Wreck or Trek – Survival Essentials for Hiking Mt. Bulusan, Philippines

This is a guest post by Tess Pajaron.

Have you ever dreamed of climbing a mountain? And not just any mountain, but have you ever wanted to push your own limits and hike up an active volcano?

When picking a destination, active volcanoes are a popular choice among hikers and adventurous tourists – they seek the thrill of being on a volcano that could erupt at any moment! Being so close to something so unique and powerful can be a breathtaking experience that has the potential to change your life.

Mount Bulusan in the Southernmost part of Luzon, Philippines is one of these active volcanoes attracting people from all over the world. Since 1885, this volcano has erupted 15 times making it one of the most active volcanoes in the region. The most recent eruption was in February, 2011 when water mixed with magma causing an intense eruption causing an evacuation of the town of Casiguran, only five kilometers from the base of the volcano.

Since then, the volcano has been closed and only recently reopened to hikers. Now, it is a popular attraction but only suitable for the well-prepared.

Here are some survival tips to know before hiking up Mt. Bulusan.

Take the Necessary Equipment

Bulusan, Feb 22, 2011, as seen from Casiguran. Source: www.whatsonchengdu.com

For seasoned tourists, this may go without saying, but to stress the importance of preparation on a hike up such a unique terrain, I want to ensure that you are aware of what you will need. Before you leave, pack essentials, such as sunscreen, and extra clothing to keep from getting sun damage while on your excursion. For direction, you will have a guide but for safety should also take a map and a compass. Finally, take a tent that is lightweight and easy to carry up the mountain. Your gear should be sufficient but as light in weight as possible.

Be prepared with a First Aid Kit

To be safe, I also advise hikers bring a first aid kit, flashlight, matches, and a knife. While you are not likely to run into a situation where these are needed, they are always important to have in case of emergency. Higher up on the trail there are leeches which are not dangerous but if they latch on, the area where they penetrate the skin should be treated.

Train your Body

One of the most fun parts of this excursion is the physical challenge. But without training your body first to be in the physical shape it needs to be before starting your trek, you will likely not have as much fun and could potentially injure yourself. To help get in physical shape, I recommend doing a variety of aerobic activities such as running, swimming and biking. These will improve your endurance and workout a variety of muscles so are well-conditioned all the way around. Most importantly, don’t let this be your first time experiencing a hike up an incline. Find other hiking trails and climb those with your gear on your back before heading out to Mt. Bulusan.

Take Pictures

Throughout your excursion you will see a wide variety of landscapes and wildlife. As your trek up Mt. Bulusan begins, you will be hiking around a beautiful lake with breathtaking scenery. This is the perfect opportunity to snap a photo to remember the start of your trip. Once you hit the fork in the road, a steep ascent hiking up boulders and rocky terrain will be another moment you will not want to forget. Then, you will come to another lake which has been dried out over the years which has since turned to grassland terrain. When you finally reach the summit is where you will truly appreciate that you have a camera. This is a place that a few people have ever been and you will undoubtedly want to capture it on film.

These tips I learned from experience and will help you get the most out of your time on your thrilling hike up this natural volcano.