mountaineer and student. Hiking is what relieves him of his stress in school and he loves to climb, both short and long treks.
If you are looking for the ultimate outdoor experience in Cordillera, then nothing will compare to Sagada. It offers a lot of experience for tourists such as caves, underground rivers, waterfalls, rice terraces and also the mountains in this place. Here, you will see a lot of tourists because of the place’s natural beauty. The first thing that you have to visit in Sagada is view of the hanging coffins. This is their culture of laying their dead to rest instead of burying them deep in the ground. Here you will see coffins that are centuries old.
Your next destination should be Sumaguing cave which is the main attraction of Sagada, there are a lot of caves in Sagada and you should experience spelunking in this huge cave. You will see a lot of beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. Going down this cave is tough but you should see how tougher it is to go back up. It will be quite an adventure and you will notice that some of the formations in this cave will resemble bears, elephants, pregnant woman, turtle head, pig pens and many others. You also see how strong the guides are. There is a part where you have to step on your guide’s legs just to go down, imagine if you are 10 in your group. The adventure will take about 3-4 hours and you will be scared when you see the mouth of the cave but you should not worry.
The last destination is Marlboro Country where you can see wild horses running around on the summit of Lamagan. Going up to the summit is just a short climb and you will see grass where you can sit and watch the wild horses. Sagada has so many tourist attractions besides the one that I mentioned. They also say that Sagada has more to offer than what the public sees. There are things that are being kept secret and only a few have seen it because they want to keep it as they are.
Cordillera is so much blessed with beautiful mountains. They are not only beautiful in our eyes but they are also very beautiful to trek. It has the 2 highest mountains here in Luzon and both of them are very satisfying to climb. Mt Tabayoc is located in Kabayan Benguet, near Pulag. If you are a lake lover or if you love to swim, then you are lucky. Here, you will see not only 1 or 2 lakes, but 4 lakes.
Mt.Tabayoc via Ballay is a three day hike but the first day will be very easy because you can camp in Lake Tabeo, and there you can do whatever you like, swim, go socialize with your teammates etc. Lake Tabeo is located 2206 ft above sea level so expect the temperature to be cold in here. You will enter a thick rainforest before reaching Lake Tabeo, it was a good thing that I was wearing a pants or I would have a lot of cuts. You will reach the summit in day 2 but you won’t get to see the sunrise because it’s a 3 hour assault to the summit.
Upon your descent, you can explore the three other lakes which are all very pristine. I can say that Ambulalakao is the best of them because it is the cleanest lake that I have seen so far. Once we were back in Ballay, I noticed that the hill was much like the grassland in Mt. Pulag. I discovered from my teammates that it was called Junior Pulag by most hikers because of this feature. If you reach Ballay near sunset, then you can stay over a local house there. They will charge just a small fee and our immersion with them was fun. Or, you can also camp at Lake Tabeo like in Day 1.
Of all the trails going to the summit of Mt.Pulag, Ambangeg trail is the easiest. This is the reason why it is also called the executive’s trail. You can modify it to Akiki-Ambangeg Traverse for it to be challenging, but if you are a climbing novice and you just want to see the famous sunrise of Mt.Pulag, then this should be the trail that you follow. You can accomplish this trail in less than a day, but I suggest that you make it a 2 day climb to enjoy the view of sunrise in Mt.Pulag. The trek to the saddle, where most mountaineers camp because it is near the summit, is just about 4 hours.
The trail is just like a short version of the Akiki trail. Here, you will also pass through a mossy forest where you can see several kinds of lichens. After you reach camp 1, everything that you will see is grass. Your eyes will literally feast with grass because it’s all that you will see from there. Once you are in the saddle, you should set up your tents immediately and go inside because it is really cold in this area. So you should make sure that you bring jackets and other apparels to help you warm up. The campsite can accommodate a lot of groups and there is also a latrine, the only campsite here in the Philippines where I saw a latrine.
In the morning, waking up early is necessary if you want to see one of the best things that you will see in your entire life. The view at the summit of Mt.Pulag is legendary and your jaws will surely drop because of its grandeur. You are now at the top of Luzon and you will have a view of a sea of clouds. You can also have a view of the different Cordilleran Mountains at the summit. Some of them are Mt.Amuyao, Mt.Napuluan and Kapiligan, Mt.Tabayoc and Mt.Ugu. There are no right words to describe the beauty of Mt.Pulag, you just have to see it for yourself.a
I haven’t hiked outside Cordillera that much but there are a lot of awesome mountains out the region too. The nearest mountain to Cordillera is in Nueva Vizcaya and it is slowly becoming a climbing destination by enthusiasts. You can go there without a guide if you know something about trail following because the trail is becoming more obvious because of the increasing number of hikers. You should be in good condition when hiking because this trail will be difficult if it is your first time to engage in such activity.
