A Week into the Wild: What We Found in Walking Across Aklan and Antique Mountain Ranges for 7 Days | rich'nritch.com

A Week into the Wild: What We Found in Walking Across Aklan and Antique Mountain Ranges for 7 Days

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Trekking the pristine river somewhere in the tip of Aklan. The upstream river is part of the long trail leading to the elusive summit of Mt. Madjaas.
Trekking the pristine river somewhere in the tip of Aklan. The upstream river is part of the long trail leading to the elusive summit of Mt. Madjaas.

More than the famous powdery white sand beach of Boracay Island, many parts of Aklan remain hidden and untouched. The province of Aklan, particularly the towns of Libacao and Madalag, is home to numerous unexplored mountain ranges; a potential mountaineering destination in the country. The highest mountain in Aklan, Mt. Nausang (locals call it Mt. Maylomay), has just been explored by AMSI (Antique Mountaineering Society Inc.) in May. Mount Nausang is 1,464 MASL. It's summit is located in Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan and it’s ranges extend up to Oyang, Libacao, Aklan. Inspired by the exploration of AMSI in Mt. Nausang, Richard and I attempted a hike traversing Mt. Nausang from its ranges in Libacao, Aklan to it’s summit in Panipiason, Madalag and connect it to Mt. Madjaas in Antique. The hike was our personal endeavor, fuelled by our strong passion for exploration.

With the friendly DENR staff and locals of Barangay Oyang, Libacao, Aklan.
With the friendly DENR staff and locals of Barangay Oyang, Libacao, Aklan.
Posing with our guides from Oyang, Libacao, Aklan before we hit the trail.
Posing with our guides from Oyang, Libacao, Aklan before we hit the trail.
Crossing the Aklan River in a bamboo raft, commonly used by locals for river-crossing and transporting goods to the towns downstream.
Crossing the Aklan River in a bamboo raft, commonly used by locals for river-crossing and transporting goods to the towns downstream.
The upstream of the Aklan River, the longest in Aklan and known as the Libacao wild river. The clean and clear water is a perfect venue for bamboo rafting, kayaking, and other extreme water sports.
The upstream of the Aklan River, the longest in Aklan and known as the Libacao wild river. The clean and clear water is a perfect venue for bamboo rafting, kayaking, and other extreme water sports.
On the first night of our exploration, we stayed in this Abaca farmer's hut.
On the first night of our exploration, we stayed in this Abaca farmer's hut.
The dense forest of Oyang mountain range. This is part of Mt. Nausang's range from Madalag that extends to Libacao, Aklan.
The dense forest of Oyang mountain range. This is part of Mt. Nausang's range from Madalag that extends to Libacao, Aklan.
Our guides are trying to find good scenery inside the dense forest.
Our guides are trying to find good scenery inside the dense forest.
The forest is so thick, there are no views at all even if you climb the trees.
The forest is so thick, there are no views at all even if you climb the trees.
We saw this on our way back, the stunning panoramic view of the Libacao mountain ranges as the Aklan river winds its way through the valley, stretching on as far as the eye can see.
We saw this on our way back, the stunning panoramic view of the Libacao mountain ranges as the Aklan river winds its way through the valley, stretching on as far as the eye can see.

Our expedition didn’t go well as planned. We were unable to find a trail connecting Mt. Nausang and Mt. Madjaas. Due to terrain difficulty, we had to cross from Libacao to Madalag and hike Mt. Nausang in Panipiason side.

With the friendly and accommodating people of Barangay Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan before we hiked Mt. Nausang.
With the friendly and accommodating people of Barangay Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan before we hiked Mt. Nausang.
Looking at the view of Aklan mountain ranges while we're climbing Mt. Nausang in Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan.
Looking at the view of Aklan mountain ranges while we're climbing Mt. Nausang in Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan.
The lush green surrounding of the trail leading to the summit of Mt. Nausang is refreshing.
The lush green surrounding of the trail leading to the summit of Mt. Nausang is refreshing.
The mossy forest trail. The whole trail is covered with moss.
The mossy forest trail. The whole trail is covered with moss.
The trail has plenty of plants called Lagiwriw. In some parts of the hike, you’ll be climbing onto these plants.
The trail has plenty of plants called Lagiwriw. In some parts of the hike, you’ll be climbing onto these plants.
On the summit of Mt. Nausang, the highest mountain in the province of Aklan.
On the summit of Mt. Nausang, the highest mountain in the province of Aklan.
Ritchel poses for a picture in the unspoiled summit of Mt. Nausang.
Ritchel poses for a picture in the unspoiled summit of Mt. Nausang.

After our descent, we continued our hike to Mt. Madjaas and descended in Osorio, Antique. After 7 days of arduous walking in the jungles and mountains of central Panay, we completed our journey. 

