Mt. Kapayas and Lumanoy Cave: An Adventure Up North


done photo 579554_3923481860209_26338469_n_zps0a50e4f2.jpg

Never underestimate a mountain—any mountain. It doesn’t matter if the mountain is less than 1000 MASL, conveniently surrounded by human habitation, or frequently visited. It demands respect, reverence, and care.

An example of such a mountain is Mt. Kapayas, located in Sitio Kampanya, Barangay Kabangkaya in the bowels of Catmon, Northern Cebu.  At 783 MASL and sheltering a couple of mountain villages that are yet to receive the full benefits of modern civilization, Mt. Kapayas is an enticing, relatively unexplored mountain that harbors plenty of secrets and challenges. For a relatively low mountain, it offers mountaineers a good dose of adventure.

So last February 10, 2013, Sweetie and I decided to invite a few friends to climb Mt. Kapayas. I have already summited the mountain twice, and Sweetie accomplished her summit bid once. However, some of our adventurer friends haven’t set foot at the rocky Torre, the peak of Mt. Kapayas; and, well, let’s just say that our adventure stories may have sparked their curiosity and interest. Also, one of our regular adventuring friends, Sir Ronald Ramiso, wasn’t able to summit the last time we’ve been there. So, this was what he called his Mt. Kapayas “redemption” climb.

After a one-and-a-half hour journey, we arrived at Catmon proper. We started really early (we departed Cebu around 5:30 AM) to escape the hot sun and to allow enough time for us to explore the nearby Lumanoy Cave.

done photo SANY0005_2400x1800_zpsc6bf1de3.jpg

First things first, and that involves registration. We proceeded to the Catmon Police Station to register our names for safety.

done photo 534928_3923426298820_2015973478_n_zps547a9d01.jpg

A friendly habal-habal driver told us that the habal-habal station is in Tambisan, a short walk from Catmon proper. So we had our warm-up at 8:00 AM.

done photo 11346_3923426698830_1521241976_n_zps702126ba.jpg

It took us awhile to wait for four habal-habals that would take us to Sitio Kampanya. You’ll know why it took a bit of time to hire them in a few moments.

done photo SANY0017_zpsfc61a31f.jpg

After securing four habal-habals and negotiating the fare, we started our journey to Mt. Kapayas. During the first hour of the trip, the motorcycles travelled through asphalted roads with some sections in terrible disrepair.

done photo SANY0022_zps481aa28b.jpg

The road becomes even worse as we passed by Barangay Agsuwao, the gateway to Sitio Lumanoy. This is where you’ll understand why only very few habal-habal drivers agree to take you to Sitio Lumaony and why they charge large fees. The long road, which is a little more than a dirt path of sorts, is almost impassable. Only the toughest motorcycles are able to traverse the deep mud canals, the rocky ascents and descents, and the whiplashing vegetation. Less powerful motorcycles, multicabs, sedans, and even some 4X4s cannot traverse this length of road. In fact, we had to frequently get off the motorcycles in order for them to traverse certain sections of the road.

done photo SANY0024_zps68ec5ada.jpg

That’s the back end of Mt. Kapayas. The summit is at the other side of that mountain.

done photo SANY0006_2400x1800_zpsb598248c.jpg

After almost two hours of bone-jarring motorcycle ride, we finally arrived at the jump-off point. At last, we could let our bruised butts rest.

done photo 64851_3923433178992_900184444_n_zps661773fa.jpg

Some of us refilled our water bottles at the nearby water source. The fresh, cool water flows directly from a mountain spring.

done photo SANY0010_2400x1800_zps05fdc563.jpg

After a short prayer, it was time to start the trek. Immediately after the jump-off is this steep rise. Don’t worry; after ascending that rise, the path becomes a rolling terrain with gentle ascents and descents.

done photo SANY0033_zpse847ce4b.jpg

Along the way are small settlements of human habitation. We saw these folks looking curiously at us as we approached them.

done photo 222785_3923436419073_1766710316_n_zps33280a10.jpg

Around 30 minutes into the trek, the trail crossed this shallow stream. You can hop across it if you don’t want to get your feet wet, or you can simply wade through it so you can cool off your hot, tired feet.

