Trekking Mt. Pulag is a definitely must-try to all outdoor and adventure-lovers out there. It is one of the most sought out trail in the country with it being the 3rd highest peak in the Philippines.
People who love hiking, trekking and mountaineering are gushing over the amazing trail and views one can experience at the summit. As a ‘novice’ myself, I did not fully see the excitement everyone else was getting. I’ve never even heard of Mt. Pulag before I started my so-called ‘mountain adventures’.
But all of this changed when I saw the real beauty of this amazing national park in Benguet offers. And I’m sure that you will also change your mind when you finally decide to visit.
For the past couple of months before our trek to one of the Philippines’ National Parks, we have tried several trekking adventures in Cebu: including Osmeña Peak, Mt. Manuggal and Mt. Mauyog.
Though some of the trail was pretty average (especially for beginners like me), trekking Mt. Pulag was a mixture of both easy and difficult. It was entirely a unique experience that was worth every breathless moment, every slip and every sore muscle we got.
Table of Contents
- How to Reach Mount Pulag?
- Tips for Trekking Mount Pulag
- 1. Get A Day’s Rest or At Least a Good Night Sleep Before the Climb
- 2. Don’t Drink Energy Drink (if you did not have a good night sleep)
- 3. Never Be Too Proud to Ask For Help/ Assistance
- 4. Dress Warmly and Comfortably
- 5. Bring Comfortable Sleeping Gear
- 6. Avoid Rowdy People
- 7. Bring Your Extra Batteries with You
- 8. Enjoy the Hike. It’s Not a Race
- 9. Expect the Unexpected
How to Reach Mount Pulag?
Our trip was an unforgettable one. We have endured the 5-7 hours bus ride from Manila to Baguio and spent the rest of the day exploring the city upon arrival.
Part of our exploration was looking for the last-minute things that we need to have for a safe and secure camping experience including making sure that our stocks were replenished.
We joined the Pagnatsaka Group as our guide in trekking Mt. Pulag. It was a small group yet we had the most amazing guides newbies like us could ask for. There were 2 trails – at the time of our trip – that were available for trekkers.
One is the Akiki Trail and the 2nd one is the Ambangeg/Babadac Trail. The Akiki Trail is favoured by more experienced mountaineers while the Ambangeg/Babadac Trail is for beginners or those who want a more relaxing trek to the summit.
You also have the option to trek the entire Ambangeg Trail. As for us, we only opted to start the trek from the Ranger Station.
We left our accommodation the following day at around 3-4 AM for the pick-up point somewhere in the city. From there, we rode a van going up to the DENR Office.
All participants are expected to join the short orientation (including a short video clip) at the DENR Office to get an insight of what we will expect on our way up and what is expected from us.
From the DENR Office, we were dropped at the Ranger’s Station and waited for our group to be called. Groups can start the hike to the first camp site one at a time so you have to wait with the rest of the hikers.
It was an hour going to the Camp Ground 1 and another 3-4 hours to the Camp Ground 2. The trail was great – challenging yet very beautiful. Each step a reminder to preserve its beauty for the next generation.
Tips for Trekking Mount Pulag
From the moment we took our first step going up until our ride back to the city, I had listed down 9 Things I Wish I Knew Before Trekking Mt. Pulag:
1. Get A Day’s Rest or At Least a Good Night Sleep Before the Climb
Like all other adventures, we all need to be well-rested before we try something out of our ordinary routine. As I’ve mentioned, we only arrived in Baguio the day before and I personally did not get enough rest.
This was a big mistake I guess, for I was not physically prepared to trek. The air as you go up gets thinner than the usual, so I was breathless and needed to take a few stops along the way.
It was good thing that my companions were cool about it, though. Good thing I was with family. LOL. It is always important to be healthy and be safe when going on mountain trips!
2. Don’t Drink Energy Drink (if you did not have a good night sleep)
In relation to #1, it is also important not drink an entire bottle/ can of energy drink before you climb up.
Uggghhhh!! I can just remember this big mistake I did. I drank the entire bottle of energy drink hoping it will make up for the lack of sleep, but boy was I super wrong.
Just a few meters from the Ranger’s Station, I was gasping for air and it was not a great feeling. It was an unexpected body reaction that completely caught me off guard.
Perhaps it was the sudden burst of caffeine in my system or just a different reason entirely, but it was definitely something I did not enjoy!
