Friday, April 29, 2011

BAKUN TRIO (Lobo-Kabunian-Tenglawan)

The Carrot Rock @ Mt Tenglawan (2008)
Bakun in the Benguet northwest offers one of the most breath-taking mountain scenes in the country. The town features three mountains each with its own beauty and spectacle. Mt Tenglawan, which can be accessed via Sinacbat features the Carrot Rock which is similar to the monolith of Pico de Loro in Cavite, only more dangerous to climb. Mt Tenglawan’s trail is a combination of the talahib trails in Batulao, the rainforest of Mt Makiling, the pine trails of Akiki and the mossy forest of Mt Napulauan. Mt Kabunian features the Thriller Trail and the imposing boulder formations along the trail. Mt Lobo, which is the highest of the three, offers a very good 360-degree view at the summit. When it’s foggy, Mt Lobo can only offer a Mt Cristobal or Mt Makiling type of trek doubled. Both Mt Kabunian and Mt Lobo can be accessed via Bakun Central (Poblacion).
The Thriller Trail of Mt Kabunian
Taken singly, each mountain may be equal in terms of challenges and risks. Mt Tenglawan has the vertiginous talahib trail and the slippery and steep pine trail. Mt Kabunian has the knee-shaking Thriller Trail. Mt Lobo has a long continuous 50-degree ascent. Taken all together in one journey, this could be one of your toughest climbs even if you hire a jeepney to transport you from one jump-off point to another. Only few people do a Bakun Trio Expedition due to lack of reliable information among other constraints. Even though I had already done a Bakun Duo in 2008 I still had to do intensive research before I was able to coordinate with the local officials. PLANNING (research + coordination) is very essential in doing a Bakun Trio.
Time and the tourism officers are the main constraints in doing a Bakun Trio. There is only one daily trip to Sinacbat from La Trinidad and vice versa. Both trips are at 0600hrs or 0630hrs. The same is true with the La Trinidad—Bakun Central route. If you miss these trips, you may have to waste one more day or you could waste more money hiring private transportation to Halsema Highway or Baguio. Please be considerate enough not to use public transportation if your climb size is above 5pax. The buses could barely accommodate the locals and their goods. There isn't enough room for your big backpacks. Hiring a jeepney is another thing to consider. Drivers charge P10k-P17k for a 3-day service. The tourism officials in Bakun are not new to commercial tourism. Unlike the rest of Benguet, the fees are high in this town. Coordinate with the barangay officials beforehand and do it in SMS. Don’t delete them. They often change the terms when you get there and you’re helpless. They won’t let you leave Bakun if you don’t pay the ‘appropriate’ fees. But in general, the people in Bakun are as nice as those in other parts of Benguet.
Mt Lobo summit


Day 1 (Mt Lobo-Kabunian)
April 21 (Thursday)

ETD for Baguio @ Victory Liner bus terminal (Pasay)

The lucky hour of misfortune. Arrival @ Baguio. The bus @KM5 going to Sinacbat beside Petron gas station (across from Jollibee) left at 0600hrs. The bus bound for Bakun Central left at 0700hrs. We were lucky to catch this bus at Shilan in Acop, which is already around 10km away from Baguio, thanks to the taxi driver who immediately agreed to take us there. There is only one bus that plies each route. My bad! I was the last to arrive in Baguio. Dennis and Andy arrived at 0245hrs and Christian at 0300hrs. There were no ‘pasaways’ in the group—just me. But it pays to have the number of the bus driver or the conductor. I was constantly talking with the bus driver on the phone telling him to wait for us while we travelled by cab. Luckily they were changing tires that time so we were not much of a disruption to their journey. We got there just in time but we had to do the ‘topload’ since the bus was already full. The bus was really tall so we were always on the lookout for electric cables and water hoses that threaten to clothesline the passengers on the roof. In the middle of the trip Christian and I had to squeeze ourselves inside the bus.
Brunch @ KM62 stopover. Check out their Al’s Rice. For P95 you have a big fried chicken, chop seuy with crispy pata strips and a big serving of rice topped with a sunny-side-up egg. Avoid their pancit canton in summer. It’s really good but we found two flies that camouflage as black pepper in it. FYI Benguet is infested with flies in summer! We had one crispy pata to-go for P270 (good for 5pax)
Arrival @ Bakun Central. Courtesy call and registration at the Tourist Assistance Center. Please indicate every amount you pay in the logbook to avoid further ‘complications’. Change costume. We got a guide for Mt Lobo for P400. You can buy your supplies in Bakun Central. They’ve got fresh bangus, C2, pork, cold cuts, Lucky Me pancit canton in all flavors and just about anything you would need in your climb…anything except booze! There’s a town-wide liquor ban in Bakun. They sell their 4x4 gin bulag (which they refer to as San Miguel) clandestinely for P200.
Start Trek (up Mt Lobo)
ETA Mt Lobo summit. Picture2x
Start Descent
Back at Bakun Poblacion/Central. Dinner
Start night trek to Mt Kabunian half-way waiting shed.
Arrival @ waiting shed. There’s a little water source beside the waiting shed. We paid our guide P600. Our guide left us here. Just ask your guide for directions for your summit assault the following day.
Lights out

