Traversing Aklan and Antique: A Three-day Hike to Mt. Madjaas via Panipiason, Madalag; Uncovering Aklan and Antique’s Hidden Treasures | rich'nritch.com

Traversing Aklan and Antique: A Three-day Hike to Mt. Madjaas via Panipiason, Madalag; Uncovering Aklan and Antique’s Hidden Treasures

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Mt. Madjaas, the highest mountain in the Island of Panay

It was 8AM in Sitio Mananggad, Barangay Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan when we started preparing our loads for our hike to Mt. Madjaas in Antique on the same day. It is the highlight of our seven-day exploration so far and the toughest. We’ve traveled from Libacao, crossed the border to Madalag, and hiked the highest mountain in Aklan for the past two days. Spending a night with the people of Panipiason was a heartwarming experience for us. Their warmth and humility deeply touched us.

Breathtaking view of Panipiason mountain ranges
Preparing our supplies for the hike

As we were preparing to set-out, one of our guides anxiously told us that he’s not sure if we can cross the rivers today because of the downpour last night. The rivers are unpredictable when it rains. He asked us to think again whether to proceed or not. Persistent with our journey, we decided to continue.

With our guides from Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan

My childhood was filled with outdoors and adventures. I grew up in the highlands and as a kid, the mountains served as my playground. Hiking Mt. Madjaas was a dream to me back then. Going to school, I would always look up to it and wish that I can climb it someday. It was last year when Ritch and I, on separate events hiked this majestic mountain from the Antique side (Flores trail).

Some photos of my three-day hike to Mt. Madjaas last year, January 2016, via Barangay Flores, Culasi, Antique:

The early morning view of Mt. Madjaas mountain ranges and it's summit from Flores, Culasi, Antique
The view deck of Camp 1 offers beautiful sceneries of vast mountain ranges and forest trees that you can't see in the lowlands.
The scenic view of Culasi mountain ranges
Our guides from Flores, Culasi, Antique
Enjoying the view after an early morning ascend from Camp one. We stayed here for a while before continuing our hike to the summit.

Apart from the stunning landscapes we saw on the view deck, the trail has so many magnificent views of wildlife.

Libog Falls can be seen from the town of Culasi

 

The dense forest along the trail of Mt. Madjaas

 

The Bonsai Forest deep inside Mt. Madjaas

 

This is the amazing Bonsai Forest where the trees don’t tower skyward like the ones on trail. They only grow few inches taller than the height of an average man.
The surreal view of Bonsai Forest

Mt. Madjaas is a tough mountain to climb with incredibly beautiful and preserved nature. The most beautiful sights can be found close to the summit.

 

 

Real gems of untouched nature make the most of the Mt. Madjaas ranges.
Thick fogs are building up when we are approaching the summit.

This place is magical, it feels like finding oneself suddenly in an enchanted garden right in the middle of the jungle. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The area is also home to rare and endemic birds and animals.
At the view deck of Mt. Madjaas, often called false summit, the fog was quickly building up on the other side when we got there.

VIDEO: On top of the highest mountain in the Island of Panay

 

The true summit of Mt. Madjaas, not far from the false summit
On our descent to Barangay Flores, Culasi, Antique

 

Photos of Ritchel during her hike to Mt. Madjaas last May 2016 via Flores trail:

Ritch hiked this majestic mountain in May 2016. It was a group climb organized by Higher Grounds, an Iloilo-based mountaineering organization.

The view of the forest in Camp one

The view of Bonsai Forest from a different perspective
Because of its incredible beauty, it has become a favorite hiking destination to many local and foreign tourists.

Ritch looking at the vast mountain ranges of Aklan from the false summit.

The view of Aklan mountain ranges
The impressive mossy forest along the trail, close to the summit.

Ritch with Tay Joshue on the true peak of Mt. Madjaas. Tay Joshue is the main guide of Madjaas, Flores trail.
An amazing view of Culasi shoreline from Mt. Madjaas

Ritch on their descent to Barangay Flores

This time, we are hiking it together from the Aklan side (Panipiason-Osorio via Alojipan trail). We walked for three days across swaying monkey bridge over Dumalaylay River, waist-deep river crossings, huge boulders, waterfalls, narrow ridges, and cliffs accentuated by scenic landscapes along the way.

The swaying monkey bridge over the river in Panipiason. Crossing this bridge is a tough challenge but for the locals here, it's a daily commute.
Drinking water, the local way

 

Holding on to tree roots during on some of our ascends and descends

 

One of our guides helping us carry our load across the river. These rivers are unpredictable when it rains.
The trail has unlimited waterfalls; here's one we found along the way
We found these amazing huge boulders in the middle of the river.
Everyone is having coffee, we spent the night here with the locals before we continued our hike to Mt. Madjaas the following day.
Pounding rice, the local way
Enjoying the dinner served by the locals. Native chicken soup and brown rice grown in the mountains.
A fresh catch of huge wild freshwater shrimps locally known as ulang (u-eang in Akeanon).

 

And look, they also caught some freshwater eels (sili in Aklanon)!

 

The breakfast is served and ready

 

Fuelling before we set out for another tiring hike

 

A heavy forested area somewhere in Aklan-Antique border.

Huge trees can be seen along the trail and they are impressive. 

 

 

An area showing how dense Aklan forest is.
The rain is pouring but we have to keep going to arrive on time to the next camp site.
The best place to spend the night in the middle of the jungle, used by some locals as shelters when they are out around this area harvesting ratan.
Cooking our breakfast in preparation for our longest trek yet. Breakfast in the cave XD
The hardest trek so far, mainly waking along and across rivers and  waterfalls.

The trail was very challenging and very exhausting, mostly 80 to 85 degrees ascend, thick forest, dense moss, heavily-thorned plants and trees, and aggressive leeches. We've gone through all hardships and extremities during the hike but seeing the wonderful treasures hidden in this part of Aklan and summiting the highest point in Panay was all worth it.

The trail in the Panipiason side has plenty of this heavily-thorned plants called ratan.
Apart from the heavily thorned plants, limatiks (bloodsucking leeches) are so many in the area.
The stunning view of small waterfalls flowing from Mt. Madjaas as seen from the Aklan side.
Aklan mountain ranges from on top of Mt. Madjaas.

VIDEO: View of vast mountain ranges of Aklan from Mt. Madjaas

 

The narrow ridges of Alojipan trail on our descent to Osorio, Culasi, Antique

VIDEO: Our descent to Barangay Osorio, Culasi, Antique

 

The summit of Mt. Madjaas is covered by a thick fog during our descent
The stunning view of the sunset during our descent towards Osorio

Though I've been to numerous destinations, both local and international, it's fascinating to know that there are so many paradise-like places in my home province, Aklan. All it takes is a strong will and courage fuelled by passion and a sense of purpose to discover and explore them. It was an amazing journey and for us, it was the best hike of our lives.

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