If you’re tired of beaches, why not climb a mountain instead?
Not just any mountain, but Mount Pulag, the highest mountain in Luzon.
Maybe you want to climb Mount Pulag for that Instagram-worthy selfie with the famous “sea of clouds.” Maybe you just want to enjoy the almost freezing temperature you won’t feel anywhere in the country. Or maybe you just want to challenge yourself and conquer something.
There are a hundred of other reasons to climb the highest mountain in Luzon. But for some people, there are also enough reasons to keep delaying the climb or perhaps not even go at all.
From stressing over the logistics of getting there to worrying about how arduous the trek will be, it’s no wonder a lot of our friends stop at just liking Mount Pulag selfies.
Don’t let these thoughts stop you from experiencing the beauty and serenity of this mountain yourself. After reading this article, you’ll find that you have nothing to worry about because there is a quick and easy way to climb it!
No travel agency, no tour group. Just your independent self planning your own trek by following just seven simple steps.
Step 1: Call the DENR office in Ambangeg.
Before your climb, you need to inform the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) office in Ambangeg that you will be there to climb Mount Pulag.
Tell them your intended date of climb and the number of participants in your group. Since Mount Pulag has gained extreme popularity among hikers, the crowd ballooned to a level sometimes too much for the mountain to handle. This is why DENR limits the number of climbers per day and also why you need to inform them ahead of time so they could reserve you a slot.
You may contact Emerita Albas, the DENR Superintendent, at +63 919-631-5402.
Step 2: Ride the overnight bus to Baguio.
Mount Pulag National Park is bordered by three provinces in Luzon: Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya. This means there are also at least three trails leading to the summit.
Shared by the towns of Bokod and Kabayan in Benguet, the Ambangeg Trail is said to be the easiest, making it the most common choice for mountaineers who like to experience Mount Pulag in the least amount of time, and with the least amount of physical effort.
Since we’re picking the easiest and quickest route; Baguio, being the primary gateway to Benguet, will be your first stop.
Travel time for first-class buses is between 5 to 6 hours and will set you back ₱750 while regular buses will take 6 to 7 hours and cost ₱500. Book a bus ride with a departure time of around 11:00 in the evening so that you get to Baguio in the early morning of the following day.
Step 3: Ride the early morning van to Ambangeg.
Once you’re in Baguio, flag a taxi to bring you to the Old Slaughterhouse. Tell the driver to drop you off at the van terminal to Kabayan. Catch the first trip out to Kabayan which leaves around 7:00 AM.
The van to Kabayan will pass by Ambangeg. Get yourself dropped off at the junction in Ambangeg near the DENR Station. Travel time from Baguio to Ambangeg is 2 hours and will cost around ₱120.
Step 4: Register at the DENR Station
From the junction in Ambangeg, walk a few meters to the DENR Station.
If you are a first-timer to Mount Pulag, you will be asked to watch a short video presentation that summarizes the do’s and don’ts during the climb. This will also include some trivia and other helpful information that may come in handy throughout your hike.
Following the brief orientation, an entrance fee of ₱100 per person and a camping fee of ₱50 per person will be collected. You should be able to complete all the requirements before lunchtime. You can start your climb immediately after this.
Step 5: Take a motorcycle ride to Babadac Ranger Station.
Outside the DENR Station, there will be motorcycles for hire (habal-habal) which can bring you to Babadac Ranger Station — the hike’s starting point. Fare costs ₱250 per person per way.
Step 6: Hire a guide at Babadac Ranger Station.
As for guides and porters, you can request for one at the Babadac Ranger Station. Guide fee is ₱500 per group while the porter fee is at ₱500 with a limit of 15 kilos per porter.
If you are camping at the Saddle Camp, the one nearest the summit, ₱100 will be added to your guide and porter fee.
Step 7: Hike to the Mount Pulag’s Summit.
There are three established camps in Mount Pulag: Camp 1, Camp 2 and the Saddle Camp.
Camp 1 is an easy 30-minute trek from Babadac Ranger Station.
Then it takes another hour to reach Camp 2.
If you wish to summit Mount Pulag on the same day you arrived from Baguio, you’ll be surprised to know that from Camp 2, the summit is just an easy 1.5-hour trek!
Saddle Camp is located 20 minutes below the peak so camping here is your best option, especially since you’ll probably be climbing back to the summit the next morning to welcome the sunrise and the breathtaking sea of clouds!
Things to Bring
Unless you are camping in Mount Pulag for a week, you don’t need to bring your entire room in your backpack. Bringing less also means paying less porter fees.
Here’s a list of the basic items you’ll need for a two-day (one day ascent, next day descent) hike to Mount Pulag.
Food and Drinks (3 meals: lunch and dinner for Day 1, breakfast for Day 2)
Cookware: (Unless you plan to eat ready-to-eat food)
Jacket (Bring three if you are climbing any time between December to February)
Gloves (Because cold hands will make it difficult for you to sleep, trust me!)
Socks (You’ll need 3 pairs worn at once during the cold season)
Camera (The selfie, remember?)
Most important reminder: Bring all your trash back home. Nature is best when kept pristine.
And that’s it! Wasn’t that quick and easy? As long as you conscientiously follow the 7 simple steps, climbing Mount Pulag will be a piece of cake!
Bonus: Sample Itinerary
Here’s a sample itinerary to help give you a better picture of how your days will be spent when you go to Mount Pulag.
11:00 PM: Bus from Cubao to Baguio
6:00 AM Arrival in Baguio, Taxi to Old Slaughterhouse
7:00 AM Van from Old Slaughterhouse to Ambangeg
9:00 AM Arrival in Ambangeg, Registration and Briefing at DENR Station
10:00 AM Motorcycle to Babadac Ranger Station
10:30 AM Arrival at Babadac Ranger Station, Early Lunch
11:00 AM Hire Trekking Guide and Porter, Briefing
12:00 PM Begin Trek to Summit
12:30 PM Arrival Camp 1
1:30 PM Arrival Camp 2
3:00 PM Arrival at the Summit
3:30 PM Descend to Saddle Camp
3:50 PM Arrival at Saddle Camp, Pitch Tent
5:00 PM Cook Dinner
6:00 PM Dinner
8:00 PM Lights Out
3:30 AM Cook Breakfast
4:00 AM Eat Breakfast
4:30 AM Unpitch Tent
5:00 AM Hike to Summit
5:20 AM Arrival at the Summit, Golden Sunrise + Sea of Clouds!
7:00 AM Descend to Babadac Ranger Station
10:00 AM Arrival at Babadac, Motorcycle to Ambangeg Crossing
10:30 AM Arrival at Ambangeg Crossing, Van to Baguio
12:30 PM Arrival in Baguio, Lunch and Buy Pasalubong
3:00 PM Bus from Baguio to Manila
10:00 PM Arrival in Manila