3. Never Be Too Proud to Ask For Help/ Assistance
This is something that we need to learn during our travels. It’s never easy to admit that you can’t do it.
But, it pays to be honest to yourself to take off that extra weight (literally on this matter). So there I was, gasping for air but wanting to prove to the rest that I can trek all the way up while lugging my backpack along the way.
But no. I could not do it. I needed help.
Good thing, there were locals you can hire to bring your luggage and other extra gear all the way to the top. We hired one and, boy, was he capable to bring not only 2 but 3 of our bags. I think years of climbing the mountain and bringing stuff along the way pays off.
As for me, I was relieved of carrying that backpack and finally being able to hike all the way up without the extra weight.
4. Dress Warmly and Comfortably
Born and raised in a tropical country, we Filipinos are not used to the cold.
A climb to this national park will definitely give you a chance to test how you can adjust to the difference in the weather than what we are used to. The temperature in the afternoon until sunset is still bearable.
But, wait until it gets dark up until dawn. Jackets are never enough. Even layers of it – and its uncomfortable wearing too many layers!
If you must, bring base layers with you. We joined the 4AM hike to the summit to watch the sunrise among the infamous Sea of Clouds, and it was chilly. And you will need all the feelings on both of your feet to be able to take the hike all the way up to the summit.
The temperature dropped to 1-15 degrees when we were there so it was a bit struggle especially at night, which will take me to my 5th thing I wish I knew.
5. Bring Comfortable Sleeping Gear
Good night sleep… I’ve been mentioning this before and let me tell you why, I never really had that when we were there. Aside from my 6th thing I wish I knew before trekking Mt. Pulag, which I will get to in a minute, we only bought sleeping bags with us.
Sleeping bags are great and all, but if you really wish to have a good night sleep, bring those extra foam with you. We previously purchased this great sleeping mats before (which was lightweight and all) but we did not bring it with us when we went hiking here.
A terrible decision to be honest. We have struggled to get a good night sleep all night.
6. Avoid Rowdy People
Isn’t it annoying to be with a bunch of people who are loud and rowdy at the wrong time and at the wrong place? Well, we were very unfortunate to have pitched our tent beside this group of people.
They were drinking and telling stories the entire night! A very inconsiderate thing to do since the rest of the campers were resting and it was specifically mentioned during the orientation to keep quiet and respect other campers. *sigh* –End of rant -.
If you are about to look for the perfect camp site, avoid groups of people that gives you the impression of being there just to drink and be rowdy in general. Trust your instincts!
7. Bring Your Extra Batteries with You
The summit is absolutely breathtaking. It’s so picturesque that going there without taking a photo or two is a mortal sin. We did get a series of photos, but we weren’t able to get as much as our heart would love to.
And why is that, you might ask?
Well, we did not bring our extra batteries with us but instead left it with one of our companions, believing that we will be together the entire time.
So, yeah. Lost some great shots and just satisfied our eyes with the amazing views.
8. Enjoy the Hike. It’s Not a Race
You’re probably thinking, ‘Duh?’. But the funny thing was, I was in a hurry!
But it shouldn’t be that way. The hike to the top is definitely not a race.
So what if you are behind the rest? The destination is indeed great but the way up is definitely something to enjoy. Because of my ‘condition’ while trekking Mt. Pulag, I was not in the position to rush and be at the head of the line.
It was great though. I wasn’t pressured and took some rest once in a while. Trekking is never a race but something to be experienced.
9. Expect the Unexpected
The highlight of an incredible hike like this is witnessing the sea of clouds. Unfortunately, not everyone can experience it.
The previous group who stayed the night before did not get the chance to see it though, which was a bummer. According to our guide, the weather at the base is very different from the weather at the summit.
So it is by luck or chance if you get to experience it the first time. We were pretty anxious when we heard this.
I mean, the purpose of our trip was to see the mountain at its finest! We were very fortunate, however, to have seen the sea of clouds with our very own eyes and experience its captivating beauty! Yey!
Like most, returning home and climbing down the mountain took less time than the way up. The feeling was satisfying and amazing at the same time. We had a few side trip going home.
Part of our tour included a visit to the Sulphur Spring, Hanging Bridge and the Ambuklao Dam.
Have you tried trekking Mt. Pulag? Or another mountain, perhaps? How did you do? Any realizations or any experience that made you wish you knew before going?
Tell us about it on the comment section below!
Here’s a group photo of our companions during the tour and a video of our super amazing adventure!
