A Week into the Wild: What We Found in Walking Across Aklan and Antique Mountain Ranges for 7 Days

By: Ritchel C. Cahilig

More than the famous powdery white sand beach of Boracay Island, many parts of Aklan remain hidden and untouched. The province of Aklan, particularly the towns of Libacao and Madalag, is home to numerous unexplored mountain ranges; a potential mountaineering destination in the country. The highest mountain in Aklan, Mt. Nausan (locals in sitio Mananggad call it Mt. Maylomay), has just been explored by AMSI (Antique Mountaineering Society Inc.) in April 9, 2017 which they named 'Mt. Nausang.' Mount Nausan is 1,464 MASL. It's summit is located in barangay Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan and it’s ranges extend up to Oyang, Libacao, Aklan. Inspired by the exploration of AMSI in Mt. Nausan, Richard and I attempted a hike traversing Mt. Nausan from its ranges in Libacao, Aklan to it’s summit in Panipiason, Madalag and connect it to Mt. Madjaas in Antique. The hike was our personal endeavor, fuelled by our strong passion for exploration.

We traveled to barangay Oyang, Libacao, Aklan to meet with our guides and started our hike from there. While we are scaling the mountains of Libacao, our expedition didn’t go well as planned. We were unable to find a trail from Mt. Nausan going to Mt. Madjaas. Due to terrain difficulty, we had to cut our expedition and cross from Libacao to Madalag and hike Mt. Nausan in Panipiason side. After our descent, we continued our hike to Mt. Madjaas and descended in Barangay Osorio, Culasi, Antique. We spent a total of seven (7) days of arduous walking in the jungles and mountains of Central Panay to complete our journey. Our experience from the unexplored ranges of Libacao to the highest pristine mountain of Aklan (Mt. Nausan) in Madalag and traversing the Aklan mountain ranges to reach the summit of the highest and majestic mountain of Antique (Mt. Madjaas) in seven days were, by far, the BEST DAYS OF OUR LIVES as Akeanon mountaineers.

We've seen the unimaginable treasures hidden in the wilderness, the richness of the flora and fauna, and spectacular views atop the highest peaks. We've gone through death-defying, nerve-racking, don't-you-slip boulders, cliffs, knife edges, rocks, and overhangs. We've slept in huts, a cave, and under the canopy of trees in the middle of a rainforest and overcame the freaking coldness of the night. We've trekked in the evening and in dawn. We've smiled and laughed at our slips, falls, and rolls amidst all the mud, sweat, bites, scratches, sprains, and bruises. We've struggled against leeches and insects. We've survived the heavy rains and fogs. We've immersed in the diverse cultures of our local guides and the communities we passed through. We've learned their dialects and ways and ate with them like a family as they treated us as their own. And the best thing that happened to us was - we've found in nature the happiness that we deserve.