While hiking to the summit, you will find yourself in a beautiful forest that looks like the forest that you will encounter in Mt.Pulag when taking the Akiki Trail. There are a lot of bird species in this area that is why the government declared it as a protected area. After 2-3 hours of hiking, you will find a water station where you can rest. You will encounter quite a few water stations while going up so you don’t need to fill up your water jugs every time that you see one. It will take you approximately five hours to reach “Haring Bato” or “King Rock”. This is the view deck of Mt.Palali and here you will see several of the mountains of Cordillera and also Nueva Vizcaya and nearby provinces. It is a magnificent view and you will appreciate more of the mountain here in this area. You can set up your camp in the near grassland or you can continue hiking for one hour to reach the summit of the mountain.
There are a lot of flowers in this mountain area so please do not litter while in the trail. I am sure that you will have a beautiful hike in this area so in return, you should take care of its surroundings.
Mt.Kabuyao, always mistaken as Cabuyao, is probably the most camped mountain in Baguio City. Access to its camping grounds is very easy and even hikers with little or no experience can trek there without breaking a sweat. It is very easy to locate this mountain because of the two disc shaped radio transmitters or more known as “ra-dar” by the local people. After seeing this landmark, you only have to hike down for 30mins or so and you will reach the camping site in the area. This is also the most abused campsite in Baguio because a lot of tourists don’t pick their trashes and so the campsite is slowly deteriorating.
This is a very interesting campsite because of the cave that you will see there. It is just a small cave where you can enter and leave quickly if you want to. This cave serves as a burial ground of the Igorot ancestors. This is why you will see bones inside the cave although most of them are now lost because of, again, the visitors of the mountain. The campsite if very convenient and spacious, it can accommodate up to 20 people.
The campsite offers a scenic view of the city of Baguio and Mt.Sto Tomas. You should watch out for the lights of Baguio, the city will look like a giant Christmas light. You should also be able to view the summit of Mt.Pulag from this mountain. Also, the sunrise is majestic in this place. While the cool air breeze is in your face, you can’t help but smile at the beauty of the sunrise. Kabuyao can also be your route to Mt.Sto Tomas; it will just be a 2 kilometer trek.
Of all the mountains in Cordillera, there is one mountain that stands out to mountaineers because of its difficulty to hike and its view, Mt.Amuyao. It is the 10th highest peak in the Philippines and you can sneak a peek along your way to Banaue. You will also be able to view a lot of rice terraces along your way to the summit.
The traverse of Mt.Amuyao is at least three days to finish but you should do it in four for you to enjoy the view instead of stressing your way to Kambulo village. Our adventure starts at 6:00 am when we ride the bus going to Bontoc where we have an estimated time of arrival of 11:00 am. We will have our lunch there and take a Jeep(a Philippine mode of transportation) going to Barlig where we will start our trek around 4pm. We will trek for 3 hours before we have our dinner which are already packed and our estimated time of arrival at the summit is 10pm which is late but possible because of the trail. We will start trekking again at 8am and have our lunch by 12pm at this beautiful river. We expect to reach Pat-Yay by 4pm and there we will set our camp and have our dinner and socials. By 12pm of Day 3, we should be at Kambulo village for lunch. We will be at Batad by 5pm and there we will have our dinner and sleep at the inn. Since its still 5pm, we will visit Tappiyah Falls. We will start hiking again at 730am of the next day and reach the “saddle” by 9:30am where we will take the jeep going to Banaue and another Jeep going to Bontoc at 11am. We will take a bus going to Baguio around 3:30pm and reach Baguio by 8:30pm.
Guides have a higher rate of 1,200php/day because the trail is really difficult and only a few of the guides know the trail. Most of them guide hikers by the usual route.
Day 1 was a fairly easy climb because most travels were made via vehicles such as jeep and bus. In fact, a lot of good sceneries can already be seen while travelling to Banaue. We started trekking around 4pm and we trekked for 3 hours before we prepared for our dinner. The trail was very wide and there were a lot of rice terraces that can be viewed. They say that this trail is well maintained because of the relay tower that is near the summit. It will be near impossible to get lost in this trail because of the electricity wire that you can follow up to the summit.
