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Hike to the Playground of the Gods – Mt. Pulag, Philippines

Tremendously rising 2,922 MASL is Mount Pulag – the third highest mountain in the Philippines. Mt. Pulag, prominently known as “the playground of the gods”, borders the provinces of Benguet, Nueva Vizcaya and Ifugao. It has four major trails – Ambangeg, Akiki, Ambaguio and Tawangan trail. It is nestled in a variety of flora and fauna, and features sea of clouds, mossy forests and vast grasslands.

Every great “Mt. Pulag experience” consists of a nice weather; peaceful camping; feeling the solitude of sunrise at the summit; morning coffee overlooking the sea of clouds and the Milky Way galaxy view, but it was a different story for us – our Mt. Pulag hiking experience was definitely a worth remembering one, it was a rainy June when we conquered it.

Mount Pulag Specifications:

  • Major Climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-2
  • Hours to summit / Days required: 3-5 hours to summit; 2-3 hours down /  1-2 days
  • Major jump-off: Ambangeg Ranger Station, Bokod, Benguet
  • Trail system: Grand Cordillera Trail, Section 3

Our 2D1N Mt. Pulag climb via Ambangeg Trail started when we departed Baguio City at 5:00 AM. Before reaching our destination, we had quick stopovers to Ambuklao Dam, Jang Jang Bridge and Daclan Sulfur Spring.

 

Jang Jang Bridge is a 290 meters long and considered as one of the longest hanging bridges in Benguet.
Daclan Sulfur Spring is a small hot spring consists of bubbling mud that emits sulfuric gases.

We stopped by Dennis Molintas Memorial Hospital for a medical certificate since the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) requires this before the climb. We visited DENR Pulag for orientation and payment of fees, you need to pay PHP80 per person for the environmental fee and PHP120 guide fee per person.

We arrived at the Babadac Ranger Station 9:00 AM, this is where all the camping areas are located and served as a jump-off point. We were not allowed to camp in the camping grounds due to the unpredictable weather so, we stayed in Breezy Homestay, we first ate lunch at a native’s house and had some rest.

Originally, our itinerary was a 1:00 AM ascend to anticipate the sunrise, but it was raining incessantly so we have to move it at 3:00 AM.

Note: Since you will start the trek in a dark hour, you need to bring headlamps or flashlights.

Way to the top:

Mt. Pulag being the 3rd highest peak in the Philippines is inhabited by different tribes such as the Kankana-eys, Ibalois, Kalanguya,  Karao, Ifugaos and the Ilocanos. The indigenous people of Benguet consider the mountain to be an immaculate place.

After a short briefing from our guide, we prepared for the summit assault. The way going to the summit is slippery and muddy, the hike is long and tiresome, be ready with your stamina. Another thing is the freezing cold air you will feel, the weather is very harsh during our climb.

According to the orientation, you will encounter 3 layers of surroundings in Mt. Pulag, the pine forest, mossy forest and lastly, the grasslands. Also, there are three camping sites at Mt. Pulag (Camp 1, 2 and 3). Camping fee is PHP50 per person.

It was still dark when we arrived at camp 1, we walked through the mossy forest and encountered different kinds of plants and trees. After an hour, we arrived at camp 2 and rested for a couple of minutes.

I put on 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of leggings, gloves, a cap, 3 layers of top and a waterproof fleece jacket but it was severely cold. To be honest, we were just hiking for around two hours and my rubber shoes is already soaking wet, I can really feel my knees shaking and was scared of getting hypothermia especially when we’re near the summit.

The trail going to the summit is steep, you will need to put an extra effort to climb it. We could barely see anything going to the peak and even when we got to the summit, we only see heavy fog and feel strong winds. There was no chance of clearing, we were not rewarded with a chance of sea of clouds and stunning sunset.

We only stayed at the summit for just 15-20 mins because it’s bitter cold and still raining.

We went back and arrived at the ranger station at 11:30 AM.

I didn’t take a lot of photos from our hike, I’m more concerned on how will I survive the climb (hahaha).

So are you expecting for a sea of clouds? Instagrammable landscape photos? Peaceful camping while overlooking the Milky Way galaxy view? Or perfect sunrise? Mt. Pulag will not always give these to you – how about a dance in the rain (literally) and an indescribable feeling after a struggling experience? The hike to the playground of the gods was crazy, very challenging and full of adventure, but it was definitely my best hike experience.

What to bring:

✔️ Medical Certificate indicating “Fit to Climb”
✔️ Water Proof Jacket, Fleece Jacket, Rain Gear
✔️Headlamps
✔️Bonnet, Gloves, Extra Socks
✔️Plastic Bag (for personal trash)
✔️Eating Utensils
✔️Oxycan (if needed, available at Mercury Drug)
✔️Emergency Blanket
✔️Medicines

Travel Details:

We availed our tours from Layag Malaya Backpackers

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LayagMalayaBackpackers/

Contact Numbers:

09175328838
09757025347
09171678413

Updated Rates: (as of June 2019)

Weekends/Holidays*
Manila Pickup
3500php/pax (Tent Accommodation)
3800php/pax (Homestay Accommodation)

Baguio Pickup
2700php/pax (Tent Accommodation)
3000php/pax (Homestay Accommodation)

PACKAGE INCLUSIONS:
✔️Roundtrip Transportation (Manila to Ranger Station/Baguio to Ranger Station)
✔️DENR Entrance Fee
✔️Cultural Fee
✔️Environmental Fee
✔️Guide Fee
✔️Camping fee*
✔️4 SAGANA Hosted Meal
✔️Logistics and Coordinator fee
✔️Accommodation (Tent/HOMESTAY)
✔️LMB First Aider-Coordinator/s

 


When we visit a place, let us all adhere to the motto:
“Take nothing but pictures. Kill nothing but time. Leave nothing but footprints.”
If you have questions, ask me and feel free to leave comment in the comment box.
Thank you for reading, please check my other blog entries too!

About the author

Aspiring to travel as much as she aspires to pursue her dreams, Hannah is fascinated with planned adventures and shares tidbits of her travel experiences and photographs on this website. Outside of travel, she mastered finishing an entire season of a TV series in one go or replenishes her soul by indulging herself in reading well-written novels and substantial non-fiction books.

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