When I think of hiking, Mt Pulag is the first thing that comes to mind.
Mt Pulag is widely known for being the third highest mountain in the Philippines and the highest in Luzon. It is famous for having a view of a sea of clouds.
Having it on my bucket list, my friends and I planned to climb it.
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How To Get There (Step-by-Step Guide)
*If you’re starting from Manila to Mt Pulag, simply ride any bus heading to Baguio.
Travel Tip: You can book Victory Liner tickets to Baguio online with 12Go Asia.
First, ride a van to Kabayan
From Baguio, ride a van going to Kabayan for 120 pesos. On the way, you will have a short break and stop by Jang Jang Eatery for breakfast and a much-needed bathroom break.
Behind the restaurant, you can find this hanging bridge. Pretty awesome. Below is an almost dried-up river. We took hundreds of photos here!
After a hearty meal, you’ll be on your way. Don’t forget to tell the driver to drop you off at the DENR station
Then, register at the DENR
At the DENR office, register and pay the 200 pesos DENR fee. You will then be asked to watch a video orientation regarding the dos and don’ts when hiking Mt Pulag.
Here, you can also buy some souvenirs and shirts. If you want to wear that “I survived Mt Pulag” shirt for the photoshoot at the summit, go for it. My friends bought theirs and wore it to the peak.
If you don’t have tents, you can also rent some here.
Afterwards, visit the Ranger Station
From DENR, ride a habal-habal to the ranger station. The usual fare is 500 per person.
We were quite lucky since we found a van on the way to the Ranger Station. We paid 350 pesos each.
Once you arrive at the Ranger Station, you’ll be paying for the guide, camping, and entrance fees.
It’s time to start hiking!
After eating lunch, we started hiking. We chose the Ambangeg Trail since it’s the easiest and the shortest trail to the summit.
Hike to Camp 2 will take 4 to 6 hours depending on how fast you can walk while another 1-2 hours from Camp 2 to Mt Pulag’s summit.
There are two other trails namely Akiki Trail and Tawangan Trail. If you want more challenge try these.
On the way, we passed by berries, saw vegetable terraces, and tons of trees. As a girl who grew up in the mountains, I’d say the trail was quite easy. There were only a handful of steep areas.
Talking with our guide, we found out that most of the language spoken near Mt Pulag is Kalanguya, Kankanaey, and Ibaloi.
I only know how to speak Kankanaey so when I heard him talk to other guides in Kalanguya, I was in awe. It sounds a bit like a combination of Ibaloi and Kankanaey.
Rest in Camp 1
During the trek we noticed the sceneries changing, from pine trees to bonsai-shaped trees.
Our guide told us that we had entered the montane forest which has a collection of various flora, mosses, and the weirdly shaped trees. After two hours, we finally reached camp 1.
The plants here were so pretty, some I know of and some I’ve never seen before.
While resting, we played some cards and moved on after 20 minutes of rest.
Enjoy the trail and take some photos
On the way to camp 2, we observed that there are more mosses and bonsai-shaped trees.
The landscapes were too good to pass. For all those Instagram worthy shots, here are some of the best places to take a picture.
There’s nothing better than taking a photo of these fantastic tree roots! Careful though, you might trip.
I don’t even know how this tree survived growing in this position, but it rocks that enchanting, fairy-like feel. This kind of reminds me of the movie Bridge to Terabithia.
Oldest Moss Tree
See that tree behind us? It’s a moss tree, and it’s supposedly the oldest (according to our guide).
How cool is that? I felt like I had my photo taken with a celebrity.
For the horror-themed photo, try it here. It’s pretty creepy and beautiful at the same time.
I told you.Looks creepy, right?
Moving on. For another two hours, we hiked to reach camp two. We decided to camp here for the night.
From here, you get a glimpse of the summit. There’s a nearby comfort room, latrine rather, and a water source.
We set up our tents, ate some snacks, and went on to find the best spot to watch the sunset.
Just a few meters from the campsite, there is this part where the mossy forest meets the dwarf bamboos. It’s crazy.
We hiked a small hill to get a better view of the summit and there it is.
A word to describe it? Bald. And that’s where the name Pulag came from – the local term “Pul-ag” meaning bald.
While waiting for the sunset, a sea of clouds has gathered below the mountains. What a sight to see.
We were fortunate to get a glimpse of such a beauty. It got us even more excited for what the next day would bring.
I’ve never seen such a beautiful sunset. It was fiery red. It looked like the world was on fire.
That night, the temperature dropped to a freezing point. With all the layers of clothing, and the blanket covering me, I had a really hard time sleeping.
The next morning, we woke up at 2 AM to prepare for the trek to the summit. We hurriedly fixed our bags, put on more layers of clothing, and got our flashlights ready.
Hiking to Mt Pulag Summit
After walking for almost two hours, we finally reached the peak. The sun’s rays were beginning to show.
We can already see the sea of clouds.
What an achievement! We reached the summit and saw the famous sea of clouds. Crossed one stuff off my bucket list. Yehey.
After taking a lot of photographs, enjoying the view and promising to return, we went back to camp, ate breakfast, packed and started the trek back to the ranger station.
We reached the ranger station after almost 4 hours.
We rested, ate lunch and then said our goodbyes to our guide.