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What a beautiful view from the top! I could not imagine drinking all that energy drink before a hike haha!
I couldn’t agree more. Super bad decision. hahah!
This was such an interesting read! It seems like a very adventurous and fun thing to do. I know what you mean with what you said about the previous group having bad weather. It wouldn’t be very good to do the trek in the bad weather and then not even be able to view it at the end of it all! Thank you for sharing your experience.
Thank you Jen. Not at all my usual adventure style, but it was fun and I loved it. 🙂 We were very lucky indeed to have seen the Sea of Clouds at the summit! 🙂
Beautiful photos! Great tips for this hike, too. I’ve definitely learned in the past that drinking an energy drink for any reason is never a good idea! Ha! Glad you still had fun even with the lack of sleep!
Thank you Sarah! I truly believed in that now. The view really made up for it 🙂
These are great tips for any hike! It’s funny that you mentioned the energy drinks. I saw a documentary recently where they uncovered the truth about those beverages. They discovered that the energy you feel from drinking them is a mix between a sugar rush (just like you’d get from eating chocolate) and a placebo effect. Energydrinks are also bad for your heart.
Great post!! Thanks for sharing!
Wow! Thank you for the inputs, Kristine 🙂 I have avoided energy drinks ever since. Was not a good experience at all. 🙁
Wow! This was pretty intense. Kudos on undertaking this hike. I am a moderate hiker and so this was a very inspirational read
Thank you Paroma! Loved to have inspired you 🙂
Enjoy the hike, it’s not a race – so true! It’s so important to enjoy the adventure with no pressure, take the time to see, not only to watch.
Indeed. It always takes the pleasure of the adventure when you are in a hurry. Thank you Anna 🙂
A great tip about avoiding energy drinks! It looks like an amazing experience.
Thank you Karen 🙂 It was such a wake up call for me. LOL
This looks like an amazing trek! Love the video too. Cheers from Amsterdam xx
Thank you Tendelle! It was AMAZING!
Kudos to you for hiking so high! When I arrived in Colombia, my first hike wasn´t too high at all (well, compared to what is normal in the Andes) but I was breathless all the time! Even walking up the stairs to our flat, haha. This looks like a beautiful hike though!
LOL. I never even thought of myself doing this too before. 😀
Amazing hike! I’ve visited the Philippines but didn’t do any hikes. Good reason to go back!
Hope you can try this too. Mt. Pulag is awesome!
Looks like an exciting adventure! You have put together a really good list of Know before you go things. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you! It was really exciting! 🙂
Great info!.. After buying myself a huge trekking bag and some tent-gears recently, your post is motivating me enough to just get out! – haha!… Beautiful pics, btw :)..
Thank you Aarti! Would love to see YOUR adventures too soon! 😀
The batteries tip is a huge one as well as the energy drink one! I would’ve not predicted you’d feel so winded so soon after taking it – what a bummer 🙁 The views are STUNNING though! Thank you for sharing your adventure with us <3
Me too! I was feeling pumped and excited back at the Ranger Station that I was really disappointed when I began gasping for air. 🙁 You’re welcome. It was soo amazing!
I love trekking. I bet you had a lot of fun 🙂
Yes we did. It was worth all the aches after. LOL
Mt. Pulag seems awesome ! “Enjoy the hike, it’s not a race” – I like it, this is so true 🙂 It’s so important to enjoy the adventure with no hurry… Great tips especially the batteries tip as well as the energy drink one ! And regarding the bad weather, Alfred Wainwright said: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”, ha, ha
It is really awesome! I know.. It was great just enjoying the view and all! 🙂
Really pretty – I’d love to visit the Philippines! Xx, Eleonore
Hope you can visit one of this days! 🙂
Great tips for hiking newbies. Looks like a fantastic hiking experience too!!
Yes it was something really awesome! Thank you Kathi!
That looks AMAZING! Great tips, especially for people who don’t do a lot of hiking. I have to admit that it looks a bit crowded for my preference, but I guess that’s what you get in such a fantastic location.
Thank you Sarah! Yep, I’m not a fan of crowds too, but I guess everyone there also wanted to see Mt. Pulag at its finest! 🙂
I love your attitude to this climb Marvi – you’re not pretending to be a mountaineer, and I love that because most of us aren’t! I also really appreciated your advice about not drinking energy drinks beforehand as I probably would have done that! Thanks for a great read!