Celebrating with the kids of Barangay Panipiason after our tiring yet fulfilling hike.
Celebrating with the kids of Barangay Panipiason after our tiring yet fulfilling hike.
The famous Agtughangin Falls in Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan. It feels good to get refreshed in a natural shower after a tiresome hike.
The famous Agtughangin Falls in Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan. It feels good to get refreshed in a natural shower after a tiresome hike.

Our experience from the unexplored ranges of Libacao to the highest pristine mountain of Aklan (Mt. Nausang) in Madalag and traversing the Aklan mountain ranges to reach the summit of the highest and majestic mountain of Antique (Mt. Madjaas) in seven days were, by far, the BEST DAYS OF OUR LIVES as Akeanon mountaineers. We've seen the unimaginable treasures hidden in the wilderness, the richness of the flora and fauna, and spectacular views atop the highest peaks. We've gone through death-defying, nerve-racking, don't-you-slip boulders, cliffs, knife edges, rocks, and overhangs.

Posing with our guides from Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan.
Posing with our guides from Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan.
Drinking water in the jungle, the local way.
Drinking water in the jungle, the local way.

 

The trail is very steep and challenging. In many parts, you’ll be holding onto tree roots during ascends and descends.
The trail is very steep and challenging. In many parts, you’ll be holding onto tree roots during ascends and descends.

 

Enjoying the serenity alongside this pristine river located deep inside the jungles of Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan.
Enjoying the serenity alongside this pristine river located deep inside the jungles of Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan.
It’s drizzling, the river is waist-deep and the current is strong. Our guides helping us carry our packs across the river.
It’s drizzling, the river is waist-deep and the current is strong. Our guides helping us carry our packs across the river.
A short upstream walk alongside the riverbank will take you to this wonderful waterfall.
A short upstream walk alongside the riverbank will take you to this wonderful waterfall.
As we hike further upstream, we were surprised to see these huge boulders. The river flows in between these impressive boulders forming a rapid and a deep pool inside.
As we hike further upstream, we were surprised to see these huge boulders. The river flows in between these impressive boulders forming a rapid and a deep pool inside.
Feasted on native brown rice (camorós) and native (bisayá) chicken tinola for our dinner. We spent the night here with the locals before we continued our hike to Mt. Madjaas the following day.
Feasted on native brown rice (camorós) and native (bisayá) chicken tinola for our dinner. We spent the night here with the locals before we continued our hike to Mt. Madjaas the following day.
A fresh catch of huge wild freshwater shrimps locally known as ulang (ú-éang in Akéanon).
A fresh catch of huge wild freshwater shrimps locally known as ulang (ú-éang in Akéanon).

 

And look, they also caught some freshwater eels (sílí in Akéanon)!
And look, they also caught some freshwater eels (sílí in Akéanon)!

 

Our breakfast is ready, fuelling before we set out for another tiring hike.
Our breakfast is ready, fuelling before we set out for another tiring hike.
The trail has unlimited waterfalls, the Madang-gá waterfall (hot and humid in Akéanon) is one of the most captivating that we’ve seen along the way.
The trail has unlimited waterfalls, the Madang-gá waterfall (hot and humid in Akéanon) is one of the most captivating that we’ve seen along the way.

 

A closer look of Madang-gá waterfall found deep inside the forest of Aklan. It’s one of the highest waterfalls on the trail. The cascading cold water is good for hydro massage.
A closer look of Madang-gá waterfall found deep inside the forest of Aklan. It’s one of the highest waterfalls on the trail. The cascading cold water is good for hydro massage.

 

Unpacking our loads for lunch beside the waterfall.
Unpacking our loads for lunch beside the waterfall.
The deep forest of Central Panay in Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan.
The deep forest of Central Panay in Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan.
The forest has a very dense vegetation.
The forest has a very dense vegetation.
The rain is pouring but we have to keep going to arrive on time to the next camp site.
The rain is pouring but we have to keep going to arrive on time to the next camp site.
Keeping up with the guides. The foliage is so thick and green and there is no visible trail making it hard to navigate.
Keeping up with the guides. The foliage is so thick and green and there is no visible trail making it hard to navigate.
Nanáw River, running from the foot of Mt. Madjaas all the way to the Aklan river.
Nanáw River, running from the foot of Mt. Madjaas all the way to the Aklan river.
According to some locals, there was a plane crash that happened somewhere in this area a long time ago.
According to some locals, there was a plane crash that happened somewhere in this area a long time ago.
A small waterfall not far from the river, the water is crystal clear and icy cold.
A small waterfall not far from the river, the water is crystal clear and icy cold.

We've slept in huts, a cave, and under the canopy of trees in the middle of a rainforest and overcame the freaking coldness of the night. We've trekked in the evening and in dawn. We've smiled and laughed at our slips, falls, and rolls amidst all the mud, sweat, bites, scratches, sprains, and bruises. We've struggled against leeches and insects. We've survived the heavy rains and fog.

