Mt Pulag DIY Climb Guide
Mt Pulag is Luzon’s highest peak, and third highest mountain in the Philippines, next to Mount Apo and Mount Dulang-Dulang. This mountain, also known as “the playground of gods”, is prominent for its dazzling summit view of the phenomenal “sea of clouds”. It has four major trails – the Ambangeg, Akiki, and Tawangan trails from Benguet and the Ambaguio trail from Nueva Vizcaya. Akiki trail is the hardest trail, while the Ambangeg is the easiest. The Tawangan trail has the thickest rainforest, and Ambaguio trail is the longest. We already traversed the Akiki-Ambangeg trails, and conquered the Tawangan-Ambangeg trails when we did the Timbak–Tabayoc–Pulag climb, and I can say that this mountain is indeed more than just the majestic view of the cottony white clouds that cover the horizon. Mt. Pulag is a perfect example of a piece of heaven on earth where you can get to enjoy the blanket of stars in a clear, freezing night. Its beauty is ethereal and no words is enough to describe it.
This DIY Climb Guide for Mt Pulag is written for those who long to set foot at the summit of this amazing mountain but do not want to take advantage of climb packages from tour agencies. This detailed climb guide is best for those who have lots of time but limited budget; for those who do not bother taking public transportation and willing to endure multiple stops.
Major jump-off point: Ambangeg (Babadac) Ranger Station, Bokod, Benguet
Elevation: 2,922 MASL (Philippines’ 3rd highest mountain)
Specs: Major Climb | Difficulty 3/9
Features: Sea of Clouds | Grassland |Dwarf Bamboo Slopes | Mossy Montane Forest
HOW TO GET TO MT PULAG JUMP-OFF POINT FROM METRO MANILA
- From Metro Manila, ride a bus in Cubao (Victory Liner | Partas | Genesis) going to Baguio. Travel time is 4 to 5 hours.
- Upon reaching Baguio City, you have two options to get to the DENR registration site:
- Expensive but time-efficient: Charter a jeep/van going to Bokod, Benguet where the DENR (also the registration site) is located. Travel time is 2 hours.
- More affordable but time-consuming: Take a regular passenger van from Baguio to Kabayan, Benguet. It passes by Ambangeg. Passenger vans are parked at Baguio City’s Old Slaughterhouse. First trip usually leaves at 7:00AM or until the van gets full of passengers. Succeeding trips depend on the number of commuters/passengers. Tell the driver to drop you off at the junction in Ambangeg (Bokod, Benguet), near the DENR Station. Travel time is 3-4 hours. This option will delay the itinerary a bit, because you will arrive at the Ranger Station 2-3 hours behind the usual IT which uses chartered jeepneys. But because the hike in Day 1 is relatively easy, this option is not really much of a big deal.
- Once in Ambangeg (Bokod, Benguet), walk towards the direction of the DENR Office for registration. If it is your first time to climb Mt. Pulag, there is a one-hour orientation that you need to attend to.
- After the registration/orientation, you can hire a habal-habal (motorcycle) to bring you up to Babadac Ranger Station, the jump-off point. (If you plan to charter a jeepney/van skip this item as your rented vehicle must take you up to the Ranger Station). Travel time is 1 hour.
- From the Ranger Station you may arrange for a guide and a porter.
MT PULAG EXPENSES (including Hiking Fees)
(Click on the photo to enlarge Mt Pulag cost)
MT PULAG ITINERARY (via Ambangeg-Ambangeg Trail)
(Click on the photo to enlarge)
Above image is an example of itinerary with a chartered jeepney and camping at Camp 2, please adjust your time depending on the following grounds:
- If you are commuting through the regular passenger van.
- If you are climbing Mt. Pulag on a weekend when camping beyond Babadac Ranger Station is not allowed so you will have to spend overnight in any of the homestays at the ranger station or set a camp at the foot of the mountain. If this will be the case, you can leave Metro Manila around 2AM on Day 1 and be back in Metro Manila by 10PM on Day 2.
- If you are climbing on a weekend, summit assault happens early morning (as early as 2AM) on the second day. The descend happens on the same day before lunch. By afternoon, you’re back at the DENR office. Literally, a day hike.
*Note: Be sure to ask for the last trip. If you fail to catch the Kabayan-Baguio last trip, just ask the habal-habal to take you instead to Bokod junction (for an additional 50 pesos or less) and wait there for the Baguio-bound buses coming from Kayapa.
CLIMB TIPS FOR MT. PULAG
- If you’re athletic and used to hiking, it would only take about 3 hours to reach the summit of Mount Pulag, coming from Babadac Ranger Station.
- All trails of Mt. Pulag are managed by the Mount Pulag National Park, under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Be sure to make reservations for your hike because climbing without prior notice with DENR is discouraged. Contact Emerita Albas (+639196315402) for reservation of slot/s.
- NEVER underestimate the freezing temperature of Mount Pulag. Temperature could drop to as low as -5 degrees Celsius. Coldest season is from December to February.
- There are three established campsites in Mount Pulag: Camp 1, Camp 2, and the Saddle Camp. Water source is at Camp 2 while the Saddle Camp is the one nearest to the summit, but farthest from the jump-off point. You can also (if you plan to set camp at the saddle) hike early, adjust your travelling time. Do not forget your headlamp, you will be needing that for the summit assault, regardless of where you plan to camp.
- Take Bonamine at least an hour before the ride to Bokod, Benguet (DENR/Registration site) as the road leading to the DENR and to the jump-off point is really a long and winding one.
- Be part of Love, Eat, Wander community for updates about Mt. Pulag. Follow us in Twitter and Instagram, too!
- Travel agencies such as Sole Adventours offers a package climb to Mt. Pulag for as low as Php2,200 per person (inclusive of food). Like their page and send them a message for more info.
OUR UNSOLICITED PLATE OF THOUGHTS
- DENR must be vigilant with their campaign in rehabilitating Mt. Pulag National Park and religiously follow the set number of people hiking the mountain. Not allowing camp during weekends is a good option to help Pulag to recuperate. Sea of crowds sometimes supersede the sea of clouds eh?
- The mushrooming homestays at the foot of the mountain must also be managed properly to ensure security of hikers.
Do not be afraid to climb your mountain,
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