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Mount Apo

Coordinates: 6°59′15″N 125°16′15″E / 6.98750°N 125.27083°E / 6.98750; 125.27083
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Mount Apo
  • Apo Sandawa
  • Bundok Apo
Mount Apo as viewed from Davao City. Mt. Apo lies in the background, while the more massive but shorter Mt. Talomo is in the foreground.
Highest point
Elevation2,954 m (9,692 ft)[1][2][3]
Prominence2,954 m (9,692 ft)[3]
Ranked 99th
Isolation905 km (562 mi) Edit this on Wikidata
to Fuyul Sojol Edit this on Wikidata
Coordinates6°59′15″N 125°16′15″E / 6.98750°N 125.27083°E / 6.98750; 125.27083[3]
Mount Apo is located in Mindanao
Mount Apo
Mount Apo
Mount Apo is located in Philippines
Mount Apo
Mount Apo
Parent rangeApo–Talomo
Age of rockPliocene-Quaternary[4]
Mountain typeStratovolcano
Volcanic arc/beltThe Central Mindanao Volcanic Arc (CMVA) is a volcanically-active region in the southern Philippines.
Last eruption1640 [5][6]
First ascent1880 by Joaquin Rajal, governor of Davao; Joseph Montano, a French anthropologist; Jesuit missionary Father Mateo Gisbert, etc.[7][8]
Easiest routeKidapawan-Magpet Trail[9]

Mount Apo, also known locally as Apo Sandawa, is a large solfataric, dormant stratovolcano on the island of Mindanao, Philippines. With an elevation of 3,144 meters (10,315 ft) above sea level, it is the highest-mountain in the Philippine Archipelago, Mindanao and 24th-highest peak of an island on Earth. Located on the tripartite border of Davao City and Davao del Sur in the Davao Region, and Cotabato in Soccsksargen, Mount Apo is the most-prominent mountain in the Philippines. The peak overlooks from Davao City 45 kilometers (28 mi) to the northeast, Digos 25 kilometers (16 mi) to the southeast, and Kidapawan 20 kilometers (12 mi) to the west. It is a protected area and a Natural Park of the Philippines.[10]


Mount Apo is a flat-topped, 2,954 m (9,692 ft) (above sea level) high stratovolcano with three peaks. It is the highest peak of the Philippines. The southwest peak has the highest elevation and is topped by a 200 m (656 ft) wide crater that contains a small lake.[11]

The volcanic history of Mount Apo is poorly known but eruptions have produced andesitic-to-dacitic lava. A line of solfataras extend from the southeast flank at an elevation of 2,400 m (7,874 ft) to the summit. Mount Apo is not known to have had historical eruptions, and was incorrectly attributed to be the source volcano of the 1641 eruption of Mount Melibengoy, also in Mindanao.[11]

Etymology and indigenous peoples[edit]

The name of Mt. Apo comes from Apo, a title of respect meaning "revered elder" in various languages of the surrounding Lumad tribes.[12] It is the shortened form of the original Manobo and Kalagan name Apo Sandawa ("Elder Sandawa" or "Grandfather Sandawa"), the name of the spirit of the mountain. Apo Sandawa is also regarded as an ancestor spirit by the various Manobo and Kalagan tribes living in the foothills, including the Obo, Manobo Bagobo, Manobo Apao, Tagabawa, Matigsalug, Ata, Arumanen, Tinananen, Kulamanen, Tagakaulo and Kagan peoples. The mountain itself is considered sacred grounds. Various rituals to Apo Sandawa are conducted by the supreme waylan (shaman) known as the diwata, who also serves as the medium for Apo Sandawa and the ancestor spirits of the Manobo and Kalagan tribes.[13][14]


Mount Apo Natural Park[edit]

Mount Apo rainforest in 2021

On May 9, 1936, Mount Apo was declared a National Park with Proclamation No. 59 by President Manuel L. Quezon followed by Proclamation No. 35 of May 8, 1966,[15] then Proclamation No. 882 of September 24, 1996.[16][17] On February 3, 2004, the approval of Republic Act No. 9237 established Mount Apo as a protected area under the category of Natural Park with an area of 54,974.87 hectares (135,845.9 acres); with two peripheral areas of 2,571.73 hectares (6,354.9 acres) and 6,506.40 hectares (16,077.7 acres) as buffer zones, provided for its management and for other purposes.[18][19]

UNESCO World Heritage list[edit]

Forest clearing in Mount Apo's old-growth rainforest. Such clearing practices have now been permanently banned throughout the park and its buffer zones in a bid to strengthen the park's integrity for UNESCO designation.

