In January 2010, a group of initiative individuals from Sabangan went on a excursion to Apa and decided to develop the site as a camp site and base for Mount Kalawitan tours. The site is perfect for birdwatching, camping and exploring the nature at the foot of our mountain, one of the highest in the Philippines.

The work started immediately in January with the construction of proper facilities for guests and with the repairing of the hunters hut. We are also proud on the little museum we could established.

In February, a bird scientist from Alaska Museum used the camp for his research. Many Sabangan residents also went to the place and enjoyed a refreshing bath in the Capangdanan river and relaxing days or bonfires.

In April, we could finally open the foot path up to Mount Kalawitan, which reaches 2714 m above sea level (ps. the hight reading from Map was later corrected to 2668 m according to Google Earth). Five mountaineers from Switzerland were our first guest on top of the majestic mountain.

We call us the Friends of Apa, because all this work is done on our own initiaite and means, just because we are fascinated about the place and like to share this little paradise with others.

The Friends of Apa are
– Ernesto Bondad, Councilor Sabangan
– Tina Tuazen, Sabangan and Japan
– Rolf Boller and Pia Fleischlin, environment officers of SADC, Sabangan and Switzerland
– Domidor, PNP Officer Sabangan

The SABANGAN MOUNTAIN GUIDE SCHOOL was founded in September 2010 on request of the guides of Apa Campsite and Mount Kalawitan. 17 candidates attended the monthly training day at the Panorama Viewpoint. Lecturers are local and external experts in mountaineering, first aid, environment and organisation. All of them are familiar with Mt. Kalawitan or the Sabangan ecotourism activities.

More history can be read in the guest book placed at the Sabangan ViewPoint…
The following is the digitized copy of the hand written comments
in the visitor’s guest book of Apa Campsite and Mt. Kalawitan.

Download the Guest Book as PDF

February 18.-20. 2011

“APA CAMPSITE IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!! Good food, good people.. very unforgettable EXPERIENCE! We enjoyed the home grown lettuce. MANY THANKS TO ROLF who helped the villagers to establish it. SIR BONDAD for letting stay in the camp. TO V ILLAGERS who gave us a warm welcome. TO COFFE SHOP. TO OUR COOK who made us experience their delicacy. MOST TO OUR GUIDES, chester Rogel & jerry, who patiently waited for us and helped us enjoy our journey. More power to APA CAMPSITE!!.”By:TONI
“Thank you for the: great food, great camp & a wonderful Mt. Kalawitan Experience!!.”By: JOD
“WE SURVIVED MT. KALAWITAN, thank you to our guides for an unforgettable experience!!”By: KIM &TED’S MOUNTAINOUS JOURNEY
Thanks for the warm welcome (WE SURVIVED!) By MAYO

a taste of the most simple . . . the most beautiful

by Ted Geronimo on Monday, 07 March 2011 at 14:25 (Facebook)

a couple of weekends ago i was able to get the chance to go climbing again. it was in sabangan, mountain province. the mountain’s name: mt. kalawitan.

and so familiar questions were asked . . . why do i (still) go climbing? why do i bear 8-12 hour land trips only to walk the same amount of time up a mountain that won’t give a mountain rat’s ass if i make it or not?

Copy of facebook note http://www.facebook.com/notes/ted-geronimo/a-taste-of-the-most-simple-the-most-beautiful/10150101107397602

This was a very special trip to Apa and Mt. Kalawitan, and hopefully an eye opener for all…

Guests: May Agana, Ted Geronimo, Jod (Joseph Dennis) Reyes, Geofrey Jerome Yan, Kim Barloso, Toni Fay Reyes
Guides: Chester Tumbaga, Jerry Macario, Rogel Peningeo

February 5.-7. 2011

This is the comment of Sir Martin Cortez on Facebook. He organized a trip to Mt. Kalawitan with 10 mountaineers.