done photo 73439_3923441339196_2117157089_n_zps097a5001.jpg

That’s a beautiful, clear, clean freshwater stream fed from rainwater and groundwater from the mountain.

done photo SANY0042_zps575cc601.jpg

The trail continued to go up and right smack behind this small house. To our surprise . . . and embarrassment, we stumbled on a celebration. Specifically, it was a traditional “Kurenta Diyas,” the 40th and the last day of mourning over the passing of a loved one.

done photo 11185_3923448499375_2005190948_n_zpsed7b723d.jpg

We were supposed to acquire our guide here then immediately proceed to the summit, but the kind missus who owned the house invited us for a meal. We vehemently declined while stating our original purpose. However, she was also equally persistent that we join the celebration. Thus, we were able to partake of a sumptuous lunch of viands made from farm-fresh ingredients! Delicious! And to think that this was not part of our itinerary!

done photo 531731_3923446419323_343207364_n_zpsb9fa1ba1.jpg

After thanking the kind lady for the lunch and securing a local guide, we started the assault to Mt. Kapayas. But first, we need to pass this small stream which is filled with farm monsters. Can you spot the well-hidden monster here?

done photo 603885_3923449099390_757839528_n_zpsb220f4d6.jpg

Beyond the stream is this grassy hill, the mountain’s shoulder. This also acts as a campsite in case mountaineers wish to stay overnight.

done photo 563159_3923449859409_1926166966_n_zps3d2abae4.jpg

Along the way, we spotted these horses. From our guide, we learned that Barangay Kabangkaya is actually a breeding ground of horses, an immense network of meadows which horses graze around. Rich folks back in the city who are horse lovers buy their animals here.

done photo SANY0020_2400x1800_zpsd5d5c458.jpg

The first segment of the trail to Mt. Kapayas’s summit is open and fully exposed to the sun. The main “obstacle” to contend with at this stage is heatstroke.

done photo SANY0067_zps6898e6e8.jpg

Thankfully, an hour later, we entered a lightly wooded area that protected the team from the full blast of the midday sun.

done photo SANY0070_zps24003024.jpg

After a steep ascent in the wooded area, we emerged at this rocky section of the mountain. During rainy months, this becomes a small corn farm. But during dry season, this becomes just another parched, rocky patch on the mountain.

done photo SANY0078_zps1f3d7952.jpg

There was a farmer’s shelter nearby where we shielded ourselves from the brunt of the sun’s heat.

done photo 554008_3923456259569_1970072972_n_zps6d6e4d55.jpg

After a quarter of an hour of rest for everyone, we continued our assault. Thankfully, the trail went inside a much thicker jungle, which provided much respite from the power of the sun . . .

done photo 6430_3923453939511_828460861_n_zps55db9c28.jpg

. . . but thoroughly punished our feet. The trail was littered with sharp, slippery, and loose rocks. Be careful! Watch your step here to avoid an embarrassing, possibly injurious fall.

done photo 16404_3923451779457_655115511_n_zps94477349.jpg

As we neared Torre, the peak, the trail became even rockier. Fallen trees block the trail, which forced us to duck under them.

done photo DSC03262_zps629aeff7.jpg

The best part of our Mt. Kapayas climb started at the base of Torre’s cliff base. To access the summit, we needed to free solo (i.e., climb without ropes) a 15- to 20-foot rock face that serves as a gateway to a passage that leads to the summit. Yes, it involves climbing up a vertical rock face!

done photo DSC03227_zps1dbf867e.jpg

With a magnificent backdrop of mountains, the climb was definitely spiritual! Here, you will feel how insignificant you are against Mother Nature. That realization puts you in your rightful place, humbling you. You will realize that there are powers out there that you can’t possibly comprehend, and you are just another insignificant, temporary occupant in this huge, huge world.

done photo 308032_3923467419848_1206844955_n_zps9391c3dc.jpg

Sweetie started her ascent while others waited for their turn below her. Yes, you are looking at the actual verticality of the wall!

