Friday, May 6, 2011

MT PULAG (Ambangeg-Ambangeg) - SAGADA

Mt Pulag's Sea of Clouds


Overview:
Mt PULAG (2922masl; ~9600fasl) in Kabayan, Benguet is the highest mountain in Luzon and the third in the Philippines. The word pulog in that part of the Cordilleras means bald. And so is the summit of Mt Pulag!
The highlights of the climb are the mossy forests in the Ambangeg and Akiki trails, the dwarf bamboos at the summit and the majestic sea of clouds that blanket the surroundings of Mt Pulag from sunup ‘till noon.
Four trails lead to the summit—Tawangan (in Ballay), Ambangeg (in Bokod), Akiki (in Duacan) and Ambaguio in Nueva Vizcaya. Of the four, Akiki is the most feared earning the epithet ‘the killer trail’. Tawangan trail is thick in vegetation and infested with limatik (leeches). The Ambaguio trail which is probably just as long as the Tawangan trail will remind you of the Hobbiton in The Lord of the Rings! The Ambangeg trail, on the other hand, is the easiest and attracts more visitors than the others!
The main threats in Mt Pulag are the near-freezing temperatures from December to February. Some first-timers also suffer from dizziness due to a drastic change in altitude.
IT IS COMPULSORY THAT ALL VISITORS GO THROUGH ORIENTATION AND BRIEFING BY THE PARK SUPERINTENDENT Emerita Tamiray at the DENR Visitors’ Center in Bokod.
The entrance to Sumaging Cave
 SAGADA in Mt Province is a quiet remote village in the Cordilleras. For decades this cool misty place has been drawing backpackers to enjoy tranquil treks, moments of solitude and, at times, cheap dope. Its isolation keeps it safe from weekend turistas that pervade the beaches of the country. It is at least 12 hours away from Manila (or 6 hours from Baguio)
Most travellers go to Sagada to experience a splendid spelunking trip. Other attractions are the hanging coffins, Echo Valley and Bomod-ok Waterfalls. Others, who just want to immerse themselves in the local culture, try their food and the weaving industry. But above all these, it is the peace and serenity of the place that keeps the author coming back. Sadly, though, roads that lead to Sagada from the west in Cervantes and from the east in Banaue are starting to get paved. Experience this place before it fills up with noisy turistas.

