Mindanao, Philippines is Home to the Largest Pygmy Forest in the World

Meet the 6th UNESCO world heritage site in the Philippines, Mount Hamiguitan. It’s home to the largest pygmy forest in the world, boasting 600 hectares of bonsai or dwarf trees. This mountain is also a sanctuary of thousands of flora and fauna, some of them quite rare and only found in the Philippines. It stands at 1620 MASL, which doesn’t come close to the towering Mt. Apo but it’s almost as difficult to climb (it’s rated a 6/9 difficulty, while Mt. Apo is at 7/9.)

 

It’s a guided trek, heavily regulated by tourism officials. It’s protected against harmful activities such as logging and mining.  Only 50 people are allowed to trek every month to help preserve the area. Walk-in hikes are strictly prohibited, so it’s best to secure a permit in advance if you’d like to visit this trail.

 

What you can find in Mt. Hamiguitan

The mountain is home to creatures of the forest you cannot find anywhere else in the world.  You’ll find a diverse species of birds, insects, fruit bats, among others.  If luck permits and your eyes are sharp, you might catch a wild tarsier or Philippine eagle hiding in plain sight.

 

 

Finding Miniature Trees in the Rare Pygmy Forest

The main feature is a colony of pygmy trees that stand no taller than around 4 feet— standing amongst them makes you feel a bit larger than life. A pygmy forest is a rare kind of ecosystem that occurs in high elevations, with poor soil conditions (in this case, caused by the volcanic soil.) Don’t be fooled by the stature of the trees, some of them are more than 100 years old. 

 

 

Things to remember:

  1. This climb is not for the faint of heart. It will take 11-hour treks in a span of 3 days to complete this hike. It takes physical and mental strength to reach the summit, so prepare accordingly before you set out on this hike.
  2. Secure a guide. Guides are required to climb Mount Hamiguitan. There must be 1 guide for every 5 climbers, and you can reach them with the help of local tourism officials.
  3. Do not pick/disturb the plants. Many of the plants in Mount Hamiguitan are threatened species, so avoid picking them.
  4. Respect and follow rules/restrictions. Great efforts are made to preserve the area, so if you plan to visit please respect the rules and ordinances. Bring a reusable water container, do not disturb the flora and fauna, and leave no trace.

 

Pinoy Mountaineer provides a great background on Mount Hamiguitan and an itinerary you can follow.

If you’re interested to climb, you can contact Clint Michael Cleofe: clintmichaelcleofe@gmail.com

 

Watch our climb in Mt. Hamiguitan:

Mount Hamiguitan is definitely a climb you should try at least once in your life. Watch our journey up the mountain and see for yourself!

 

Erwan Heussaff
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