done photo 71841_3923463299745_1084447469_n_zps3fd9dfad.jpg

As rock climbers, Sweetie could hardly contain her excitement in scrambling up this cliff. The others were pretty hyped up too! In most mountains in Cebu, the summit can be reached via a simple trek. But in Mt. Kapayas’s case, it can be accessed only by climbing a cliff! Now that’s something different because it adds an element of real danger of falling down to the abyss below.

done photo 556343_3923463419748_314774242_n_zps10e3239e.jpg

I call this section “Kiss the Wall” after its bigger and more popular counterpart in Mt. Guiting-Guiting. Sweetie is holding cracks in the rock that jutted a little bit outward from the main cliff face. See her foot? That is actually resting on the edge of the cliff. This means, climbers will have to lean slightly backward into the abyss.

done photo 5839_3923464419773_871141489_n_zps9f224035.jpg

After safely passing through the Kiss the Wall, you simply need to scramble up this rocky passage to reach Torre.

done photo 582600_3923491660454_809032365_n_zps612df5d7.jpg

The rest of our team emerged from the passage.

done photo DSC03229_zps9a331ba9.jpg

Torre is actually a rocky limestone outcropping on top of Mt. Kapayas. The summit area is small, perhaps just around 30 square meters, which can accommodate only a limited number of people. All around the outcropping are cliffs.

done photo DSC03233_zpsd5f5bab0.jpg

The view from the summit is simply breathtaking. You will never realize how huge and grand Cebu Island is until you have an unobstructed view of it from the clouds.

done photo SANY0102_zpsfc1ee148.jpg

Houses and other man-made structures are just tiny dots on the top of hills. It’s a vividly accurate representation of how small we are in the great arena of nature. That is why we need to give Mother Nature the reverence and respect that are due to her.

done photo SANY0101_zpsa21a22d5.jpg

Sweetie braved a rock outcropping at the very edge of the summit to have a better view of the magnificent landscape below. Look at how high she is. This is what you see on top of a 783 MASL mountain with a sheer drop. But notwithstanding the obvious danger, the spectacular show of nature leaves you breathless, amazed, and refreshed.

done photo 11292_3923478300120_441658049_n_zps488d6d83.jpg

Just below Torre is a ledge where I indulged myself in my own silent sojourn, meditation, and reflection.

done3 photo DSC03253_zps012acdd8.jpg

After half an hour enjoying Torre, we said our farewells to the summit and started our descent so we can continue on to explore the mysterious Lumanoy Cave.

done photo DSC03257_zpsc11c258f.jpg

Sweetie expertly navigated her way down the cliff face. Be careful here! Climbing down is definitely more difficult than climbing up.

done photo SANY0118_zps911b0b1b.jpg

We backtracked and descended the mountain for an hour until we reached the campsite meadow. See that high limestone cliff? Way below that is Lumanoy Cave.

done photo SANY0121_zps7b313b1b.jpg

Turning right from the meadow, we came upon this fallen tree near the pathway to the cave. We rested here for a moment while preparing our headlamps.

done photo 19711_3923497300595_1044911605_n_zps5873b945.jpg

Some of our team members decided to stay by the tree, so we left our packs under their care. The rest of the group walked down the short trail that led to the small mouth of Lumanoy Cave.

done photo DSC03265_zps3095e7b0.jpg

The entrance of Lumanoy Cave is small and dark. However, the feeling of mystery, danger, and adventure is not diminished.

done photo SANY0083_1800x2400_zps8b727153.jpg

The start of the descent immediately involved a near-vertical climb down a rock “tongue.”

done photo 579825_3923497220593_682803177_n_zps2d41558f.jpg

Unspoiled stalagmites hang from the cave’s roof like tattered curtains.

done photo 72660_3923499060639_1891405059_n_zps1ba3ccb0.jpg

Descending carefully into the dark abyss with care. Yes, you need to be extra careful here because . . .

done photo 71475_3923505820808_1066029869_n_zps47ee9297.jpg

. . . at your right is this! At the bottom of that chasm is a pool of dark water whose depth is still yet to be measured.

done photo 11180_3923502500725_980196514_n_zpsba3744a2.jpg

Young speleothems formed after hundreds of years of sediment accumulation. Nature moves in slow, gradual, and mysterious ways.