Day 2 (Mt Kabunian Summit Assault and Waterless Night 2)
April 22 (Good Friday)

Wake-up call; Breakfast. Break camp
Start summit assault. Many locals use the trail to access Bakun Central from Kayapa and vice versa. It may not be safe to hide your backpacks along the trail or around the waiting shed. In our case we brought our packs up to a spot which we could see throughout the remainder of the trail to the summit. If you want you can carry your packs all the way to the summit!
Arrival @ a cottage with a makeshift bed. There is a strong water source a little below the cottage. The trail bifurcates at the cottage. The continuation of the trail leads to Kayapa. The trail veering to the right leads to the summit.
Arrival @ Mt Kabunian summit. The summit is marked by a fallen pine tree.
Start Descent. Get backpacks on the way down.
Back at the waiting shed camp site. We waited for the sun to be hidden by the clouds
Resume trek
Arrival @ Kubo III. Late lunch
Resume descent to Bakun Dam (locals refer to it as ‘planta’). This time you’ll be trekking on huge tubes which locals call ‘tunnel’. At an abandoned control station, stop following the tube. Take the cemented steps to the right.
Arrival @ Bakun dam. Get trail water and camp water here. Start steep ascent to New Zealand campsite
Arrival @ New Zealand campsite. You may wish to camp here or a little further on at Junior Kubo.
We had our waterless dinner and socials. There were no people in the houses and the stream is dry during summer. The socials was still fun though with “I’ve been waiting for you” on the background. Stargazing until everybody stopped talking and dozed off.

Day 3 (Mt Tenglawan)
April 23 (Black Saturday)

Wake-up call; No Breakfast. Break camp
Start steep ascent. Follow the clearest uphill trail beyond Junior Kubo.
Water source. This may be a bit difficult to access at night. My companions took some rest here.
Arrival @ waiting shed along the road. Follow the road northwards (to your left when facing the waiting shed). Take 5
Bahay ni Ate Merlyn. Party-party brunch.
Resume trek to Lupunan.
Arrival at a waiting shed. This is an intersection. My companions took a rest while I searched the area. The road to the left leads to Sitio Lupunan. Following the road downhill on your right for 30 minutes will lead you to Sincabat. We made a left and headed for Sitio Lupunan. 
Arrival @ Sitio Lupunan. The last house with a cubical water tank is owned by a kind man. We left our backpacks at his house and brought along our assault packs. There is a water source halfway to the summit.
Start trek to Mt Tenglawan. Only the first phase of the trail could get confusing but listen carefully to the tips and directions of the locals and you’ll get to Mt Tenglawan even without a guide. A reasonable guide fee for us would be P500. For slowpokes, add a little more to pay the guide’s boredom and impatience. The guy who volunteered to guide us quoted a price higher than is due his effort (P700). We declined. I decided to lead the trek since I had walked that trail two years before. First fork take the right; second fork take the left (smooth downhill roll)…the trail is covered with white stepping stones; ignore the minor right turns…follow the white stepping stones until you reach another right turnoff. This leads up. Take this right turnoff. After ten minutes, you’ll be trekking on the dangerous talahib trail. This really narrow trail is on a steep slope of Mt Tenglawan. One miss and you’ll roll down. Be careful with the holes on the narrow trail. After about thirty minutes, you’ll be in the ‘Makiling trail’. Then you’ll come across a huge boulder with a nipa lean-to. On the other side of the rock is the entrance to a small cave/tunnel. Follow the trail beyond the rock. Ignore the trail that veers to the left off the main trail. Then  you'll reach the water source—a small brook of really clear cool water.
Water source (brook). After the water source, you’ll be on the Akiki pine trail. Be careful with the pine needles that cover the ground. They’re more slippery than mud. The trail is not noticeable on the ground but the cuts on the trunks of pine trees will be your guide on this steep trail. After the Akiki pine trail, is the Napulauan mossy forest. After 15 minutes, you’ll exit the mossy forest and be welcomed by a very awe-inspiring sight of the campsite and the carrot rock. 
Arrival @ Mt Tenglawan camp site and summit. Picture2x. You may want to climb the carrot rock but be extra-careful. This rock poses more vertigo and danger than Pico de Loro’s monolith.
Start descent. You wouldn't want to trek in the dark.
Back at Sitio Lupunan. Dinner
Start descent to Sinacbat. Notify the barangay officials of your arrival so they can prepare your lodgings. You could spend the night at the place of one of the kagawads or at the multi-purpose hall or at an empty house owned by an official’s relative.
Arrival @ Sinacbat. Wash up. Socials
Lights out

