunch in a nearby eatery and then boarded the boat to Brgy Janosa. The fare was P30 one way.

Mt tagapo talim island

Makati skyline seen from Lake Laguna

Out on the water there was a clear view of  the skyscrapers of Makati which emphasised to me how close the city and province had become. It was an hours journey along the shoreline of Binangonan to Brgy Janosa, passing small fishing villages, fishpens, houses on stilts and many other boats using the lake.

Mt tagapo talim island

View of Mt Tagapo from the boat

There were also good views of Mt Tagapo, which is 438m and is known locally as Susong Dalaga ( the maidens breast ), as the boat neared Talim Island.

Mt Tagapo Talim Island

Mt Tagapo rises above the houses

 

Mt Tagapo Talim Island

Heading towards Mt Tagapo

Somehow we jumped off the boat one stop too early, but after sitting for an hour it was good to walk  for 10 minutes to the Barangay Hall near the church where we had to register and pay P20 entrance fee. Since it was also our first time to climb Mt Tagapo we took a guide for P300,  and he explained alot about the history and culture of the Island along the way.

Mt Tagapo Talim Island

Resting in the shade of the Mango tree

The hike was quite easy at first, passing through the streets of the barangay and along the riverbed. Then we started to climb and on reaching a Mango tree the guide told us that we were now 1/4 of the way. A quick rest then we continued up through the forest, which was quite humid. The trail wasn’t that difficult, but for me coming straight from England i found that i was very unfit and easily got out of breath and had to stop many times for a rest.

Mt Tagapo Talim Island

Taking a rest to admire the view through the trees of Lake Laguna

Mt Tagapo Talim Island

Hiking through the humid forest

There were a couple of plants that i recognised that also grow in Bicol. One called Langaton which if it touches your skin can cause severe itching. Another called “hagupit” which has a rough underside and is used for cleaning pots and pans.

Mt Tagapo Talim Island

hagupit leaf used to clean pots and pans.

Mt Tagapo Talim Island

Langaton can cause severe itching if touching the skin

I was glad when we reached a bamboo tunnel, took time for a photo shoot and rest, and knew that we were almost at the end of the humid forested section of the trail. The last part of the trail passes through grassland. Cogon grass grows here and in places was even taller than me. Cogon grass is used to make thatched roofs. Bamboo is also harvested by the local people and is made into furniture.

Mt Tagapo Talim Island

Bamboo tunnel

Mt Tagapo Talim Island

Bamboo on its way down to be made into furniture

As we neared the summit of Mt Tagapo there was quite a strong wind blowing, which was a welcome change from the humidity of the forest. Views opened up all around the island and once at the summit  we had a 360 degree view of Lake Laguna and the surrounding mountains with Mt Banahaw to the south.

Mt Tagapo Talim Island

hiking up through the cogon grass

Down on the lake we could see the pens of the tilapia fish farms and through the afternoon haze in the distance were the skyline of Makati. The guide told us that Mt Tagapo was still an active volcano which had a side vent and steam could sometimes be seen on its eastern side near Brgy Tuna.

Mt Tagapo Talim Island

Fish pens of Brgy Tuna

Mt Tagapo Talim Island

Mt Tagapo Talim Island

There is a legend that at the summit of Mt Tagapo lies some buried treasure and you can see a huge hole that was dug by local people hunting for it. This has now been cordoned off and any further digging has been banned.

Mt Tagapo Talim Island

At the summit

Mt Tagapo Talim Island

with the guide at the summit

After enjoying the view it was time to go down again. We had 2 hours until the last boat left at 18.30 for the trip back to Binangonan. We arrived back at the port with time to spare and watched as the sun set over the Lake and  the moon rose over Mt Tagapo on our way back to Binangonan.

Mt Tagapo Talim Island

Sunset over Lake Laguna from Brgy Janosa, Talim Island

How to get to Talim Island and Mt Tagapo

Find your way to Binangonan, Rizal and head to the port. Once there ask where to board the boat to Brgy. Janosa, Talim Island.  The boat will leave when full usually. Fare is P30

On arrival at Brgy Janosa head to the Barangay Hall to register, pay P20 and hire a guide if you need one. Cost for guide is P300 for up to 6 people.

What to take

At least a litre of water
You can stock up with trail snacks at the sari sari store opposite the Barangay hall or bring from Binanongan with you.
small day pack
comfortable shoes or sandals
camera and spare batteries
hat and sunblock

Coming back into the Barangay i noticed this cockerel with his own clock…………..

Mt Tagapo Talim Island

Is the clock to wake the cockeral ?

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