Mount Pulag: Ambangeg Trail Guide and Itinerary - The Wander Hacker

Mount Pulag: Ambangeg Trail Guide and Itinerary

Mount Pulag ambangeg trail

Mount Pulag – I’m sure that every veteran mountaineer, newbie hikers, trekker and travel enthusiast here in the Philippines had once a “Mount Pulag” on their bucket list.  Mount Pulag is probably the most visited mountain here in the Philippines because of its undoubtedly magnificent scenery, marvelous grassland, the sea of clouds and the Milky way galaxy that you could actually see at the dawn by the naked eye even if you don’t have a DSLR camera. The beauty of this Majestic mountain is ineffable. Mount Pulag is Luzon’s highest peak and country’s third highest mountain with an elevation of 2922 MASL. It took approximately 8 hours before we reach the summit.

Mount Pulag Summit
Our Group photo from the summit of the third highest mountain in the Philippines

Kindly watch my vlog below 🙂

(March 24, 2017)  We’ve booked a trip going to Baguio via Victory Liner not just to experience the famous “Sea of clouds” of Mount Pulag but to experience the feeling of reaching the top of the third highest mountain here in the Philippines. First of all, if you’re going to commute, It’s advisable to reserve a seat as early as possible prior to your desired date since the terminal is a bit crowded especially during peak season. In our case, we booked a trip 2 days before the date of our hike. We were so worried at first because there are no available tickets for our preferred schedule and their website was having technical difficulties that time, so we had no choice but to go to the terminal and buy tickets.

FROM MANILA TO BAGUIO

We left Victory liner around 10:30 PM. I slept for about 4 hours of our journey. We arrived at Baguio at exactly 4:00 AM. Honestly, it was my very first time to step in the City, and I didn’t expect the 14°C or below temperature! It’s so freezing! Imagine you are in a room with a full blast aircon, so don’t forget to bring a jacket. Luckily, there’s a bonfire there, so we sat and we took the opportunity to warm our body while waiting for the Jeep that will transfer us to the Rangers station.

Benguet

The jeep arrived at 5:30 AM. We packed up our things before we ride the jeepney. Some of my colleagues have experienced hiking. Nevertheless, you still cannot hide the fact that most of us were filled with mixed fear and excitement especially me since Mount Pulag is a third highest mountain in the Philippines and it’s because it was actually my first time to hike and I don’t have any practice yet with the lower mountains. It was a total fulfillment for me because even if I’m a first timer, I am proud to say that I survived and conquer Mount Pulag.

THE HANGING BRIDGE

We arrived at Ambuklao at exactly 7:00 AM and we had a stop over at Jang Jang eatery then we took our breakfast. The road filled with fog and it’s beautiful to see because we didn’t experience it in Metro Manila since it only offers a smog not a fog in the morning.

benguet fog

At the back of the eatery, there is a metal made long hanging bridge, it is about 50-60 ft high and it will surely weaken your knees and make your legs feel dizzy.  The hanging bridge only accommodates 10 persons at a time. It was so high! At first, you may feel fear and nervous especially when you have an acrophobia or fear of heights. But don’t be afraid, just look straight and don’t look down until you reach the other end. It was just an appetizer for more adventure awaits in Mount Pulag.

Benguet hanging bridge
View from hanging bridge

DENR PREPARATION AND ORIENTATION

We arrived at DENR at 8:30 AM. Since Mount Pulag is a part of the National Integrated Protected Areas Programme, DENR registration and orientation is required for trekkers, hikers, and climbers. It’s very important to inform climbers on what are the do’s and don’t’s during the hike.

DENR MT PULAG

Here are some of the DENR rules for Mount Pulag hikers.

  • No fires, camping, swimming, or bathing near lake or streams.
  • Wash away from the water sources
  • Minimize use of soap
  • Do not dispose waste near water sources
  • No spitting
  • Pack out all garbage and food waste
  • Remove all traces of group and personal presence
  • Leave what you find
  • Uphold the sanctity of Mount Pulag

Reminders from DENR

  • Visitors are required to register and secure a permit at the visitor’s information center before proceeding
  • All drivers ferrying tourists must have their vehicles inspected before entering and exiting from the protected area premises.
  •  Collecting of plants and other types of wildlife is strictly prohibited.
  • Check drinking water and food packs
  • Camping in the grassland is Strictly prohibited.

NOTE: No camping on Friday to Sunday at Came 1,2 and 3. If you want to camp on weekends, they only allowing climbers for camping at the ranger station.

Climbers with heart ailment and hypertension are advised not to climb Mount Pulag.