In 1987, the National Geographic Society based in Washington, DC in the United States, published a book entitled, "Our World's Heritage", where Mount Apo was noted as a 'site of World Heritage caliber'.[20] The cover of the book also featured Mount Apo's iconic Philippine eagle, along with three other heritage sites which have already been designated as "UNESCO World Heritage Sites".[21]

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) submitted Mount Apo on December 12, 2009, for inclusion in the UNESCO world heritage list. The mountain is considered by DENR as the center of endemism in Mindanao. It has one of the highest land-based biological diversity in terms of flora and fauna per unit area. It has three distinct forest formations, from lowland tropical rainforest, to mid-mountain forests, and finally to high mountain forests.[4]

A portion of the eastern slopes are also within the scope of the UNESCO Hydrology Environment Life and Policy (HELP) Network. The Davao HELP Network is focused on building collaboration among watershed stakeholders.

In March 2015, it was taken out from the UNESCO List of Tentative Sites due to the dramatic changes (such as logging, intrusion of companies and urban and agricultural landscape, exploitation, and poaching, among others) it experienced which does not constitute the UNESCO documents that describes the park.[22] Better conservation and a change in the content of documents was recommended by UNESCO.


Mount Apo in 2008

The climate at the summit of Mount Apo is alpine (Köppen ETH) as its mean temperature does not exceed 10 °C or 50 °F in any month. It falls under the Type IV climate under the modified corona's classification wherein rainfall is relatively distributed throughout the year. Mean monthly temperature ranges from a low 6.9 °C (44.4 °F) during January to 8.9 °C (48.0 °F) during April. Monthly relative humidity ranges from 78% during March and April and 82% during June and July. Minima reach 2.4 °C (36.3 °F) in January and February.

In late March–April 2016, due to the extreme effects of El Niño caused by climate change and global warming, massive patches of forest fires and bushfires appeared on the slopes of the mountain, causing hikers on the mountain to halt their ascent. Tourism in the region was threatened due to a massive haze engulfing the slopes of the mountain. The mountain later recovered after the government and local stakeholders initiated a holistic recovery plan for the entire natural park.[23]

Climate data for Mount Apo
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 11.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 6.9
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 2.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 51
Source: meteoblue.com (modeled/calculated data, not measured locally)[24]

Flora and fauna[edit]

The Apo sunbird, a sunbird endemic to Mindanao

The mountain is home to over 272 bird species, 111 of which are endemic to the area. It is also home to one of the world's largest eagles, the critically endangered Philippine eagle, which is the country's national bird.[25]

Bodies of water[edit]


Mount Apo taken from Lake Venado Campsite

There are four major lakes in Mt. Apo. Popular of these are Lake Agco, which used to be called "The Blue Lake", and Lake Venado, a well-known mountaineers camping site and a stopover towards the peak. Lake Macadac and Lake Jordan are found in the summit grassland.[26]


Mount Apo is a headwaters catchment area of several major river systems like Marbel River, Matingaw River, connecting with the Kabacan River, part of the Pulangi River, a major tributary of the Mindanao River, the Tudaya Falls, Sibulan River, and Digos River, which flows into Davao Gulf.

Mt. Apo has 19 major rivers and 21 creeks draining its 8 major watersheds (PASAlist.1992). Out of the 19 major rivers, only two has studies as reported by SEA-BMB consultants for the Mt. Apo Geothermal Project Environmental Impact Assessment 1991. According to the report, there are two river ecosystems draining the geothermal site namely: (1) Marbel-Matingao river ecosystem- characterized by narrower river channels at highly elevated areas, much faster water flow, clearer water and rock boulder-rich water beds. The aquatic organisms in the area have expectedly lower biological productivity and species diversity. The report also concluded that this river ecosystem provides much less economic and commercial value for its biological production. The study identified 12 species of fish caught in the area; (2) Kabacan River- Pulangi River ecosystem- characterized by a much wider channels at flat areas, relatively much slower water flow, highly turbid waters and sandy mud river beds.


The Tudaya Falls is a one-tier 150-metre-high (490 ft) waterfall in Mt. Apo Natural Park.[27] This waterfall flows into the Sibulan River, which flows into the Davao Gulf.

Biological features[edit]

Nepenthes copelandii, a pitcher plant endemic to the mountains of Mindanao

The grasslands are characterized by the dominance of Cogon grass (Imperata cylindrica) and Saccharum spontaneum. Other grasses and ferns also thrive, especially along banks of creeks, streams, and rivers and on steep slopes.

Geothermal energy[edit]

A sulfuric vent in Mount Apo

The Mt. Apo 1 and Mt. Apo 2 geothermal plants, each possess a rated capacity of 54.24 megawatts. Owned and operated by Energy Development Corporation (EDC) the power plants were commissioned in February 1997 (Mt. Apo 1) and June 1999 (Mt. Apo 2) respectively, under a build-operate owner contract arrangement. Located in Barangay Ilomavis, Kidapawan City, North Cotabato is the Mindanao Geothermal Production Field with a power output of 108.48 MW, currently the only power plant of its kind in Mindanao.[28]

The Philippine National Oil Company geothermal plant supplies electricity to Kidapawan and its neighboring provinces, its completion boosted the city's economy.

Watershed and hydroelectric plants[edit]

The Tudaya Hydropower Plant[edit]

The Tudaya Hydropower Plant, located near the foot of Mount Apo on the Davao side (Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur), is composed of two run-of-river type plants that will contribute to the energy needs of Mindanao by early 2014.[29]

The Sibulan Hydroelectric Power Plant[edit]

The Sibulan Hydroelectric Power Plants have been generating 42.5 MW of clean and renewable energy for Davao since 2010. It is also composed of two run-of the river mini hydro power plants.[30][31]

Sibulan A was completed and commissioned on December 26, 2010. Local residents who are mainly engaged in abaca and fruit farming have since benefited from the use of 44 kilometres (27 mi) of farm-to-market roads which were developed as access to the plants.[30]

Hiking activity[edit]

Hikers at the peak
A light attack aircraft of the Philippine Air Force flies over Mount Apo

At 2,954 meters (9,692 ft), Mount Apo is the highest mountain (peak) and volcano in the Philippines. It is one of the country's most popular hiking/climbing destinations.

The first two attempts to reach Mt. Apo's summit ended in failure: that of Jose Oyanguren (1852) and Señor Real (1870). The first recorded successful expedition was led by Don Joaquin Rajal on October 10, 1880. Prior to the climb, Rajal had to secure the permission of the Bagobo chieftain, Datu Manig. It is said that the Datu demanded that human sacrifice be made to please the god Mandarangan. But the datu agreed to waive this demand, and the climb commenced on October 6, 1880, succeeding five days later.[citation needed] Since then, numerous expeditions followed. These and more are described in colorful narrations by Fr. Miguel Bernad, S.J.

