Mt. Apo: Philippines’ most eminent peak

Mt. Apo is the highest mountain in the Philippines and the second in all of Southeast Asia. It is a large solfataric potentially active stratovolcano on the island of Mindanao. It is claimed by the provincial government of Davao, which according to them, belongs to its jurisdiction. For the natives, it is known to be the kingdom of the mountain god, Apo Sandawa.

Mt. Apo is 10,311 ft above sea level with a vast area of 72, 796 hectares of mossy tropical forest, flowing rivers & streams, waterfalls, exotic flora & fauna and is home to the endagered Philippine eagle. Its name means “master” or “grandfather”. Mt. Apo overlooks Davao City which is 40 km northeast, Digos City which is 25 km southeast and Kidapawan City which is 20 km west.

The peak of Mt. Apo is flat topped and is capped with a 500 m wide volcanic crater containing a small crater lake. It has three peaks and is a source of geothermal energy. The date of the most recent eruption of Mt. Apo is unknown and none were verified in historical times.

Mt Apo: Highest Mountain in the Philippines

Mt Apo: Highest Mountain in the Philippines

Mt. Apo is one of the most popular climbing destinations in the Philippines since the summit is easy to reach. The best month for climbing would be April but it can be climbed year-round. History has it that the first recoded climb was a party led by Don Joaquin Rajal in October 10, 1880. There are several trails that would lead to the summit, coming from North Cotabato and Davao provinces. Average hike requires 2-4 days depending on the pace of the hikers and the trail. According to many backpackers and hikers, the difficulty of the hike is 7 out of 10.

Mt. Apo was declared a national park by President Manuel L. Quezon last May 9, 1936. Since then it has been a home to over 270 bird species (which include the famous Philippine Eagles) with more than a hundred that are being endemic. The Mt. Apo natural park includes 629 species under 148 families of vascular and non vascular plants. Five hundred seventy two species belong to 124 families of ferns and angiosperms, while 57 species belong to 24 families of bryophytes or mosses.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has submitted Mt. Apo for inclusion in the UNESCO world heritage list. The Banaue Rice Terraces and Palawan Underground River were already inscribed by UNESCO among many others. Some considered Mt. Apo as the center of endemism in Mindanao and also being the highest land-based biological diversity when it comes to flora and fauna per unit areas.  It has three distinct formations which are the lowland tropical forests, mid-mountain forests and high mountain forests.

Though declared as National Park, the current climbing trails are littered with rubbish, opening paths for soil erosion across the already denuded mountain sides. There are also some garbage piled up near the shores of Lake Venado (one of the highest lakes in the Philippines) which is supposed to be hauled out but many ignore this requirement.

Getting to Mt. Apo would take 1.5 hours from Manila through air via Davao City. If you want to take the Digos-Kidapawan trail from Davao City, take a cab which will take you to Ecoland Bus Terminal and look for a Digos Bound Bus. While in Digos, Davao del Sur, ask the locals for a direction of the terminal where you can take a public van transport bound for Kapatagan. Once you arrive at Kapatagan, find a ride going to Sitio Marawer which can either be a jeepney or a motorcycle for hire. Pay a visit to the Barangay Officials at Marawer so they can help you if ever you’ll need reliable porters or guides.

Alternatively you can also take the easiest route to Mt. Apo National Park which is through Kidapawan City. They city has Summer Climb or the Annual October Trek / Climb which you can participate. Starting point would be Lake Agco Resort, where tourists can dip in to the hot and warm pools sourced from the local hot springs.

Tips in climbing Mt Apo

  • Make yourself comfortable by wearing comfortable shoes and clothes.
  • Don’t be in a hurry to climb and reach the summit.
  • Don’t forget to bring rain gears and there will be unexpected rains from time to time.
  • Bring your own small tent
  • Bring a spare dry socks which you can use at night
  • If don’t want to bring your baggage, hire a porter for P200.00 with food per day. That way you can help the locals earn money and you can also take some pictures along the way.
  • If you decide to take the Kidapawan trail, make sure to check in at the tourist center so they can organize a guide for P500.00 per day.

Come and Explore Mt. Apo!

This page is last updated on Jul 12, 2011 @ 1:39 pm
About the author
Mark Anthony Maranga Mark Anthony Maranga is a Web Designer based in Cebu, Philippines. He sells Balloons and Party Supplies in Mandaue City, Cebu and explores the Philippines tourist attractions. During his free time he take pictures and write blogs. Check his website design portfolio and know more about him.

  1. Vanya says:

    how can we take a bath when climbing mt. apo

  2. peter john says:

    Mt. Apo summit is the highest peak of the Philippines which is also strategically located this part of the globe. it is only a matter of time when witnesses and actual evidences will come out. Proof that this place is frequently visited by aliens. 🙂

    • Vanya says:

      actually, there are evidences. like, the 6 mountain climbers and 1 tourist guide were stranded at a lake near mt. apo. but, there are no aliens. because if you look at the bible. john 3:16 – for god so loved the world, that he gave his one and only, for whoever believes in him, shall not perish but have everlasting life. did john 3:16 said for god so love the world and the aliens… no, so there are no proof about aliens

  3. dee says:

    Hi Mark,

    Would like to ask lang if you know or if you availed of any travel tour packages in Davao. 🙂 If none, what’s your top recommended places to visit. 🙂 Will be there with my mom by November, and I’ll just like to plan ahead. 🙂 And i read your post regarding kuya dodong from bohol. 🙂 very helpful indeed, i dropped him a mail and i hope he replies. 🙂

    keep up the great blogging work. 🙂 i’m now an avid fan. 🙂

    • Hi Dee,

      Thank you for the nice comments.

      Please check all the posts under my “Davao” category for the tourist spots that I recommend + Davao’s People’s Park and Tribu Kamindanawan (near Davao Crocodile Park). We did not avail any tour package, we traveled around Davao ourselves.

  4. martina says:

    hi, good evening,
    where and what groups of mountaineers i can pay cheap
    but good services and can handle the safety for foreigner with my companion.
    i want to secure his safeness because he is my visitor’s.
    hope to hear you to my email-add.

    thank you very much.

  5. bonnie bennete says:

    what is the best month to climb the peak? thanks fellas

  6. Restie Alfaro says:

    we’ll ascend Apo this April 21-24, 2011 via kapatagan-magpet trails.

    Interested to join, pls do contact us @ 09228455974

    Thank you


  7. GAry says:

    is it possible to climb without passing thru the bureaucracy of registrations and getting permits from the local tourist office at digos? just you have to go straight up kapatagan and make an arrangements with the brgy officials for your guide and porter? let me know, i would do the same.

    • Mark Maranga says:


      I think you need to follow the rules of the Tourism Authorities in Davao and get the permit from them.

      If you really want to pass the Kapatagan-Kidapawan without any permission from the main office, you have to do it “under the table” which I don’t recommend; and most of them do not accept bribes.

      Alternatively, you can check Davao City Tourism Office at or you can contact them at (+63)(82)222-1958. They are open 8am-5pm from Monday-Thursday and 8am-4pm on Friday.