done photo 404801_3923499740656_1863147463_n_zps22c3a2ed.jpg

We didn’t stay long inside Lumanoy Cave although some of us did want to explore a passageway down the abyss. We have told the habal-habal drivers to pick us up at 3:00 PM. By the time we went inside the cave, it was already close to 3:00 PM. Thus, we exited the cave and headed back to Sitio Kampanya where the drivers patiently waited for us.

done photo DSC03312_zpsf0a79dbc.jpg

Kudos to the brave summiteers of Mt. Kapayas!

done photo 69651_3923483660254_164049498_n_zps56ab0594.jpg

* Special thanks to Sir Ronald Ramiso for some of the excellent photos.

Suggested Itinerary for a Day Trek:

5:30 AM – meetup at Pocherohan/Alberto’s Pizza Mandaue
6:00 AM – ETD Mandaue, going to Catmon
8:30 AM – ETA Catmon Municipal Hall, register at Municipal Hall or police station, negotiate habal-habal ride
9:00 AM – ETD Catmon Proper for Sitio Kampanya, Brgy. Kabangkaya jump-off
10:30 AM – ETA Sitio Kampanya, Brgy. Kabangkaya jump-off
10:45 AM – briefing, refill water, start trek
12:00 PM – ETA Torre (Mt. Kapayas summit)
12:30 PM – lunch at the Torre
1:00 PM – ETD Torre
2:00 PM – ETA Lumanoy Cave, explore cave
2:45 PM – Exit Lumanoy Cave
4:00 PM – ETA Sitio Kampanya jump-off
4:15 PM – ETD Sitio Kampanya
5:30 PM – ETA Highway and back to Cebu

Estimated Budget Per Person
P70 – Ceres Bus Mandaue to Catmon
P70 – Ceres Bus Catmon to Mandaue
P120 – habal habal ride from Catmon to Sitio Kampanya
P120 – habal habal ride from Sitio Kampanya to Catmon
TBC (to be computed, depends on the number of participants) – guide fee

Total Estimated Budget – P550

Tips:

1. A Mt. Kapayas climb is best enjoyed with a small team of 3 to 10 people.

2. For guideship services, please contact Kyno Dumlao (0939-6586473) or Carlo Piezas Genovia (0927-3245456 or 0943-2672587). Please negotiate the rate with them.

3. If you wish to procure a local guide, inform Catmon Vice Manager Iris Ballon of your intention to climb Mt. Kapayas. She will assist in coordinating a local guide in Lumanoy for you. At Sitio Lumanoy, look for Ronald Roiles or Rey to guide you to Torre and Lumanoy Cave.

4. The mountain is located at the Central Northern part of Cebu, which is quite remote. The road to Sitio Kampanya is 20 kilometers from the highway.

5.  The budget for a Mt. Kapayas day trek is relatively high due to the high price of the habal-habal fare. That’s because the road to Sitio Kampanya is almost impassable. During rainy season, the road turns into a canal of mud; and during dry season, an extremely rocky, dusty path. In fact, even certain 4X4 vehicles would be unable to traverse the entire length of the road. The habal-habal is the surest, quickest way to reach the jump-off. Considering that the extremely rough terrain can damage their motorcycles, habal-habal drivers are often reluctant to bring you to Sitio Kampanya. Be ready to disembark and hike at certain points (mostly steep, extremely rocky or muddy roads) to allow the drivers to negotiate the rough terrain.

6. Make sure you negotiate with the habal-habal drivers to either wait for you at Sitio Kampanya or to fetch you there at a certain time. That’s because there are hardly any habal-habal drivers to take you back to Catmon if you depart from Sitio Kampanya. If the drivers are not willing to wait or fetch you, you need to hike to Baranggay Agsuwao, which is more than an hour of trekking from the jump-off. Then, you can take a habal-habal from Baranggay Agsuwaw back to Catmon proper.

7. If you bring a 4-wheeled vehicle, you may have to park your vehicle at Baranggay Agsuwaw (you can give a little tip to a local to watch over your vehicle). Also, this is the farthest point that most habal-habal drivers from the city are willing to take you. Then, you can hike to Sitio Kampanya following the road. The catch here is that it takes 2 hours to reach the jump-off point.