Beautiful Kalawitan

By Suh Martin Cortez •( http://www.facebook.com/Sir.Martin.Cortez)

Kalawitan is one of the highest peaks in the country and the hike to its summit boasts a combination of amazing views of the valley, pine forests (reminiscent of Pulag’s Akiki trail), mossy forests (comparable to Napulauan) and other high peaks of the north.

But what sets this mountain apart is the unique guideship system that makes the hiking experience even more memorable – you get to experience the culture through their hospitality. This is definitely somewhere I want to visit again and again.

My big thanks to those who joined me during the 3-day tour and those who helped us organize it (Gideon, Rolf and the kind people of Sabangan).


Comment of Gideon Lasco: Congratulations Sir Martin and team! Mt. Kalawitan is really a nice place and I’m glad you enjoyed it. Great shots too!


Comment of Suh Martin Cortez ‎@derek; this is in sabangan, mt. province. the jump-off is 129km from Baguio – around 5hrs by bus. You can get here via bontoc or via baguio. i plan to organize another hike to this mountain sometime in april. you guys are welcome to join if you want. 😀

Guests:Martin D. Cortez, Julian Catyero, Vera Tanoo G., Elaine Tobias, Churchill Romaneses, Muammhr Bin Edres, Luz Closa, Jo Steven, Carl Maraton, Archie Quis Morio
Guides:Roger Oplawen, Rogell Peningeo, Mantel Bangayan, Ronald Ricarte, J-R Dao, Joel Langagan
Organizer: Martin D. Cortez, Ernesto Bondad

January 15. – 17. 2011

(text still to be transferred from guest book)

Visitors: Darryl Calngan P., Jefferson Lizardo T., Elphick Pit-og
Guide: Roger Oplawan

January 10-12

Four swiss mountaineers and a Filipino mountaineer, the “pinoymountaineer.com” enjoyed the intercultural exchange with the Sabangan guides and had a happy climb to Mt. Kalawitan.
Hiking matters #119: Blogging live from Mt. Kalawitan after a successful summit bid!
Extracts from the trip report on http://www.pinoymountaineer.com

“ I am back in Apa campsite after a successful climb up Mt. Kalawitan, the fourth highest mountain in Luzon (after Pulag, Tabayoc, and Timbac). I joined a group of Swiss hikers: Helen, Philippe, Mia, Carol; and three guides from Sabangan accompanied us: Roger, Jerry, and Chester. It was a very nice experience! Thanks to Rolf and Pia, Swiss volunteers in Sabangan, for organizing the Mt. Kalawitan service together with the people of the town.

Alternative mode of camping: The Mt. Kalawitan setup follows a system that Filipino hikers may find unconventional. There is no need to bring a tent, or food, because you can stay in shelters at Apa Campsite and the guides prepare Igorot-style food like salted pork (utag), beans, and a lot of freshly-harvested vegetables. The guides are very nice. For a change, and also out of respect for their system, hikers are encouraged to just welcome this alternative setup. “

See their wonderful pictures made by Guideon

Guests: Helen Trautvetter, Carole Imboden, Philipp Imboden, Mia Peterhans, Guideon LascoGuides: Chester Tumbaga, Jerry Macario, Roger Oplawan
Organizer: Pia Fleischlin, Rolf Boller

January 4, 2011

“My visit to my mother;s home town has been an enjoyable experience but even more so because of my trek to Apa which was absolutly amazing! Defeinately something i will tell my friends at home about and encourage them to visit. Much praise for the founders of this experience. It has opened my eyes to another side of Mountain Life and that of my extended family.”

Guests: Kelly and Angelika Maddox, Australia
Guides: Chester Tumbaga, Sir Ernesto Bondad

December 31, 2010

“Thank you very much for guiding me to Apa. I enjoyed being introduced to the wonderful project of the Sabangan people. It is a beautiful landscape. I hope many more people can visit APA and benefit from your efforts for ecotorusim. Thanks to all friends of APA. Barbara Panther, Germany; kadana ni Martin Jaeggi, Teng-ab.”

Guest: Barbara Panther, Germany, kadana ni Mratin Jaeggi, Teng-ab.”
Guide: Roger Oplawan

Dezember 27 – 29, 2010

“Thank you very much for the warm welcome. We enjoyed our stay here. Until next time!”

Lek and companions were the fist mountaineer group who stayed overnight on top of Mt. Kalawitan at a chilly 7.8 degree celsius. Congratulation!!
Guest: Vhogte Cagaanan, Emeraldo Chiu, Voel Fontanilla, Angelica Gutay, Evelyn Arinto
Guide: Chester “Ampoy” Tumbaga, Roger Oplawan, Hector “Mantel” Bang-oyan
Organizer/Helpers: Marcial B. Santos, Pia Fleischlin, Rolf Boller

group on top of Mt. Kalawitan 2714 m Xmas 2010

Group on top of Mt. Kalawitan 2714m


December 13-14, 2010

“In rekordverdaechtigen 3.5 Stunden den Gipfel erklommen bei strahlendem Sonnenschein und unendlichem Nebelmeer! Dazu ein grandioses Kinderabenteuer mit feinem essen und der unvergleichlichen APA-Stimmung. Daniel Mettler und Familie”

Guests: Daniel and Maja with Lias, Simea, Enya
Guides: Roger Oplawan (Apa), Chester Tumbaga (Kalawitan)
Organizer, Helper: Rolf Boller

November 25, 2010

Martina Gasser from Switzerland is hiking on the newly established Mukgo trail and made a round trip towards Apa Campsite. She was accompanied by Pia Fleischlin.


Pictures: Martina and Pia are helping Roger in pulping the fresh harvested arabica coffee cherries at the Panorama Viewpoint and later went down to the Chico River.

October 2010 – closed during typhoon season

[Mt. Kalawitan and Apa Campsite are closed the during peak of the rainy season. We are very sorry that we can not accept guests this days, but it is for the security of our guest. ]


September 30, 2010

The two women from Bontoc and Germany make a short hike to Apa together with Pia. Rolf is entertaining the caribous. What about riding on them?

Guest: Johanna Schiessel, Ursula
Organized: Pia Fleischlin


August 11-13, 2010

“Thank you very much for being so accommodating. You have a beautiful and wonderful place. I hope this will remain the same for many generations to come. I’ll definitely be back in the near future. Julius Strada”

Julius and Marcial, pls. send us some pictures! (rolf.boller@bluewin.ch)
Guest: Julius Strada, Marcial S. Barrios
Guide: Jordan Rafael, Chester Tumbaga
Helper: Rolf, Denver


August 3-4, 2010

Guests: Fr. Martin Jaggi (65 yrs), Sylvan Kamber
Guides: Jordan Rafael, Chester Tumbaga

They started in Apa at 6 am and reached the top of Mount Kalawitan at 11 pm. Congratulation! (guest book was not available, so now entry)


August 2, 2010 BMI

“Thank you very much for bringing us to this beautiful place, we wish u good luck with the eco tourism project. May many people discover the beauty of Mt. Kalawitan! god bless”

Guests: Mr. Frauz Erni, Head of the Mission Department BMI Switzerland together with Helen Trautvetter, Coordinator Philippines and Sylvan Kamber, HOPLAA
Guides: Raymondo Dam-alan, Jordan Rafael, Chester Tumbaga
Organizers: Pia Fleichilin and Rolf Boller


July30, 2010

It is in the middle of the rainy season. We are cleaning Apa together with the swiss trainee Silvan Kamber. After the hard day working we enjoy a jump into the natural river pools. We discover many wild honey bees. Honey from the Apa Apiary, that is definitively something to develop!


Juli 6-7, 2010

“Nine swiss people hike to wonderful Apa. Am zweiten Rest-tag brechen wir doch noch nach Apa auf! We had a swiss barbecue with sausages, went swimming, planted fruit trees and watching Glühwüermchen (Fireflies) and the beautiful stars in heaven. Thank you Pia, Rolf and Ernesto for your effort and the possibility to bring us to Apa. It is a really wonderful, quiet and relaxing place!”

Guests: Tom & Melanie Nansoz Bauman, Noelle, Loana, Gilles, Sandra V., Silvan K.
Organizers: Ernesto Bondad, Pia, Rolf


May 30-31, 2010

“Haila haila saga, tri tuk raga, tri tuk sun me shi um popo sh ferbie. Dear Rolf, Pia and Silvan. Thanks for the hospitality, I hope to see you all in Los Banos… “ ect.

Guest: Harvey Gracia, wildlife biologist of IRRI
Guide: Raymondo

Harvey and Guide Raymondo stayed in the Mossy Forest at Asoan for overnight. 12 hours above 1’900 m a.s.l. Unfortunately the guest book was missing that day. But our friend Harvey left a very special note:


May 19-21, 2010

“D day, in conquering ,beating the odds of Mt. Kalawitan! Marcial S. Barrios, SADC”
“Thank you all for this wonderful days, Apa is a great place to stall and to reload the batteries! Tom, SADC”
“I was her on May 20. 2010, the day of my birthday, and May 21., 2010, the day of my 12th years as a priest. Thanks Rolf, Pia and Tom for bringing as her. A blessing to discover my self and my vacation her, Fr. Marion”

Guests: Marcial B. Santos, Fr. Marion, Tom Bauman (Civil Engineer & Architect)
Guides: Mantel Bang Ayan, Roldan Ricarte, Jordan Rafael
Cook: Pia Fleischlin
Organizer: Rolf Boller, Ernesto Bondad


April 7-9, 2010 – first Swiss mountaineers on Mt. Kalawitan

“Four friends of Pia and Rolf travelled to Sabangan from Switzerland. We had the luck to be the firs tourist which could climb up Mt. Kalawitan. We spent two nights in Apa Campsite and and planted some fruit trees. Our guides took care of us and help hicking up. We could enjoy very good meals in Apa.”
“We made ourselves self home in Apa on the way to the top, and we did it! Mt. Kalawitan was a great adventure!”

Guests: Thomas, Franz, Seppi, Pia (all Switzerland)
Guides: Raymundo, Roldan, Rolf, Pia Fleischlin


April 5, 2010 – trail up to Mt. Kalawitan open !!

Raymondo Dam-alan, the initiative guide from Brgy. Losad, opened and secured the last part of the trail up to Mount Kalawitan together with Arvin.

April 4, 2010

“We went there for relaxing, exploring the area and tasting the excellent Sabangan rice wine. We discovered a resident of Apa, the Striped Shrew Rat (Chrotomys sp.), and an endemic forest rat. This rat family has different species, is common in the mountain forests, but endemic to the Philippines. Later, Noel, Roldan and mantel join us and we had a picture session, yeha.”

Easter Sunday outing of teachers from Sabangan
Visitors: Sir Eugen Mangay-at, Sir Roger Barbosa, 2 high school student
Guides: Raymondo Dam-alan, Rolf Boller

March 24, 2010

Guests: Ervin Uden, Sylvester Dawey, Seraphin Daongan
Outing of the seminarians: „Apa, a place for communicating with god. It is where you can experience the loving presence of god to men it’s where we can experience ’AHA’.”

March 13, 2010

Teachers from the San Alfonso High School are visiting Apa.

March 2010

30 women from the LGU visited Apa during the National Women day for an outing. Read more: Press article.


February 26, 2010

Fr. Hill and Fr.Pablo ‘Bong’Garay (SVD) come to Apa Campsite to Bless the renovated huts and installed facilities.

February 13-22, 2010 Wild Bird research

Wild Bird study by Researcher from University of Alaska Museum.With the permission of DENR, the LGU and NCIP, the bird researcher Thomas Braile from the University of Alaska Museum conducted a study on wild birds in Apa Campsite. He was the first guest in the newly opened site in January 2010 and hired local hunters as his assistants. Among the already known species from the HARIBON biodiversity assessment, he discovered the presence of Japanese Paradise-Flycatcher and found again the Flame-breasted Fruit-dove.(Read more: Report)