Climbing the towering limestone cliffs, called taraw by the locals, of El Nido town was something we viewed as an activity we did when we were bored. And at that time, we we’re bored a lot. Yes, we climbed often enough that the 45-minute climb, considered as half-truth by tourists who climb the taraw for the magnificent view of El Nido town and Bacuit Bay, was sometimes only 30 minutes to us, depending on who was climbing with us.

H was over for a visit and we we’re all off for semestral break. H, having come over from Manila through Puerto Princesa and endured the grueling 10-hour trip by non-aircon bus on half-paved dirt roads, couldn’t possibly leave El Nido without going up the cliffs. So we did.

The best time to go up the cliffs is early in the morning, the earlier the better. Any later and the sun would be scorching hot. It’s hard to appreciate the view when you are exposed under the harsh sun with no shade whatsoever at the top. Not being actual morning persons, we started the ascent at 9am and was at the top before ten. We stopped often to take photos.

Just a warning, this climb is not your usual climb. When my brother was in El Nido for a visit in 2003, he declined to go up the cliffs because he did not want his expensive Nikes to be damaged.

I found some really good accounts of their own climb up the cliffs and let me quote some of them:

From TheKillerFillersdotcom: “Mountaineering experience won’t prepare you for climbing Taraw. It was serious rock climbing from the first assault. And when I say serious, I meant serious like 80-degree-5-storey-high-limestone-piercing-death-drop serious. I wrote many climb stories and talk about death cliffs all the time and I want to take that back for if death cliffs have a picture in the dictionary, the cliffs in Taraw should be it. There were times you will need to pull yourself up with the strength of your arms just to get to the next stepping stone and I am not the leanest person you’ve seen, so go figure.”

From IronWulfdotnet: “I thought this was gonna be easy. Like walking on regular mountain trails and winding roads… My mountain climbing experience didn’t prepare me for this. We were traversing the sharp and jagged limestone trails and pulling ourselves up along almost vertical walls… A few more climbs to the peak, the trail became more challenging and dangerous that one step could send me plummeting down to the sharp rocks.”