8. Pack light but do bring the following

* water (at least 3 liters)
* trekking attire
* trekking shoes (terrain is rocky)
* umbrella, hat, or sarong (terrain is exposed and hot)
* packed lunch
* trail snack
* helmet (protection for caving)
* headlamp (for caving)
* rain gear (in case of bad weather)
* extra money for emergencies

9. Wear good-quality trekking shoes with an aggressive tread. The trail is quite rocky, and your shoes will definitely need to endure a good beating.

10. Wear arm guards and leg guards to protect yourself from sun and the plants that can scratch your skin.

11. Take salt tablets or beverages that are filled with ions (e.g. Gatorade, coconut water, etc) besides water. The hot sun and the steep ascent can squeeze the fluids off you. When you lose enough ions and salts through your sweat, you will suffer cramps. Remedy cramps by resting for a while and eat salt to replenish the ions you lost.

12. Bring energy-rich trail food such as nuts, crackers, bread, and bananas.

13. You can camp at the meadow at the mountain’s shoulder. The ground is grassy and flat, providing a really comfortable bed.

14. Be sure to watch your footing when you ascend the Torre as it involves a bit of rock climbing. There are numerous handholds and footholds that make the climb relatively easy. Still, be careful of loose holds and slippery ledges.

15. Lumanoy Cave is relatively unexplored. Exercise extreme caution when you enter the cave because to your immediate left from the entrance is a deep, 30-foot chasm that leads to a vast underground pool. The depth of this body of water is not yet ascertained. There are deeper passages in the cave worth exploring, but be sure you bring adequate caving gear and a professional spelunker with you.

Categories: Mountaineering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Post navigation

20 thoughts on “Mt. Kapayas and Lumanoy Cave: An Adventure Up North

  1. weeeh! Thanks a lot Sr Gian and Ate Sheila! Morey and I loved the adventure!

  2. nice detailed info sir.

  3. very informative thread sir.

  4. nice!!!

  5. Great blog post thanks for posting

  6. Nindota ani sakaon ui.. Nice post!

    • Hi Sir Leandro,

      Thanks, sir. Yes, it’s a really nice mountain to climb. Ang problema lang ani sir is that mahal ang iyang fare, especially the habal-habal. It’s the most expensive dayhike we ever had.

  7. thelighttraveler

    Wow! What an adrenaline-filled adventure – a bumpy ride, then trekking and rock climbing to a magnificent view!

    Welcome to PTB, by the way. =)

  8. Xayide

    Hello Sir Gian and Mam Sheila,
    mag ask unta ko sa range sa guide fee nila…and ang sa habal-habal only one per motorcycle? or pwede duha?
    and then ang guides na gi recommend ninyo diri (Kyno and Carlo) are they locals from Catmon or Brgy. Kampanya? Thanks to this informative blog, i’m itching to climb :)

    • Hi Xayide,

      Actually, there is no fixed guide fee; we think P300 to P500 will be a good benchmark. Sa habal-habal, pwede duha aron ma share ang gasto.

      Kyno is a local in Catmon proper while Carlo is from Lapu Lapu. You can contact either of them para maka guide ninyo. If di ninyo ma contact sila, you can follow Tip #3 and secure a guide there.

      Nice na nga mountain. :)

      Gian and Sheila

  9. A great adventure starts when you know where you start from.

  10. want to visit this peak….soon………………………

    • Hi Ruel,

      Thanks for visiting our blog.Yup, it’s a very nice mountain. Just be prepared for a very rough motorcycle ride and difficulty of securing transport. Also, we would advice you to negotiate with the habal-habal drivers to wait for you or fetch you after your climb since it would most likely be very difficult to secure a motorcycle going back to Catmon proper.

  11. mika

    nice info. wish i could join on ur climb sometime

    • Hi Mika,

      Sure! You are welcome to join us. Just drop us a message through our Contact Us form (under the About Team Sweetie tag) or send us a message in our Adrenaline Romance Facebook page.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,220 other followers

%d bloggers like this: