Sunday, April 3, 2011


taken in Apr 2008, this is probably the first photograph of the summit of Mt Tabayoc
made available on the internet

Mt TABAYOC (9320+ fasl), the second highest mountain in Luzon goes by two other names Tabayac and Tabeyoc. But local mountaineers have come to call it Tabayoc. And we refer to the lake fronting it as Tabeo. But my guide Santiago still calls it (the lake) Tabayo. This is the thickest and lushest rainforest I have ever delved into. The moist moss-covered trunks of the bonsai trees that cover the mountain will remind you of Avatar. The clean trail is clearer now compared to what it was in 2006 when I first attempted to penetrate the mountain.

Mt Tabayoc has a convenient access point at Ballay, Kabayan, Benguet. It may also be accessed via Tinoc, Ifugao. But you’ll still have to go through Ballay. It is best to climb the mountain early in the morning as the rain starts to pour at noon! Only few get to see the breath-taking sea of clouds at the top. According to my guide, most of his guests either reach the summit at night or in the misty midday.
taken on Apr 27, 2011 (now with the view deck)
Mt Tabayoc is still part of Mt Pulag National Park under the supervision of Emerita Tamiray, the park superintendent. There is a little settlement at the jump-off point around the lake. The houses have increased in number and are now more colorful! This increase in population threatens the pristine condition of Mt Tabayoc in that the farmers have started to encroach upon the bonsai hill. I saw a vegetable garden slopped along the side of the hill resembling the terraces of Batad. I’m not focusing on the beauty of the terraces but on the impending doom of the once untouched rainforest of Mt Tabayoc. There is an ongoing case between Mt Pulag National Park management and the settlers near the lake. The park authorities have been pushing for the eviction of those settlers in the national park who are also fighting for their rights over the land they consider their ancestral domain. The conflict has not yet been resolved up to research time.
In the vicinity of Mt Tabayoc are Jr Pulag and the four lakes (Tabeo, Incolos, Letep-ngapos and Ambulalacao). They are not necessarily pronounced the way they are spelled. The three lakes and Jr Pulag are chained together by one trail. They are almost always shrouded by the mist. I hope to explore them on a clear day someday.

Lake Letep-ngapos
When you are ever in Ballay, don’t rush! Take some time to see the beauty of the place. Most visitors go there just to scale the second highest mountain in Luzon. Try exploring the three other lakes and you’ll be mystified! And although my guide Santiago may not be the most virtuous person to deal with, spending a day or two at his home with his wonderful family always makes my journey in Ballay perfect.
there's nothing more memorable than communing with the locals
Day 1 (Saturday)
ETD for Baguio City (Victory Liner Pasay/Cubao/Caloocan)
ETA Baguio City
Take a cab to ‘Slaughter House’ terminal (~10mins from Session Rd)
Take the lone trip to Ballay (the sign reads Kabayan) (A-Liner bus)
The bus loads and unloads passengers at Ambangeg
The bus loads and unloads passengers at Kabayan Central
ETA Ballay, Kabayan
Meet the guide
Log in at the CAFGU station
Final buys (limited choices of liquor)
Start trek to Lake Tabeo
ETA Lake Tabeo camp site
Pitch tents reasonably away from the lake. If it rains, the lake could swallow your tents!
Prepare dinner (you may ask for water at one of the houses there, there are also a couple of stores that sell stuff like toothpaste, soap, cooking oil etc. but not liquor)
Dinner; Socials
Lights out
The night is freezing!
Day 2 (Sunday)
Quick breakfast (noodles; coffee)
Head for the summit. Carry only an assault pack with water and some snacks.
ETA Summit
Take pictures
Start descent to camp site.
Break camp. Leave stuff at one of the houses.
Start trek to the three lakes and Jr Pulag. Carry only assault pack, water and snacks. You may also carry a raincoat (in case it rains) or a jacket (you might not be able to stand the cold in the three lakes). Minimize noise when exploring the three lakes!
ETA entry point to Jr Pulag (marked by a spring)
ETA Jr Pulag
Take pictures
ETA Lake Incolos
Take pictures
ETA Lake Letep-ngapos
Take pictures
ETA Ambulalacao
Take pictures
ETA Tabeo camp site
Start trek to the guide’s place
ETA guide’s place
Wash up. Charge your phones and cameras.
Relax and unwind
Prepare dinner
Dinner, Socials
Lights out
Day 3 (Monday)
Wake up call
Start trek to the bus station (there’s only one bust trip to Baguio City and it leaves at 0700hrs SHARP)
The bus leaves for Baguio City
You may have your lunch at one of the stopovers or you may wait until you get to Baguio at around 1300hrs
ETA Baguio City
Shop for some pasalubong
ETD for Manila
ETA Manila
Getting there and away (other options)
1.       From Baguio City, you can take any bus (going to Bontoc or Sagada) that goes through Halsema Highway. Get off at KM 55. Climb up Mt Timbak (2-4hrs). Trek down (traverse) to Kabayan Barrio. The A-Liner bus (going to Ballay) passes by Kabayan Barrio at around 2pm.
2.       You may also take the same buses that ply the Baguio – Bontoc route (via Halsema) and get off at Abatan, Buguias, Benguet (2.5hrs). Then take the jeepney from Abatan to Ballay (2-3hrs) (Tue/Thurs/Fri/Sat 12nn). The same jeepney goes to Abatan from Ballay on the same days at 7am.
3.       If you’re coming from Banaue, take the jeepney going to Tinoc and then trek to Ballay (~5hrs)