After hearing that the group who came before us rented a jeepney going back to Baguio, we asked them if they still had some space. They said yes, but their supposed departure was two hours later.
Because we got too impatient, we chose to walk down the road to the DENR. We’ll ride when the jeep passes by. But that didn’t happen.
Long story short, we walked for two hours hoping that we’d reach the DENR office by then.
We didn’t. We kept asking locals if the DENR office was near, each gave us different answers.
One said, “Yes, just 30 minutes more”. Another said, “You’d have to walk for another 2 hours”.
Eventually, we got too tired and tried to hitchhike a private vehicle. A kind driver took pity on us and let us ride his van.
We tried giving him some money for the gas as payment, but he declined. If we continued our descent to the DENR office, it might’ve been nightfall before we reached it.
Our first climb to Luzon’s highest mountain will forever remain one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. With all our adventures combined, we spent a total of 1,210 pesos each.
- Medical Certificate – 100 pesos
- Baguio to Ambangeg – 120 pesos
- DENR Fees – 200 pesos
- To Ranger Station – 350 pesos
- Guide Fee – 600 pesos / 5 persons
- Food – 200 pesos
- Ranger Station to DENR – free (hitchhiked)
- Ambangeg to Baguio – 120
- Total = P1,210 each
Update as of November 15, 2018:
Fees collected at Mt Pulag are as follows:
- Entrance fee – 175 pesos per person
- Camping fee – 100 pesos per person
- Environmental fee – 150 pesos per person
- Guide fee – 120 pesos per person
For updated rates, check out Mt Pulag National Park Facebook Page.
Sample Itinerary 1
For those coming from Manila to Mt Pulag, here’s a sample itinerary. If you’re starting your trip in Baguio, you can meet up with your group and ride a van to Kabayan at around 7:00 AM or earlier.
- 23:00 ETD from Bus Terminal
- 05:00 ETA in Baguio City / Have breakfast
- 07:00 ETD from Baguio City via Van to Kabayan
- (van terminal is in the slaughter area)
- 10:00 ETA DENR / Registration / Video Orientation
- 11:30 ETD from DENR to Ranger Station
- 12:30 ETA at Ranger Station / Lunch
- 13:00 Start trek
- 15:00 ETA Camp 1
- 17:00 ETA Camp 2 / Set up camp / View Sunset
- 18:30 Dinner / Socials
- 02:30 Trek to Summit
- 05:30 ETA at Summit / View Sunrise
- 07:00 ETD to Campsite
- 08:00 ETA at Camp 2 / Breakfast
- 09:00 Pack / Start descent to Ranger Station
- 11:00 ETA at Ranger Station/ ETD to DENR
- 11:30 Back at DENR / Log out / Buy Souvenirs
- 12:00 Lunch
- 13:00 ETD to Baguio City
- 14:00 ETA in Baguio City / Buy Souvenirs / Wander around Baguio
- 16:30 Dinner
- 18:00 ETD to Manila
Sample Itinerary 2
On another note, one of our guides suggested another itinerary:
Day 1 – Hike to Camp 2 and reach the summit for sunset viewing. Camp at night in Camp 2.
Day 2 – Hike to one of the nearby summits/hills for sunrise viewing (yes, you can see the sea of clouds here)
Sample Itinerary 3
If you’re planning to stay at one of the homestays near the ranger station for the night, your itinerary might look like this:
Day 1 – Check in to your homestay, eat dinner and sleep early
Day 2 – Depending on your guide, you might have to start your trek at 10 PM or 12 midnight to reach the summit just in time for sunrise.
Tips and Reminders
- Recently, medical certificates are required to ensure that you are in good health before you can start hiking. Be sure to bring one.
- It gets colder as you reach the summit. Temperature can reach zero levels, especially from December to February. Bring a thick jacket. Layer your clothes.
- There are a lot of hikers during the weekends and holidays. It is better to hike during weekdays when there are fewer people.
- Plan ahead. Often the mountain is fully booked due to its popularity, contact PASU to reserve your slots.
Call Mt Pulag National Park Management on the following numbers: 09199951316, 09196315402, 09103010423
- Take your trash with you. Don’t litter. Pick up trash along the way. Help preserve this majestic mountain.
- Most times, it’s raining even when you least expect it. Be ready and bring your raincoat and some zip locks for your gadgets.
What to Bring
- Flashlight and Extra Batteries
- 4-Season Tent (so you don’t have to worry about any moisture seeping into the tent)
- Medical Certificate
- Cook Set and Butane (if you’re planning to camp and cook)
- Trash Bag
- 1-2 Liters of water
- Kitchen Utensils
- Trail Snacks (Bring lots!)
- Ziploc Bags
Our Camera Gear
- Mirrorless Camera: Fujifilm XT3
- Lenses: Fujifilm Fujinon kit lens (18-55mm) | Fujinon 35mm f2 | Fujinon 50mm f2
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro 2
- GoPro: GoPro Hero Black 7
- Power Bank: Romoss Powerbank
- Camera Backpack: Case Logic Camera and Laptop Backpack
- Monopod: Ifootage Cobra 2 a180
- Mic: Rode VideoMicro
- Gimbal: Zhiyun Weebill-S
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