Several trails lead to the summit, coming from North Cotabato and Davao provinces. Arguably the easiest route to the Natural Park is through Kidapawan with an average hike taking 3–4 days roundtrip. In the classification system used by local popular mountaineering website PinoyMountaineer.com, the difficulty of the hike is 7 out of 9. Various sights along the trail include Lake Venado, the highest lake in the Philippines, the solfataras and the old crater near its summit.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Topographic map of Mount Apo". opentopomap.org. Retrieved February 27, 2023.
  2. ^ "The World Factbook – Philippines". Central Intelligence Agency. Archived from the original on January 5, 2021. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Philippines Mountain Ultra-Prominence". peaklist.org. Archived from the original on February 17, 2015. Retrieved June 19, 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Tentative Lists; Mount Apo Natural Park". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on March 11, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  5. ^ https://traveleanorism.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/mount-apo-almost-heaven-the-kapatagan-kidapawan-traverse/
  6. ^ https://www.philstar.com/business/agriculture/2005/01/09/267778/saving-mt-apo-and-rp-eagle-extinction/amp/
  7. ^ Montano, Dr. Joseph. "Voyage Aux Philippines et en Malaisie", p. 246. Labrairie Hechette, Paris, 1886.
  8. ^ Maso, Miguel Saderra. "Volcanoes and Seismic Centers of the Philippines", p.27. Department of Commerce and Labor, 1904.
  9. ^ (2007-10-08). "Mt. Apo/Kidapawan-Magpet Trail" Archived June 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Pinoy Mountaineer. Retrieved on April 23, 2011.
  10. ^ "Proclamation No. 59; Reserving, Setting Apart, and Designating as Mount Apo Natural Park for Park Purposes for the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People of the Philippines the Parcel of Public Domain, Situated in the Municipal District of Kidapawan, Province of Cotabato, and Municipal District of Guianga and Municipality of Santa Cruz, Province of Davao, Island of Mindanao". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Malacañan Palace, Manila, Philippines. May 9, 1936. Archived from the original on April 21, 2019. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Apo". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. Archived from the original on January 23, 2020. Retrieved February 11, 2020.
  12. ^ Knipp, Steven. "The Living Mountain". Mount Apo Foundation Inc. Archived from the original on November 25, 2019. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  13. ^ Cauayan, Editha (May 24, 2016). "IP leaders hold tribal ritual to save Mt Apo". Rappler. Archived from the original on December 4, 2019. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  14. ^ Tacio, Henrylito D. (March 14, 2013). "Mt. Apo: Race to the summit". SunStar Davao. Archived from the original on December 4, 2019. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  15. ^ "Proclamation No. 35; Revoking Proclamation No. 507-A dated December 16, 1965, which Excluded Certain Portions of Land from the Mt. Apo Natural Park and Restoring the Same Areas as Part of the Mt. Apo Natural Park". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Malacañan Palace, Manila, Philippines. May 8, 1966. Archived from the original on November 6, 2021. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  16. ^ "Proclamation No. 882; Amending Presidential Proclamation No. 59 dated May 9, 1936 by Declaring Certain Parcels of Land of the Public Domain Covering Mt. Apo Situated in the Municipalities of Kidapawan, Makilala and Magpet in the Province of Cotabato; Bansalan, Digos, Sta. Cruz, in the Province of Davao del Sur and in the City of Davao, Island of Mindanao as Protected Area under the Category of Natural Park". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Malacañan Palace, Manila, Philippines. September 24, 1996. Archived from the original on November 6, 2021. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  17. ^ "Protected Areas in Region 11" Archived March 20, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Philippines. Retrieved on March 23, 2011.
  18. ^ "Republic Act No. 9237; An Act Establishing Mount Apo Located in the Municipalities of Magpet and Makilala and City of Kidapawan, Province of Cotabato, in the Municipalities of Bansalan and Sta. Cruz and City of Digos, Province of Davao Del Sur, and in the City of Davao, as a Protected Area Under the Category of Natural Park and Its Peripheral Areas as Buffer Zones, Providing for Its Management, and for Other Purposes" (PDF). Mount Apo Foundation, Inc. February 3, 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 10, 2016. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  19. ^ "Details for Republic Act no. 9237, Mount Apo Protected Act of 2003" Archived March 23, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Philippine Clearing House Mechanism for Diversity. Retrieved on April 29, 2011.
  20. ^ Our World's Heritage. 1987. ISBN 0870446975.
  21. ^ "Our World's Heritage". Archived from the original on November 20, 2018. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  22. ^ Mendoza, Iona Finlay C. (December 7, 2021). "Mt. Apo bats for inclusion in Unesco Global Geoparks list". SunStar. Archived from the original on December 7, 2021. Retrieved August 25, 2023.
  23. ^ "Mt. Apo forest fire now 'alarmingly large'". The Philippine Star. Archived from the original on April 15, 2016. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  24. ^ "Climate: Modelled Mount Apo – Climate graph, Temperature graph, Climate table". meteoblue.com. Archived from the original on August 15, 2021. Retrieved August 15, 2021.
  25. ^ "Profile – Mt. Apo Natural Park" Archived August 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Philippine Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau. Retrieved on April 29, 2011.
  26. ^ "A climb to the highest peak". SunStar. April 17, 2013. Archived from the original on August 25, 2023. Retrieved August 25, 2023.
  27. ^ "Must-sees when trekking on the 'grandfather' of Philippine mountains". ABS-CBN News. February 15, 2018. Archived from the original on February 23, 2018. Retrieved August 25, 2023.
  28. ^ "Geothermal Operating Sites – Mindanao Geothermal Production Field" Archived November 4, 2015, at the Wayback Machine. Energy Development Corporation. Retrieved on April 29, 2011.
  29. ^ "Work begins on Philippines' 7-MW Tudaya 2 hydroelectric plant". www.hydroworld.com. Archived from the original on August 26, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  30. ^ a b "Sibulan Hydroelectric Power Project". Power Technology | Energy News and Market Analysis. Archived from the original on August 8, 2020. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  31. ^ "Sibulan Hydro A". AboitizPower. Archived from the original on November 16, 2020. Retrieved March 17, 2019.

External links[edit]

  • Apo — Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS)
  • Apo — Global Volcanism Program
  • Mount Apo — Summitpost
  • Mt. Apo Natural Park — UNESCO Tentative World Heritage List