Day 4 (Homeward bound)
April 24 (Easter Sunday)

Wake-up call; Breakfast.
Departure for La Trinidad. This is the only trip to La Trinidad
Snack @ KM62 stopover
Arrival @ KM5 La Trinidad (Benguet Trading Post). Take the cab to SM Baguio
Lunch and post climb party party at Syblings Nook (SM Baguio rear terrace). No lines here. Good food for good price and really cold beer!
We went our separate ways


Amount in PhP/pax
Victory Liner Bus Ticket P455 x 2 (to and from)
Taxi fare to Shilan, Acop (P160/4pax)
Bus fare (Acop to Bakun Central)
Registration @ Bakun Central for Mt Kabunian and Mt Lobo
Guide fees (P400 for Lobo + P600 for Kabunian) /4pax
Registration @ Sinacbat for Mt Tenglawan
Bus fare (Sinacbat to KM5)
Safe Amount

Contact numbers
KM5—Bakun Central bus driver
0928 448 3509
KM5—Sinacbat bus driver
0907 976 9890 / 0949 367 0779
Bakun Centrak Brgy Captain
0909 525 9454
Sinacbat Brgy Captain
0910 449 3657

one final look with my buddies Andy Pandaan, Christian Kalaw and Dennis Hisanan (2011)

Ideal climb size: 5pax max.
Training climbs: two consecutive weekends of any combination of two of these treks: MakTrav; ArayaTrav; Tarak Ridge; Mt Pulag Akiki-Ambangeg.


  1. nice IT sir adonis very complete detailed information it will be much easier now for those who wants to try the bakun trio thanks.

  2. wow nandito na pala.. hehehe san kaya ang 3rd invitational climb? hehe

  3. hi sir, this is really informative, ask pa sana ako ng mga tips kasi plan namin to climb Pulag this May, pede ba kami dumiretso ng Bakun trio after ng Pulag? thanks

  4. have you done the trail that goes to bakun central from kayapa? how many kilometers do you think is it? any reference materials?

    as well as the ambaguio trail to pulag?


    jonel mendoza
    0917 8030664

  5. 'Nope' to both your inquiries sir Jonel. Is this the Kayapa in Ilocos Sur? not in the Nueva Vizcaya side? I've seen the trail that leads to that place. The trail passes through Mt Kabunian...locals of Kayapa are often seen using this trail,...thanks for visiting

  6. sir Adonis, ipprint ko na itong page na ito, i keep coming back for info. Gaano ka lightpack kayu sir? send you message sa FB

  7. Any backpack will do. Pack light but don't compromise the necessities. But more than packing light, time management is of utmost importance when doing a Bakun Trio without a chartered vehicle.

  8. High were planning to climb in Bakon Trio this September,,any additional advice on us and the fare its the same pa din po ba?? Saka sa bus makakasakay po ba kame kung mga 10packs po kame with all carry almost 40-50 liters bag thank you in advance...

  9. Hi, I am writing a travel article on CAR for Kristn, an online website. I was hoping to use some of your photos of the Bakun Trio for the article. Please let me know if it's okay and how to credit you! Thanks very much!

    Jenette Vizcocho

    I have some stuff up online, mostly for Kristn:

    Yoga Mountain Climb


    Mati, Davao Oriental

    1. Oh hi! Sorry for this really late reply. I seldom check on my old posts. But in case this is still relevant...yeah feel free to use any of the images above. You may credit me by linking my blog.

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