I could feel the heaviness and strain in my body already. I’ve been hiking almost daily around Batanes for the past week. My stamina is dipping. Trudging early morning on the grassy slopes of Mt Riposed in the dark, I told myself I have reached my quota for challenging tramps such as this. I deserve a pat for having finally visited Rapang Cliffs the day before. While I want to explore more, Itbayat can really drill a hole on your wallet if you’re travelling alone. While I welcome my guide, Jojo’s suggestions on other places to visit. I had limited budget. So why not end my Itbayat sojourn at the island’s highest point.
The summer solstice extended the days in the country. But here in Batanes, the days felt a lot longer. 4:11 AM the sky was already showing shades of blue. The milky way slowly dissolves into the sky over at Mt Riposed. The purple glow brightens and unveils the landscape. We were at the sunrise point of Rapang Cliffs. I climbed on some sharp limestone rocks to get a better view near the cliffs. As soon as I saw the view behind the high rocks, my jaw dropped in amazement. I never thought Batanes could mesmerize me anew, but the landscape near the northern edge of the country just did.
I love maps that’s why Google Maps (and Here Maps) are my friends when I travel. When I’m in a new destination, I’m never afraid to get lost. As long as I have my maps with me I will always find a way back. Aside from maps, I love vectors as well which somehow made me lightly delve into cartography or Art Maps. If you’ve been a Long time reader of this site, I made a set of Batanes Maps in 2008. It was rough and had some glaring errors on several locations and names. These new set of Batanes Maps I made late last year as part of the Batanes Travel Guides I did. Batanes is one of my favorite places in the country and it is fitting I make my first sets of Ironwulf En Route Art Maps about this location. Check below for the maps of Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat Islands.
It took almost two months to get everything together but I’m glad we have finally completed the three-part Batanes Travel Guide collection. It was a really tedious process creating these guides but I enjoyed the moment I spent time with it. Cross-checking facts led me to several resources for Batanes that gave me deeper appreciation of the archipelago. You can now download the guides for Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat islands by clicking on their cover images below which will lead you to their download page.
We marvelled at the stars, shining plentifully at the sky. Something we don’t see in an urban night. We played around with the star-gazer on our phones figuring out the constellations, the position of the stars in the wee hours of the morning while waiting for our dump truck service to arrive. Despite the gizmos in our hands, there was no electricity in Itbayat at 4am as it runs from noon to 12 midnight only. We were headed to one of the mountains in the island, Mt Karoboboan. Usual program from tourism here is they take people to the peak at sunset. But since we didn’t have time the day before, we decided to go on a sunrise.
The view of the Pacific Ocean, the deep jagged cliffs from the island where I’m standing and Dinem Island, cutting through the ocean like a knife’s edge was stupendous. Here at the farthest inhabitable, northern island of Itbayat, I’m just lost for words on how I can describe the beauty I’m seeing from Torongan Hills. If I had my way, I can spend an idle afternoon here just looking at the sea and passing clouds. It was one of those moments that I’m so proud of the Philippines for having places like this.
Up to the last-minute, we weren’t sure if we’re pushing through Itbayat on our second day. While having dinner the previous night at the Bunker in Naidi Hills, we watched how the wind threw monobloc chairs and tables making us think of a backup plan in case we don’t push through. But waking up the next day, our guide Joaquin, excitedly informed us and showed in the internet how the wind has slowed down and changed direction. That means we can push through with our Itbayat. So the group got ready for the overnight stay on one of the largest upheaved coral in the world, Itbayat Island.