Climbing Mt Taraw (aka Taraw Peak aka Taraw Cliff) in El Nido in the Philippines shouldn’t be taken lightly. While the views from the top are incredible, it is definitely a very physically demanding and dangerous climb. Please be aware people have died trying to climb to the top, and many more have injured themselves.
The climb starts off in the centre of town. Your guide will lead you through a maze of alleyways, in-between people’s houses, before you arrive at the base of the mountain. From here it’s 230 metres more or less straight up. Getting to the top takes about 1 to 1.5 hours.
Although you don’t need any climbing experience, the limestone rocks are very sharp and some parts are very steep. You will literally need to heave yourself up; carefully holding onto the rocks and making sure you don’t slip. There aren’t any ropes and the path isn’t clear, so it’s best to just go slow and follow your guide’s foot and hand placement.
There are a couple of places where you’re walking across the tips of the limestone rocks and balancing. When you get to the top the views of the whole bay are breathtaking. The top is filled with more limestone rocks and there isn’t really any flat section so caution still needs to be maintained.
After about 20 minutes at the top, it’s time to come back down which takes 30 to 45 minutes. Don’t be fooled – the climb down can be just as dangerous. It can be harder on the knees and sometimes the footholds aren’t as easy to see as you’re going backwards.
That said, the climb is very rewarding and very achievable if you’re patient, reasonably fit and follow the tips below. It’s probably not wise to climb if you have a severe fear of heights or have mobility issues. I would say the climb is more similar to actual rock climbing than hiking.
When I did it in 2015, I reached the top dripping in sweat. I was 27 at the time and quite fit but still felt a little unsafe at times. I found coming down a little more challenging which required more of my strength.
When my father in his 60s asked for my opinion on whether he should climb it or not, I advised against it. I was worried that he’d be more likely to slip and severely injure himself or worse.
At the end of the day it’s your decision on whether you wish to climb it or not. This post isn’t designed to discourage others, but rather to inform and educate.
One more thing to consider, El Nido only has limited medical facilities. Patients requiring more complex medical services are either flown to Manila or Puerto Princesa from El Nido or taken to the Taytay District Hospital, which is about 55 kilometers away.
Tips for the climb:
- Hire a guide. For P200-500 per person it is well worth it. It would be very hard to reach the top independently as there aren’t any signs or clear paths. Plus if anything goes wrong your guide would be able to get help much quicker than any of your travel companions;
- Wear good, sturdy shoes with a thick sole;
- Never attempt the climb if it’s raining or looks like it will rain – the limestone rocks get very slippery when wet;
- Take at least 1 litre of water/Gatorade and some light snacks for energy like bananas or nuts;
- Start the climb early before sunrise to avoid the heat. A good time to start is around 5am, which means you would finish up around 8am, leaving plenty of time to go island hopping afterwards.
Have you climbed Mt Taraw or are you planning to climb it? Share your thoughts/experiences in the comments section below!