The best place to spend the night in the middle of the jungle. The cave is used by some locals as shelters when they are out around this area harvesting ratans.
The best place to spend the night in the middle of the jungle. The cave is used by some locals as shelters when they are out around this area harvesting ratans.
Cooking our breakfast in preparation for our longest trek yet. Breakfast in the cave.
Cooking our breakfast in preparation for our longest trek yet. Breakfast in the cave.
The hardest trek so far, mainly walking along and across rivers and waterfalls.
The hardest trek so far, mainly walking along and across rivers and waterfalls.
The river is relatively easy to follow but as we go further upstream, it becomes more and more difficult.
The river is relatively easy to follow but as we go further upstream, it becomes more and more difficult.
We’ve gone through huge and slippery boulders that can cause slip and fall.
We’ve gone through huge and slippery boulders that can cause slip and fall.
River trekking is never smooth for it requires great effort and caution.
River trekking is never smooth for it requires great effort and caution.
The stunning view of small waterfalls flowing from the slopes of Mt. Madjaas as seen from the Aklan side.
The stunning view of small waterfalls flowing from the slopes of Mt. Madjaas as seen from the Aklan side.
The climb to the slopes of Mt. Madjaas is getting more difficult. The incline became steeper as we climb onto dry and slippery waterfalls. Luckily, there were plants to hang onto.
The climb to the slopes of Mt. Madjaas is getting more difficult. The incline became steeper as we climb onto dry and slippery waterfalls. Luckily, there were plants to hang onto.
A huge boulder wall forming like a cave, perfectly shaped by nature on the slopes of Mt. Madjaas.
A huge boulder wall forming like a cave, perfectly shaped by nature on the slopes of Mt. Madjaas.
The vast mountain ranges of Aklan seen from the Aklan side of Mt. Madjaas. The highest one is Mt. Nausang (locally known as Mt. Maylomay).
The vast mountain ranges of Aklan seen from the Aklan side of Mt. Madjaas. The highest one is Mt. Nausang (locally known as Mt. Maylomay).
The view of the town of Culasi, Antique from the trail of Mt. Madjaas; showcasing the islands of Mararison and Batbatan.
The view of the town of Culasi, Antique from the trail of Mt. Madjaas; showcasing the islands of Mararison and Batbatan.
The view of Aklan mountain ranges from Maria Christina side of Madalag, the source of Timbaban river.
The view of Aklan mountain ranges from Maria Christina side of Madalag, the source of Timbaban river.
The view of Aklan mountain ranges from Panipiason side of Madalag, the source of Dumalaylay River.
The view of Aklan mountain ranges from Panipiason side of Madalag, the source of Dumalaylay River.
According to our guide, this is one of the summits of Mt. Madjaas.
According to our guide, this is one of the summits of Mt. Madjaas.
Enjoying the mossy forest of Mt. Madjaas. The lush green forest is surrounded by lots of trees coated by moss that offers enchanting view.
Enjoying the mossy forest of Mt. Madjaas. The lush green forest is surrounded by lots of trees coated by moss that offers enchanting view.
Stunning view of Madjaas ridges all the way down to Culasi during our descent to Barangay Osorio via Alojipan trail.
Stunning view of Madjaas ridges all the way down to Culasi during our descent to Barangay Osorio via Alojipan trail.
The fog were all over during our descent. The summit of Mt. Madjaas were obscured by clouds.
The fog were all over during our descent. The summit of Mt. Madjaas were obscured by clouds.
Taking a selfie with our guide during our descent.
Taking a selfie with our guide during our descent.
Breathtaking view of sunset over Sulu sea.
Breathtaking view of sunset over Sulu sea.
Looking at the breathtaking view of sunset over Sulu sea.
Looking at the breathtaking view of sunset over Sulu sea.
Mt. Madjaas summit is covered by thick clouds as we descend towards Barangay Osorio, Culasi, Antique.
Mt. Madjaas summit is covered by thick clouds as we descend towards Barangay Osorio, Culasi, Antique.

We've immersed into the diverse cultures of our local guides and the communities we passed through. We've learned their dialects and ways and ate with them like a family as they treat us as their own.

Playing with the kids of our host family in Barangay Osorio, Culasi, Antique the next day after our descent from Mt. Madjaas.
Playing with the kids of our host family in Barangay Osorio, Culasi, Antique the next day after our descent from Mt. Madjaas.
Showing the photos of our hike to the kids. They're amazed and can't stop laughing.
Showing the photos of our hike to the kids. They're amazed and can't stop laughing.
The kids are eager to have their pictures taken.
The kids are eager to have their pictures taken.

 

Ritchel pose for a picture as she carries the kid on her back. The little fella is very happy.
Ritchel pose for a picture as she carries the kid on her back. The little fella is very happy.

 

Leaving Barangay Osorio to Culasi town. The kids pose for more pictures as we bid goodbye to our host family while the habal-habal driver loads our bag on his motorbike.
Leaving Barangay Osorio to Culasi town. The kids pose for more pictures as we bid goodbye to our host family while the habal-habal driver loads our bag on his motorbike.

 And the best thing that happened to us is - we've found in nature the happiness that we deserve. 

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