Mount Pulag DENR

I noticed that there’s a lot of photos posted on the wall of DENR office. It seems like it was a picture of missing people but it was actually just a souvenir to prove that you came from Mount Pulag, you can also post your photos as well after the hike.

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Anyway, if you forgot to bring your gloves, jacket, bonnet or any important things that you might be needed during your hike, don’t be worried, there’s a store below DENR. 🙂

RANGERS STATION 

After the orientation at DENR, we headed to the ranger’s camp and that was around 9:45 AM. I watched from the jeep with my head resting against the window. I rolled my eyes keeping my gaze out. The road throughout our journey was so tight, rough and uphill causing vehicles to move forward slowly and difficult.

Mount pulag ranger station

Some part of the road is laying on the edge of the mountain, although it is a bit scary, We can’t help ourselves but just mesmerized by the beautiful landscape and panoramic view outside the window. The man-made rice terraces were so astonishing. I can’t stop thinking and wondering how our ancestors made something like this that is truly amazing.  Honestly, it was my first time to visit Cordillera region and I was stunned by the beauty of nature.

We arrived at the Rangers camp at 10:45 am. I checked my phone and the temperature is about 19°C! and yes, the time was 10:45 AM. Compared to Manila, the temperature would hit approximately 30°C or even more as same as the same in Benguet. A cool breeze gently touches my face is simply relaxing. We started to set up our tent then we took a rest from our long hours of journey.

Rangers Camp

Since it’s gonna take a long time to wait, we decided to create a parody music video of “Ikaw nga” by South Border since South border is also popularly known for their bonnet. Watch the video below 😀

Anyway, we availed a package tour.

The transportation and foods are included in our package tour; from breakfast, lunch up to dinner.

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AWAITED NIGHT

I was about to capture the stars, but unfortunately, there’s a great white fog covering the brightness of the stars in the dark sky. However, you can still take a photo of millions of stars at the Camp 3 of Mount Pulag. The sky is totally dark and it is best for star gazing. I will show you later. By the way, don’t forget to bring a flashlight, lamp or headlight when you go outside your camp.

Ranger station at night

THE AMBANGEG TRAIL

Compared to Tabeyo, Babaok, and Akiki, the other trails, they say that the Ambangeg Trail is the easiest trail going to the summit of Mount Pulag. But based on our own experience, Ambangeg trail is not that easy as you think. From the rangers station, the hike lasts for about 4-5 hours up to the summit of Mount Pulag. Some hikers just stayed at Camp 2 since they couldn’t move further into camp 3 because of struggling with breathing from the first part of the hike.

A WALK TO REMEMBER

The call time is 12:00 AM and we should start hiking at 1:00 AM, but we started to hike at exactly 2:30 AM since DENR didn’t allow visitors to hike simultaneously. They only allow a maximum of 500 hikers per days so it’s better to have a reservation 1 or 2 months prior to your desired date of the hike. The trails from the ranger station up to camp 1 almost weaken my knees and it’s so exhausting(Sorry first timer here!) hahaha. Finally, we’ve reached the camp 1 at 3:15 AM and thankfully, we got some opportunity to take some rest after more than 1 hour of walking, trekking, and hiking. I thought it was the end of my life. It was so exhausting as in. But I assumed that was just an appetizer of our long journey to the summit. After 15 minutes, we continue to walk and we arrived at the camp 2 around 4:35 AM.

CAMP TWO

It was more exhausting since the distance between camp 1 and camp 2 is farther than rangers station going to the camp 1. We passed through what they called mossy forest, aside from its darkness, the trail is also muddy and slippery.

When we arrived at the camp 2, I was surprised when I saw a galactic or interstellar cloud in the sky, It was like a dust and it is actually visible to the naked eye and I was like “Eto na ba yun!??”. I started to setup the tripod and configure my camera settings immediately. It was a dream came true! Another check on my bucket list! Please see photos below.

My milky way shot was taken at the camp 2 around 4:40 AM. The best time to capture milky way is around 2:00 AM to 4:00 AM.

Mount pulag milky way
Shot with Canon 70D | Camera Settings: ET: 30 sec | A: f/3.5 | ISO: 2500

If you have a camera that can be able to take a long exposure shot such as DSLR or high-end phone with pro features like ISO and shutter speed configuration, you could also take a photo of a milky way galaxy. It is better to bring a tripod so the shot would be clear, steady and accurate.

Mount pulag milky way

Camera used: Canon 70D

Camera settings: 

Exposure time: 30 Seconds

Aperture: f/3.5

ISO: 2500

THE MAJESTIC VIEW

That feeling when you reached the radio station while watching the sea of clouds is so priceless. We reached the Radio station around 5:30 AM, there are four peaks that still awaits for us. The view is so stunning and magnificent indeed.