Manila-Baguio v.v. (P455 x 2)
Baguio – Ballay (P141 x 2)
Taxi fare to Slaughter House terminal
Camping fee
Guide fee (Tabayoc) P600 / 1-3pax…P1000 / 4-7pax
Guide fee (4 lakes) P500 / 1-7pax
Safe budget Manila-Tabayoc-Manila

Contact numbers
Park Ranger (Arlan). He can also assign guides to you
0912 889 8232
Guide (Santiago)
0910 752 2655

track logs according to my Garmin Map60CSx
Altitude profile of my trek from Lake Tabeo campsite to Mt Tabayoc Summit



  2. Hi! Question lng sir,,how much po kaya ang pamasahe from kabayan barrio to ballay ? and how long will be the travel time ? pagkababa ba ng timbak puede ng itanong sa mga locals yung daan papunta kabayan barrio ? dapat nasa kabayan barrio na ng mga 1:30pm para maabangan yung bus papunta ballay ng 2pm ?
    Maraming salamat po..


  3. @ sir Max: I think nasa 30 pesos ang pamasahe from kabayan barrio to ballay and it will take roughly an hour. I'm not sure what you mean by 'pagkababa ng Timbak'. If you mean pagkababa ng KM55 along Halsema Highway to climb Mt Timbak, yep you should always ask the locals for directions to Kabayan Barrio. But if you mean pagkababa ng Timbak after traversing it, you don't need to ask...ang bababaan mo ay Kabayan Barrio na mismo. 1:30 would be the safest mas maganda kung weekday, kasi pag weekend punong puno ang last trip tas sobrang dami ang naghihintay sa kabayan barrio papuntang ballay.

  4. Maraming salamat sa reply sir,,pasensya na medyo magulo ang pagkaka tanong ko ,,ibig sabihin ko pala ay pagkababa ng summit ng mt timbak at balik na sa mongoto elem school..pano ang papunta dun sa kabayan bario? diretsuhin ko lang ba yung main road ? Maganda nga pala ang suggestion nyo na weekday,para wala masyado tao..

    More power sa blog nyo sir,,keep it up..


  5. Lagi ako solo kaya importante sa akin info from your blog. Thank you for that.:) Tanong ko lang kung may binibigay ba sila na certificate gaya ng sa Mt. Pulag? Thanks uli!


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