Published: May 11th 2011April 4th 2011
There is a week long convention in the city of Legazpi, court judges or something that made it difficult for us to find a hotel/GH to stay in, going around and round, we decided to check out Xandra hotel in downtown, people told us it was crap but they have available rooms and it wasn't too bad at all in the end, we had a big room with toilet. We already started to get hounded by this guy who claims to be a guide for Mayon, we told him we arranged something already but he keeps lingering around so we just have to learn to ignore him. We went for a walk to the LCC mall and have late lunch there, we were supposed to meet this dude , a Mayon guide in the hopes we can utilize him for a fair price. this guy made us wait and wait at the hotel, until finally 2 hours later he appeared in our door. he started yapping about him just coming back down from the mountain having guided Austrians, Canadians up the volcano, yeah yeah, we said let's talk business, how much is the fee for a day hike? 3,000 PHP! I
told him the man who recommended him from Donsol told us we can get him for 500 PHP each person, appalled at the ludicrous prices we dismissed him and thanked him for his time, then he started yapping about his relatives in the USA, with this forced American accent, showing us fotos of his clients that climbed Mayon, we were confused as it has nothing to do with our current conversation that being his guide fee.
We told him we will do it ourselves, then he started to discourage us, difficult to get to the foot of the mountain to where the trail starts, expensive to hire a van that will take us there etc. etc. Till as stubborn as usual, bless him confidently convinced me and Matthias we can do it ourselves and we threw the guide out of our room and we went shopping for snacks for the impending climb the next day.
The reception clerk was very unfriendly, every inquiries I make, he answered impatiently, so I gave up. We know we have to get to a village called Santo Domingo so we will rent a trike or take the jeep, we'll see... I bought mosquito
coils for the night as mozzies started to fly about in our room even if the a/c is on,there are holes in the window and we can't seal it. I lit up 3! Till extinguished them all before bed time, claiming it was irritating his nostrils. Early rise for us, we stood across the hotel and waited for some trike to come along to hire, then a jeepney stops and asked us where we are headed to and the friendly driver and passengers told us to get in and they will drop us to the place where we can take a jeep to Santo Domingo. So we took another jeepney, a local woman was going the same way so we tagged along with her. dropped at Santo Domingo town, we were told we can take a trike to the base of the mountain where there is a Forest park or something at the entrance where we need to register for the hike. The trike drivers advised us instead to walk, it's only about half hour walk they said and the roads are bumpy, we might be uncomfortable with the trike.,So walk we did along the way encountering friendly locals living
in the area, we only paid less than 50 PHP each to get here as opposed to the 1,500PHP RT van we were told by guides as mandatory or we'll get lost! suckers!
At the forest park entrance, we wrote our names at the book and paid 15 PHP each, then the young man pointed the trails to camp 1, then said or you can follow any trail if you'd like, goodluck! he said with a smile! We followed the trail for 5 minutes then comes out to a dry river bed, i noticed right away that the trail back if you look from the river bed is hidden by bushes, the white arrow marks painted on rocks were difficult to find so I took a foto of a landmark to help us remember where to turn and catch the trail on the way back. from here on we can't find directions, you can go wherever you want. our goal was to get to camp 1, we decided to have breakfast near some huge rocks, then it started to drizzle, we can see the top every cloud clearing, looks like it has some snow but actually just ashes at
the mouth of the volcano. Rain stopped we continued on, the sun is out again in full force, we haven't a clue where to go so we decided to just follow the river and see where it'll take us. The trail wasnt bad, just difficult to walk on due to sand,then we started climbing boulders as we keep going up and up, slippery in parts, the scenery was nice, jungles, we hear birds singing, rested couple times and after hiking maybe couple hours we reached the end of the line for us as the next climb was too much for us, we decided to stop there and rest then headed back, which was quite difficult,I was on my bum most of the time trying to keep myself from sliding down rocks. Till bruised the back of his calf muscle when he got hit by a rock when he stepped on it, other than that we made it back to the base of the river bed.
Very tired and exhausted we dragged ourselves to walk the sandy dry bed and in the corner of our eyes we saw a what appears to be a hidden trail that we missed going
to the jungle, we surmised it must be the trail to camp 1 but too late now we are all tired, it is well hidden, I stopped and made rock towers near it to guide the next trekkers going at it without guides. We reckon to preserve their trade, the guide purposely hid the trails so people will have difficult time doing it themselves, I think the people running the forest park has to make proper trail signs, that's what the 15 pesos fee is for!!! We could not find the trail back right away and took a wrong one then I remembered the landmark I took a foto of, found the arrows and we made it back, we could have also just followed the loud music blaring from the entrance, we walked back exhausted towards the road, we stopped at a small store and had a cold drink before heading back to town.
In the eve we got pestered by the guides again as we use the wifi in the lobby, we told them we found camp one even if we didn't, they looked very surprised and did not say anything, the other dude started showing Mayon trek
fotos again to us, annoyed I told him off and he shut up. dinner was at this nice restaurant, not in the LP book, looks new but food was delicious, mainly seafoods. After the dinner splurge we headed back for the well deserved rest.
There are more photos below