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.
How To Get There
Ride a Van to Kabayan
First, from Baguio, we rode a van going to Kabayan for 120 pesos. On the way, we stopped by Jang Jang Eatery for breakfast and a much-needed bathroom break.
Behind the restaurant, we found this hanging bridge. Pretty awesome. Below is an almost dried-up river. We took hundreds of photos here. It’s one of those must-take-a-photo moments. Haha.
After a hearty meal, we went on our way. We stopped by Ambangeg and proceeded to the DENR office.
Go to DENR
Next, drop by DENR office for orientation. DENR collects a fee amounting to about 200 pesos per person. After paying, you will watch a video orientation regarding the do’s and don’ts in Mt Pulag.
Here, they sell souvenirs and shirts. If you want to wear that “I survived Mt Pulag” shirt for the photo shoot 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.
Reach the Ranger Station
Afterwards, we had to go to the Ranger Station to start the hike. Usually, you have to ride a habal-habal to bring you to there. The fare is 500 per person. (Update: I heard the fare now is at 250 pesos)
Since we were on a budget, we asked one van driver if he could bring us to the Ranger Station. Thankfully, he accepted since he was already on his way there to fetch some hikers. We paid him 350 pesos each. Yahoo!
Upon arrival at the Ranger Station, we hired a guide for 600 pesos.
After eating lunch, we started hiking. We chose the Ambangeg Trail since it’s easiest and shortest trail to the summit. Hike to Camp 2 will only take 2-4 hours 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 pretty easy. (LOL)
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
On the way to camp 2, we observed there were more mosses and bonsai-shaped trees.
We took a lot of photos, especially our male friends. Haha.
The landscapes were too good to pass. For all those Instagram worthy shots, here are some of the best places to take a picture.
a. Stony Path
This is probably the easiest background to take a photo. Just stand there, with your back facing the camera. Viola! Imagine. It gives off that unique vibe.
b. Tree Roots
There’s nothing better than taking a photo of these fantastic tree roots! Careful though, you might trip.
c. Horizontal Tree
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.
d. Oldest Moss Tree
See that tree behind us? It’s a moss tree, and it’s supposedly the oldest. How cool is that? It felt like taking a photo with a celebrity.
e. Creepy Forest
For the horror-themed photo, try it here. It’s pretty creepy and beautiful at the same time.
I told you.
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 a right 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. Any tree barely grows near the summit. 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 have 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 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 clothes and got our flashlights ready.
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 ranger station after almost 4 hours. Then after taking a rest, we said our goodbyes to our guide.
After hearing that the group that 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 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”. Each of us 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 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.
- Medical Certificate 100 pesos
- Baguio to Ambangeg 120 pesos
- DENR Fees 200 pesos
- To Ranger Station 350 pesos
- Guide Fee 600 pesos / five persons
- Food 200
- Ranger Station to DENR free (hitchhiked)
- Ambangeg to Baguio 120
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.
For those coming from Manila, here’s a sample itinerary
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
13:00 ETD to Baguio City
14:00 ETA in Baguio City / Buy Souvenirs / Wander around Baguio
18:00 ETD to Manila
Tips and Reminders
- Recently, medical certificates are required to ensure that you are in good health before you can start hiking
- 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 rains. Be ready and bring with you your raincoat and zip locks for your gadgets.
What to Bring
- Flashlight and Extra Batteries
- Medical Certificate
- Cook set and butane
- Trash Bag
- 1-2 Liters of water
- Kitchen Utensils
- Trail Snacks
- Ziploc bags
Have you seen the sea of clouds in Mt Pulag yet?
Johanes is a digital nomad and a web content writer who loves to go on spontaneous travels. She also likes to go camp under the stars and play with her dog and cats.