The only thing that I found difficult about this trail is the paved steps which were dubbed as stairways to heaven. You will encounter a lot of these steps; it is a good thing that we had a training climb for this. The hardest was the wooden steps because it didn’t seem to end, take note that we were carrying heavy bags on our back. After we had our dinner, we trekked for another two hours before reaching the campsite.
It was already past 10pm when we reached the summit, night hiking is very possible in this trail because of these steps, just make sure that you bring your flash lights, you don’t need to worry because there aren’t any thorny plants in this part of the climb.
Of the 4 Cordillera’s Great Traverses, Mt Ugo has the lowest elevation but this does not mean that it has the least challenge. The mountain is located at both Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet. The trail to the summit is well established because hundreds of hikers climb this mountain every year. Your trek will begin at Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya which is 1-hour away from Baguio City. You can get your guides at the police station where you will also need to register because they now require it for mountaineers. The trail going to the Indulpit village is the hardest because of the steep terrain and it is a continuous ascent. This a bit difficult but very rewarding because of the fresh smell of the Pine trees and the magnificent view of Cordillera’s different unnamed mountains. After about 4 hours of endless ascent, you will finally reach Indulpit village. Here, you can stare at the summit of Mt.Pulag. You should make sure that the weather is fair while climbing this mountain because it is when it will offer the best view of Cordillera. After that, the trail will be a lot easier. You will even pass Mt.Samiento and then soon enough, the campsite.
There is a water source near your campsite and it’s a good idea that you refill your water jugs before your assault to the summit because it will be the last water source. Climbing this mountain looks easy because all your perspirations will be taken away by the beautiful view along the trail. You will reach the summit after 2 hours. The trail is very similar to that of the Ambangeg trail to Mt.Pulag. Mt. Tabayoc, Mt. Pulag, and Timbak can all be viewed from here.
Mt. Sto Tomas is Baguio’s highest peak with a height of 2256. If you are at the summit of the mountain, you can get a view of Baguio City and also a sneak peek of La Union and Lingayen Gulf of South China Sea. It is Baguio’s most hiked mountain, alongside Mt.Cabuyao, because of its accessibility and there are different trails to reach its summit. Most hikers would ride a jeep to Green Valley and then hike all the way up. But I think the best trail is by traversing Kennon Road. As a mountaineer, this was my first climb and it was not that easy or that hard.We started our hike at the Hydro where there was a hanging bridge. We hiked for 3 hours before we reach the campsite and there we took our dinner and socials before resting for the night. We continued hiking in the morning for about 2 hours before we reached the summit. As the famous mountaineer blogger here in the Philippines said: “The best time to be at Mt. Sto Tomas is morning because clouds obscure the views in the afternoon, even misleading some hikers because of the poor visibility”. Maybe this was the reason why our team leader chose the morning to climb to the peak.
There is a water station half way your trek that is why you don’t need to worry about running out of water. After climbing the mountain, we started our descent which was an easy one because the road was paved. There was no need to walk in a single file anymore. There was this trail though, that we called “shortcut to hell” because this trail was steep, but it decreased our trekking time by half. After the shortcut, we walked on the road once again until we reached Green valley and there we waited for a Jeep that will take us to the town.
There are plenty of difficult climbs that you are going to encounter during your adventure as a mountaineer. If you know that you are going to a climb that is beyond your past experience, you and your team should set up a training climb. It is very important that you do this because it will condition your body for the difficult climb and it will help you prevent cramping in the actual climb.
In planning to climb Mt.Amuyao, the best mountain to hold your training climb is the Andolor trail of Mt.Sto Tomas or Kabuyao. Andolor is a very difficult route as I said in my past post. I can say that when you survive this trail, then you can definitely take on the Akiki trail of Mt.Pulag. Since Mt.Amuyao offers more challenge than the Akiki trail of Pulag, then I suggest that you quicken your pace in the Andolor trail.
The Andolor trail is a 2-day itinerary hike where you hike for 8 hours for the first day and then another 8 for the second day. If you really want to train for Mt. Amuyao, then you should try reducing your time to an hour or two. I tell you that this is very effective in climbing one of Cordillera’s four great traverses. You can do this or you can do the usual Andolor trek and the Kennon Road-Green Valley Traverse of Mt. Sto Tomas in a span of two weeks.
Our Day 2 started around 5am because we wanted to see the sunrise in the summit of Mt.Amuyao. The sunrise was very interesting to watch because you can literally see a vast ocean of clouds and you can see the sun rising above the clouds. It is very cold at the summit so you have to make sure that you bring jackets and socks, or even gloves. We have to wait until the weather suited us before we started our trek. Today was our descent from the mountain but I can say that it is harder than our ascent.