It’s really no surprise that Mt. Pulag is on every hiker’s bucket list. The difficulty of the hike, the exhausting journey all the way up to the first peak of Mount Pulag and the sleepless night; All of it suddenly disappear when you see the panoramic picturesque grassland scenery, the sea of clouds and the majestic view of the mountains that stretch as far as you can see.

If you’re wondering how far the summit of Mount Pulag from the Radar station. Take a look at the picture below.

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The first photo is a view of Mount Pulag summit from the Radar station, while the second photo is a view of Radar Station from the summit of Mount Pulag.

Sea of clouds at my back

Anyway, Mount Pulag is also one of the fantastical and romantic places to do such wedding proposal. My officemate planned to do his proposal to his girlfriend at Mount Pulag. I know that a lot of proposals happened on this marvelous place before.

I will not tell the whole story, just watch the video below.

Congratulations to my friend Brian and Honney

SEA OF CLOUDS

Mount Pulag is famous for its “Sea of Clouds”. It is an overcast layer of clouds that can be viewed from above, with a relatively uniform top which shows undulations of very different lengths resembling waves. Sea of clouds is one of the highlights of this third highest Majestic mountain in the Philippines. If you are lucky enough, you can see this phenomenon, but if not, better luck next time. Based on our tour guide, the best time to see it is between 5:30 to 6:30 AM.

Mount Pulag sunrise
(c) Allen Nopre

Seeing the Sunrise above a sea of clouds is truly an awesome sight to behold.

MOUNT PULAG SUMMIT

Going to the first peak of the mountain is difficult, how much more going to the summit of the third highest mountain here in the Philippines? Well, it was so physically draining. The summit is about 1 and a half hour away from the Radar station. Before you make it to the top, you have to surpass different challenges along the journey. Some of my colleagues stayed at the Radar Station. Aside from the distance, a steep mountain slope makes our legs difficult to move upward causing us to take some rest more often. My brother is a pro mountaineer and he told me that if you hike a mountain and you didn’t get to the summit, it is not counted.  So, I forced myself to reach the summit and I’m proud to say that I survived Mt Pulag!

We reached the summit at exactly 8:30 AM, it was an achievement unlocked! The breathtaking view from the top of Luzon gives me a reason to hike, explore the hidden wonders and travel more. It was a fulfillment and I can’t even imagine that I did it!

Mount Pulag summit

My travel buddies: FLTR- Allen Nopre, Me, Kevin Cachuela and Kevin Navarro

Here’s the sea of clouds from the Summit

Sea of clouds from the Summit

Mount Pulag Summit
Our group photo from the summit of the third highest mountain in the Philippines

[CLICK HERE TO VIEW ITINERARY]

 

You might also want to read:

7 beginner-friendly mountains in Rizal

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Comments

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Benjoe Vidal is a full-time software engineer, part-time travel blogger, and a Hobbyist Photographer.

15 Comments

  1. wow! I had no idea you can hike for that views in Philippines! What a incredible views especially that during the sunrise! It must be an amazing feeling be above the clouds! Your photos are amazing! I definitely have to book my trip as soon as possible! Just have to work on my hiking condition first 😀

  2. So amazing that you completed that 8 hour hike even though you’re not an experienced hiker! It truly sounds like an experience to remember – great tip that they only allow 500 hikers per day so it’s important to book early!

  3. Wow, i know from some of my friends who have been to Philippines for visiting stunning beaches, but learning about these mountain hike and these views, surely make me to add Philippines to my Travel list soon

    1. Yup Ania, Although it was difficult for me since it was my first mountain I climbed. Nevertheless, it was amazing indeed! 😃 Would like know your hiking experience too. Feel free to share it here! #happywandering

  4. I have never heard of the Ambangeg Trail but it looks worthwhile. The fact you stayed overnight meant you got an amazing photograph of the stars. Thanks for leaving the settings you used, I’ll try recreate a stars photo like that when I get under the stars with no light pollution.

  5. First, I must say the views from Mount Pulag are splendid – the sea of clouds is spectacular. I even love the Hanging Bridge. Second, this 8-hour hike for a novice must have been tough but you guys aced it. Well done!

    1. Thank you harsh! Yup At first, I thought I cannot get to the top because it was very exhausting and aside from the distance, a steep mountain slope makes our legs difficult to move upward causing us to take some rest more often.My brother is a pro mountaineer and he told me that if you hike a mountain and you didn’t get to the summit, it is not counted. So, I forced myself to reach the summit. However, it was really hard for a first timer like me hahahaa

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