Awwww… Thank you Jill 🙂 Trekking is something my family enjoys and despite being new to it and all, it’s something I’ve learned to love too!
Great tips – I’ve done a few treks and it’s always good to research what you need etc beforehand. Love the video too, great views!
Exactly. We thought we were prepared, but I guess in some ways we weren’t. LOL. Btw, thank you Katie!
Wow, your pictures are really beautiful! The advice you give is helpful as well as it counts for basically any hike. 🙂
Thank you, Cristina! Well, I guess they are 🙂
Thanks for sharing! We wanted to check out mount pulag after our batad trip but we didnt have the time. Next time we’ll go. Excited for the sea of clouds!
You’re welcome Jen. 🙂 Hope you experience it too! 🙂
Lovely post and I enjoyed the video!! I’ll keep them in mind for my trip to Machu Pichu
Thank you, Kareemah! Hope the tips can help you during your trip! 🙂
Looks beautiful. Will have to add this to my plans next time I’m in the Phil’s!
It was really beautiful, Bianca 🙂 Hope you can visit Mt. Pulag, too!
What a great opportunity to go on such a big hike! And you’re right about the energy drinks, even at a normal altitude they give you a quick boost then the ‘come down’ reaction is not healthy!
It was really an eye opener for me. Been avoiding energy drinks since 🙂
I love the tips section! Definitely, will help someone going in the future!
Thank you Charmaine! 🙂
I love these tips. I’m planning on going on a long trek soon and I didn’t know that having a large quantity of energy drinks and a lack of sleep was correlated – that’s an important fact to bear in mind.
Thank you, Anshula. I am not perfectly sure on this. But it had some really weird reaction to my body. 🙁
Congrats on the accomplishment! Batteries are always my number one concern, lol. I have several backups, including once that recharges from the sun 🙂
I know! It was something that we regretted terribly. The view was amazing and not taking enough pictures / videos made me sad. 🙁
looks like an incredible trip to be doing! I did not know about this place until now but the view is one that deserves the climb.
It was really worth taking the time to do the trek 🙂
I can absolutely relate to so many of your tips. I had a very similar experience hiking to Machu Picchu. I really enjoed the video, made me want to hike up Mt. Pulag myself.
Thank you Madeline. I’m glad it was just not me! 🙂
Very interesting read with beautiful pictures!! I haven’t done any significantly long treks (yet) but will keep your great hints in mind!
Thank you Christine! Glad you found it useful 🙂
Oh my, that sea of clouds is incredible!!!!!!!!! This seems like a great hike, I’ve never been to the Philippines but when I do, I’ll be sure to give Mount Pulag a try!! I agree with you that being well rested is so important, and it’s also usually the one thing that is the hardest to get right… I’ve lots of trouble sleeping when it’s not in a quiet place, I know it would be a problem over there…
Yes, it was incredible. Such a great experience for me, too 🙂 Looking for the perfect site to pitch your tent will be important.
I have never gone on a trek before, but your post is making me interested in doing one! The scenery looks amazing. I need to go to the gym more often to build up my endurance!
Cardio exercise would be an amazing start 🙂 Hope you do try trekking soon!
The scenery is amazing, too bad about the rowdy neighbors. I’ve had that experience a few times, earbuds are a lifesaver!
Yes, it was very unfortunate. Earbuds would’ve been great indeed! 🙂
This is really helpful, and I especially enjoyed the part about the energy drinks, that would definitely be me hahaha.
I’m glad you can somehow relate to this, Danielle! 😀 Thank you!
This looks great! I’m hoping to make it to Philippines next year and I will be looking into climbing Mt Pulag too. I’ve bookmarked to article to reread as reference closer to the date. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Wow! I’m sure you will love it as much as I did! 🙂
Thanks for writing about your adventure. I’d like to do this when my wife, daughter and I visit my wife’s family again. It looks like a great adventure. Yes, sleeping pads/mat are just as important as sleeping bags, aren’t they. Please don’t ask how I know that :-).
Are stoves still allowed or have they been banned because of the fire? Candle lanterns? How many days are you on the trail and camping at Mt. Pulag?
Thanks for your input. BTW, IMO the Philippines is/are one of the most beautiful places on earth!
Hi Doug! Thank you for dropping by! We were at Mount Pulag for 2 days – the hike going to and from the summit is already included. From what I hear, they do allow stoves but hikers are required to bring a fire extinguisher.
nice one marvi and ronald!
Wui.. Thank you, Anjo! 😀