ITINERARY
This itinerary is designed for travellers coming from the south or somewhere outside Manila.
Day 0
2000hrs
ETA @ NAIA Terminal 3. Take the airport bus to Pasay Rotonda. This airport bus will terminate behind McDonald’s right beside MRT Taft Station. There are buses bound for Baguio there. Taking airport cabs might cost P200 per cab/4pax to Pasay Rotonda.
2100hrs
ETA @ Pasay Rotonda Bus Terminal
2200hrs
ETD for Baguio City
Day 1
0430hrs
ETA Baguio City
Breakfast: There are 7-Eleven convenience stores along Session Rd. and one right across from Victory Liner Terminal. I always have my Tapsilog @ 456 Restaurant (open 24-hrs) also along Session Rd. Good Taste Restaurant at Dangwa Terminal offers hearty meals from P60-P100 24/7 but they have really slow service.
If you think it’s a little too early, there are some stopovers on the way to Mt Pulag Visitors’ Center. One meal costs P60-P80.
You may also do some grocery shopping. Although there are stores at the Mt Pulag Visitors’ Center.
Meet the driver of the chartered monster jeep. Sometimes Ma’am Emerita Tamiray hitches a ride.
0530hrs
ETD for Visitors’ Center (Ambangeg). (You may tell the driver to take you to the best stopover for breakfast. The stopovers offer the driver free meals when they bring in customers)
0730hrs
ETA @ Visitors’ Center
Register
0800hrs
Orientation
0930hrs
ETD for Mt Pulag Park Ranger Station. This is where the chartered monster jeepney stops. This is also the pick-up point on the way to Sagada or back to Baguio City.
Fill up trail water bottles.
1000hrs
Start trek
1045hrs
Camp 1
1200hrs
Camp 2
Lunch. Lunch would be quicker if you have packed meals.
Fill up water bottles. This is the last water source.
You may wish to camp here.
1400hrs
Resume trek
1530hrs
ETA Summit
Pictures
1600hrs
Start descent to Saddle Camp site
1630hrs
ETA Saddle Camp site
Pitch Tents
1700hrs
Head back to the summit or to Mini-Pulag for sunset pictures. Don’t forget to bring with you your headlamps!
1800hrs
Prepare Dinner
Dinner
Socials (minimize noise)
2200hrs
Lights out
Day 2
0400hrs
Quick breakfast (noodles; coffee)
0430hrs
Head for the summit
0445hrs
ETA @ Summit
Wait for the sunrise
Take pictures
0630hrs
Start descent to camp site
0700hrs
Prepare breakfast.
Breakfast
0800hrs
Break camp
0830hrs
Start descent. Power trek. Run if possible. NO slowpokes.
0915hrs
ETA @ Camp 2
1000hrs
ETA @ Camp 1
1015hrs
ETA @ Park Ranger Station. Quick wash-up or wet wipes.
1030hrs
Board the monster jeepney.
1200hrs
ETA @ Visitors’ Center
Buy souvenir shirts
Print certificate. (P35)
Log out
Some trekkers have their lunch and wash-up here.
1300hrs
ETD for Sagada. This will take the bumpy dusty road that passes by Kabayan Central. Get your body covered. If you chance upon an open restaurant on the way, have your dinner there. You might not see any more restaurants after 7pm. The trip will take 7 to 8 hours. Always move quickly. Unless you want to arrive in Sagada at midnight. The later it gets; the more impatient and reckless the drivers get. They might even charge you an extra fee for overtime.
2100hrs
ETA @ Sagada. Check in @ any guest house. Coordinate beforehand as the guesthouses may be full. St Joseph’s Resthouse offers more options for your accommodation. They have rooms (P500/P600 double occupancy) and cottages (P1700) with hot water.
2200hrs
Socials. Sagada is a peaceful quiet place. Travellers go there for peace and relaxation. Guesthouse owners usually don’t tolerate noise after 10 pm.
Day 3
0600hrs
Wake-up call. Breakfast. Verify with the receptionist if you can check out after 12nn without any extra charge. If there is an additional fee, you may check out before spelunking and leave your stuff at the municipal hall or you can hasten your movement in the cave!
0700hrs
Arrange a guide for Sumaging Cave
0730hrs
Start trek to Sumaging Cave.
0800hrs
ETA @ Sumaging Cave entrance. The ground could get slippery. The cool water inside the cave could get waist-deep. Bring along dry bags for your gadgets. You may also opt for a four hour cave-connection tour.
1000hrs
Exit Sumaging Cave. Head back to the guesthouse or the municipal hall. You may not have enough time for Echo Valley if you want to catch the last trip to Baguio. Echo Valley is not really that charming. It’s just a valley and your echo when you shout. I shouted before but I never really heard my echo. Much of what you read in travel books is an exaggeration. If you’re a mountaineer and have seen countless waterfalls, you will wonder why the diminutive Bokong Waterfalls is worthy of the title ‘waterfall’. The big Bomod-ok Falls also can’t be more beautiful than the many waterfalls in Laguna or elsewhere in the country. If you’re looking for hanging coffins there are already some at the entrance of Sumaging Cave or on the way there from the poblacion. Basically there’s nothing very special in Sagada except for the caves. My friend who got disappointed during our trip in 2004 even dubbed Sagada as “Malayong Baguio” (Remote Baguio). In my case, I am charmed by the beauty of the community itself and the people. After my experience in Sumaging Cave, I went back to Sagada in two more separate years just to stay at St Joseph’s Guesthouse and to walk around the vicinity of the municipal hall. That’s the secret to enjoying Sagada! Forget about the caves, the falls and the valleys. The poblacion itself is already a beauty in its own right.
1130hrs
Lunch
1200hrs (or whatever time the last trip is)
Board the bus bound for Baguio
1700hrs
ETA @ Baguio City
1730hrs
ETD for Manila
2400hrs
ETA @ Manila

Please contact the Park Superintendent beforehand. The park could be fully-loaded and you could also verify up-to-date rates of fees with her!
PaSu Emerita Tamiray 0919 631 5402

   EXPENSES 

Description
Amount/pax
Manila-Baguio v.v. (P450 x 2)
P900
Monster Jeep (18pax)   P15000 / 18pax (0920 553 8758). This price doesn’t include transport service from Sagada to Baguio. From Sagada you can just take the bus to Baguio but you have to know the last trip. It’s normally around noon. In the afternoon there may be trips to Bontoc. You can just get off at the junction and just wait for buses from Bontoc bound for Baguio. If you want to include Sagada-Baguio service in your charter, you may negotiate with the operator (Eddie) for the additional pay. This second option is ideal for a climb size of over 15pax. This gives you more time to spend in Sagada and you don’t displace the local passengers.
P834
Green fee + Entrance + Camping fee
P200
Guide fee  P500 / 1-5pax…+P100/ excess head
P100
Porter fee P300/day (15kg-20kg max)
*
Sumaging Cave guide fee (P500-P800) / 5pax
~P120
Sagada Resthouse
~P200
Sagada-Baguio (Bus)
P240
Total
P2594
Safe budget Manila-Pulag-Sagada-Manila
P3500
  

























       CONTACT NUMBERS

Monster Jeep Operator (Eddie)
0920 553 8758
Mt Pulag Park Superintendent (Emerita Tamiray)
0919 631 5402
St Joseph’s Resthouse
0918 559 5934
Sagada Guesthouse
0929 680 7849
Alfredo’s Cabin (Sagada)
0918 588 3535

1 comment:

  1. Hi!
    I would like to ask, is this itinerary still doable this year?
    Any other things we have to consider?
    Thanks much.

    ReplyDelete

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