There were a lot of leeches and bees in the forest plus the roots were all slippery because of the moist. It is a very difficult descent but it if you appreciate the solitude in the forest, you will definitely love it. The trail was less obvious because but thanks to our guide we made it through the forest. We had our lunch at the river. The water in the river is very cold and also very refreshing, especially after the hard trek from the forest.
After our lunch, we started trekking again until we reached the Pat-yay community and we camped there. Pat-yay is very beautiful especially because of the rice terraces that can be viewed from there. The people there are also very accommodating; in fact, there is a house there which can be used as shelter by campers but we still used our tents. Day 2 was a short 7-hour hike. Short because the view is very beautiful and the river will wash away all your struggles for the day.
Day 3 was the last day where we trekked because the 4th day was dedicated to bus rides back to Baguio. The first part of the trek was going to Cambulo which an ascent. You will encounter another forest which is as challenging as the ascent itself. This is because of the muddy trail and loose soil. The leeches are gone by this time but the bees are still everywhere. Reaching the rocky part which is another hard part because there is no vegetation and the gravel is very free. You will also walk across the rice terraces, where you can lose your balance while moving forward so you have to be really careful in walking. It will take you about 4-5 hours of trek before you reach Cambulo
Once you reach Cambulo, you can have your lunch because the trip there is very difficult. You don’t have to worry the next part of the trip because it will be an easy one. A bonus in this part of the trek is the beautiful view of the rice terraces. Cambulo is slowly becoming a tourist attraction. Every sweat and pain that you had for the past 3 days will be paid off once you see the grand rice terraces of Batad, which like an amphitheater. Batad is one of Cordillera’s prides that is why you can find a lot of souvenirs once you get there. We got there around 4pm and we went immediately to the Tappiyah falls because our group loves swimming, especially in between climbs. We ate our dinner and also slept at the inn. The next day, we went back to Baguio and ate at Evelyn’s Halal Foods, a good place to eat specially after a climb.
Baguio is known for its number of hiking and running enthusiasts, but another recreation that outdoor junkies love to do in this city is Biking. There are a lot of trails that you can follow when biking in Baguio City, of course there is the road which is the easiest if you know how to manage yourself in traffic. You can also bike to Mt.Cabuyao by taking the Green Valley route. If you want to bike in a trail with a lot of obstacles, then you should try Camp John Hay’s infamous Yellow trail. A lot of experienced bikers and runners take this trail because of its hurdles like fat roots, rocks and rickety bridges. Despite these hardships that you will encounter along the trail I can say that it is safe to attempt this route, because Baguio’s environmentalists try to maintain the area.
At the start of the trail, you will see a lot of horses because the beginning of the trail is located at the horseback riding station. There will be a lot of ups and downs and you will pass along a lot of pine trees while biking or even running in this trail. It is an 8km route but it can take you 3 hours to finish this trail if you are running.
They say that it was named yellow trail because of the stones that are found there. They say that these are dying stones though I don’t know if this is just a legend. You can also see a lot of panoramic views of the mountains of Baguio while you are in this trail. You will surely enjoy hiking this trail because of its peacefulness.
Remember to smile to a fellow biker or runner while you are following this trail, this is a common courtesy among the outdoor enthusiasts of Baguio City. Try not to litter anything while you are in this part of the area, this is one of Baguio’s most loved trails and a lot of running events are held in this area.
Challenge yourself! This is the unwritten mountaineer’s creed that is on the mind of every hiker.
We know that there can be a lot of trails for reaching the peak of a mountain and that most beginners hike through the fastest route. In going to Mt. Cabuyao and Mt. Sto. Tomas of Baguio City, Benguet, there are easy trails, fair trails, and of course, there is the Andolor Trail. If you have good cardio and enough hiking experience, then you are now ready to face one of Cordillera’s toughest trails. The said route to Mt. Cabuyao and Sto. Tomas is extreme because aside from the never ending road, you will also endure a lot of leeches along the trail.
Aside from this trials, I can say that your climb will be fun. You can enjoy freshing up in a lot of water stations and you can also take a bath in what the climbers call “river” before you start your actual ascent.
There are also a lot of lemon trees along the way and you can gather them if you like because the natives won’t mind it.
You also have two choices for you campsite, you can camp near where the cows eat their grass, it is a clearing, or you can camp in the saddle (just be cautious if you climb during the wet season in the Philippines). You can also enjoy the view of Mt. Pulag, Tabayoc, Singkalsa, and Panotoan which are the four highest mountains in the Philippines.
Dare to trek through Andolor and you will surely have an adrenaline filled sight seeing.
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