A Guide to the Mounts Banahaw–San Cristobal Protected Landscape Area

Whether you’re a foreigner who’s spending his vacation in the Philippines or a Filipino who’d like to enjoy local tourism, you’re probably planning to check out some of the most popular spots in the country. Boracay, Baguio, Coron, El Nido, Puerto Princesa — these might be a few of the places in your Must-Visit List. But take note that these aren’t the only destinations you can go to. If you want to make your Philippine trip complete, you’ll need to drop by the Mounts Banahaw–San Cristobal Protected Landscape Park.

Basic Facts

The park sits at the border between Quezon and Laguna in the Calabarzon region. It covers almost 11,000 hectares of land and is considered to be the second biggest protected area in the region.

The park is named after the two volcanoes that are found in the area: Mount Banahaw and Mount San Cristobal. The former stands more than 2,000 meters above sea level and is a favorite among mountain climbers in Manila because of its elevation and its proximity to the capital. It’s also considered to be a holy mountain by the locals and therefore attracts lots of pilgrims every year. San Cristobal, meanwhile, is a smaller volcano, reaching only 1,470 meters above sea level. The locals consider it the “Devil’s Mountain” and see it as the opposite of Mount Banahaw.

Mt. Banahaw Image source: portal.calabarzon.denr.gov.ph
Mt. Banahaw Image source: portal.calabarzon.denr.gov.ph

Flora and Fauna

The park has been declared a protected area because of its rich biodiversity. It’s home to several species that are endemic to the Philippines, including the Philippine warty pig, the small Luzon forest mouse, the Philippine pygmy fruit bat, and the Luzon fruit bat. These animals are considered to be threatened species because they are losing their natural habitat.

Many threatened birds also consider the park to be their home. These birds include the Philippine cockatoo, the flame-breasted fruit dove, the Philippine eagle, and the Philippine eagle-owl.

Philippine Eagle-Owl Image source: michael agustin/Creative Commons
Philippine Eagle-Owl Image source: michael agustin/Creative Commons

Activities in the Area

There are lots of things you can do when you visit the Mounts Banahaw–San Cristobal Protected Landscape Park. If you’re an avid mountaineer, for example, you can take this chance to climb Mount Banahaw and join the ranks of those who have scaled its peak. Depending on the trail you’ll take (there are four major trails to choose from), your hike can take around five to nine hours. So, before your trip, make sure you’re in great physical condition and have the strength and endurance to finish the climb.

Image source: portal.calabarzon.denr.gov.ph
Image source: portal.calabarzon.denr.gov.ph

If you’re not into mountain climbing, there’s no need to fret since there are many other options to choose from. You can opt to go bird watching or observe the local mammals in their natural habitat. To learn more about the local culture, you can check out the shrines that are dotted throughout the area, including the caves that have been turned into holy places. If you’re eager for a swim, check out the springs and waterfalls in the area and go for a quick dip.

With these fun attractions and activities, you’re probably excited to start planning your trip to the Mounts Banahaw–San Cristobal Protected Landscape Park. Don’t worry since getting there isn’t difficult! If you’re starting your vacation in Manila, you can take a bus to Laguna or Quezon or drive your own car (the journey takes around two to three hours). Once you arrive in either of these provinces, it’s easy to find your way to the park.

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