El Nido, Spanish for “The Nest”, is a beach & island-lover’s paradise on the northern end of Palawan island in the Philippines. El Nido is a great destination and it’s still somewhat off the beaten-path… but it’s continuing to grow, and more and more travelers are hearing about it. There’s ump-teen million tour companies lined up in the city and cruising the beach, looking for guests. Some are well-established, some not so much. Every local person “knows a guy” who can make your adventure and island-hopping dreams come true. Therefore, especially in low-season, don’t worry too much about planning every detail ahead of time. Show up in El Nido, ask around, walk around and inquire… and you’ll be set up in no-time.
I could write a few posts about how cool El Nido and the island-hopping tours are. I could give several recommendations on where to stay and what to do… but the focus of this blog is about hiking and trekking adventures, so I’ll refrain from the details of these other (amazing) things we did during our one-week stay in El Nido.
Instead, I’ll focus my attention on our last-minute decision to go cliff climbing. Cliff climbing? Yes – it’s not quite rock-climbing… but it’s not a simple hike/climb either. There’s technical sections of rock climbing, but ropes and harnesses aren’t needed. I don’t remember a flat and easy section. At all. Therefore, indeed, I think the best name to describe this experience is cliff climbing. Think of it as constantly using your hands and balance to hop/skip and pull yourself up the mountain. Carefully.
The bad news was that it was pretty cloudy and rainy when we started at 8am – but we didn’t let that derail our plans to get to the top. The good news is that we had an awesome, friendly guide named Niko. A guide is, in my opinion, 100% necessary to find the trail and get you to the top (350p per person). Because it was raining, we kept our phones hidden in plastic bags to keep them protected. As a result, I have exactly zero pictures of the trail to the top (sorry).
BUT, more good news is that after the 50 minute scramble to the top, the clouds parted for 15 minutes, allowing us to capture some pictures! Sitting high atop the town of El Nido was really, really amazing.
I’m sure you’ll agree?
The top of the cliffs consisted of a few, small, uneven and sharp rocks… but we found a little patch for a picture (thanks to Niko, quite the guide/photographer).
After a couple of pictures and time to catch our breath, it started sprinkling (and then raining hard) again, so we packed up and safely made our way back down the mountain. In total, it takes about 2.5 – 4 hours round-trip, depending on your speed. The starting point is right in town, depending on who you book with.
Interested in doing this yourself when going to El Nido? You can ask around, but we found the SeaHorse tour agency to be very helpful, honest and straightforward. They’re on the main road along the beach, just look for the SeaHorse sign (can’t miss it). If you’re up for a challenge and some great views of El Nido, I’d highly recommend spending a few hours one morning while in El Nido… I think you’ll enjoy it!
As always, if you have questions/comments/concerns, drop me a line.