El Nido allures travelers with its stunning island hopping tours, diving, and serene beauty. After you have scratched these off your to-do list and are looking for something a bit more adventurous to do, you should look into climbing up one of the mammoth limestone cliffs that surround El Nido town proper. Before travelling to El Nido I had read about others who had hiked up Mt. Taraw and saw how breathtaking the views were. Afterwards, I knew this was something I had to do while I was here.
Unlike island hopping tour packages, which are advertised at every turn, I had to go in search of a tour group that offered this climb. I went to a few places; some people said that their company did not do the climb, while others emphasized the difficulty in the climb and almost seemed to steer me away from doing it. Regardless of the challenge, I was set on climbing up.
Unfortunately, I had to climb up solo as my friend had kicked coral on one of our island hopping tours and her foot was swollen and bandaged up. Because I was going up alone, it was 500 PHP. Really quite cheap considering I had my very own tour guide.
I was picked up outside of my homestay just after 6:00 am on my last day in El Nido. We motorbiked through a local village to the starting point of the climb. As soon as I looked upon the mountain of rocks I initially faced, I knew this was not going to be a walk in the park.
I have gone on a number of hikes in Hong Kong and am in good physical shape, but this climb was unlike anything I have ever done before. Not only was it extremely physically demanding (I could not believe the amount of sweat just pouring off of me), but it was very dangerous. There was jagged limestone we had to climb over and pull ourselves up to, and relatively no walking parts; the entire hour or so was spent climbing up limestone. Despite how difficult the climb up was, the views once we reached the top made the journey well worth it. The sun was just coming out from behind the mountains as we stood at the top, looking over the town of El Nido. Like I mentioned before, this experience was unlike any other I have ever done and I would do it again in an instant.
After we spent 15 or so minutes up top, we began our descent down. I figured this was going to be easier than climbing up, but it was actually quite the opposite. I found climbing down to be much more frightening and I actually cut my knee up pretty good on a jagged rock (still have the scar months afterwards). Near the end of the climb I was quite physically exhausted and my legs were beginning to shake, probably in part because I was scared I’d take a wrong step and plummet to my untimely demise.
Thankfully, I managed to evade any serious injury, though given the difficulty of this climb I bet there are many people who are either unable to make it up or who get hurt to some degree. In retrospect, doing this climb with no form of aid (ie harness, etc) may not have been the brightest idea, but for me it was worth every drop of sweat. I would highly recommend climbing Mt. Taraw if you are planning a trip to El Nido on the basis that you are physically fit and/or have done a fair bit of hiking/rock climbing. Just make sure you have good travel insurance!
My other adventures in Palawan:
Things To Do In Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Puerto Princesa Palawan: Accommodation & Aimless Wanderings
Ugong Rock Caving & Zipline: Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Puerto Princesa Underground River: One Of The New 7 Natural Wonders Of The World
Accommodation In El Nido, Philippines
A Walk Around The Little Town Of El Nido, Palawan: Restaurants, Bars, & Beaches
El Nido Island Hopping Tour A
El Nido Island Hopping Tour C
The Sunset On Corong Corong Beach, El Nido