Sightseeing in Benguet
Things to Bring for the Hike
I've been dreaming of clouds in my head for the past few days. The moment we've start planning for our next climb the exciting feeling overwhelms me almost everyday. I love the mountains and I believe its a mutual understanding, i have this feeling that the mountains is calling me to meet them. I'm just drawn to its beauty, addicted to the pain of climbing its slopes, the motivational view, the summit climb and the deep sense of friendship between man and nature. This is love, this is love and I'm loving it.
Its been a year since our most challenging climb in Mount Kota Kinabalu and now we're heading to another epic adventure. This time around we're heading to the Sea of Clouds. It is considered as one of most beautiful mountains in Philippines. Mt. Pulag stands 2,922 metres above sea level and is located between the border provinces of Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya. A few years ago it was the second highest mountain next to Mt. Apo in Davao, however according to the new standing it is officially the third highest mountain in the Philippines. I'm glad we choose Philippines for our climb, our country can offer so much more than just its natural beauty but also the ambiance, the people and the weather, it is simply The perfect destination for everybody.
Singapore to Manila, Philippines 1035-1415
There's four of us climbing Mt. Pulag; my two loyal climbing buddies plus another additional member of the gang is my buddy's sister. All for of us booked our promo flight months before our desired trip. I've settled our Mt. Pulag camp package with 8 wonders travel tour which includes our transportation, meals, tent and a guide. I wanted a DIY plan but with the permits and all the news for limited climbers per day, prioritizing the tour groups, I figured it wasn't really a good idea.
The scheduled meet-up time was 9 in the evening with Victory Liner Bus Service in Pasay. We arrived on time in Manila so there ample of time to eat, shop and maybe watch a movie. Traffic is bad as usual. It took us 2 hours to get to Mall of Asia from the airport, which was just 30 minutes away. We planned on watching Jungle Book, surprisingly all the cinemas only shows The Avengers Civil War. Instead of watching the movie we spent our remaining time eating at Congo Grill that my friend insisted we should try. While waiting for our food we went inside the department store to buy Sandugo sandals for out Mt. Pinatubo hike, cost around 600 php. Eventhou our bus was still around 9 in the evening we arrived an hour before time. However, when we got there the tour coordinator told us that our scheduled bus was still around 10:30 pm. Good thing the bus terminal has clean toilet facilities so we were able to wash our face and brush our teeth. I'm getting accustomed to this kind of habit, most of my travels now involves night bus rides.
Victory Line Bus from Manila to Baguio
Travel time: 4-5 hours
Fare: 450 php -700 php (Covered with our Tour Package)
Tour Operator: I won't recommend our Tour Group
Baguio is different from Manila, less crowded, less vehicles and the temperature is cold. Thou the city is getting more urbanized now compared last time I visited I still like it because its closer to the mountains. The temperature in the city can drop up to 11-13 degrees in the early morning, better get those jackets ready during the trip. We arrived early in the morning giving us ample of time to go for sightseeing. Our first stop is the Ambuklao Dam a hyroelectric facility in Bokod, Benguet Province.
Next stop is the Daclan Sulphur Spring also known as "Badekbek Sulfur Spring." No swimming is involved at all it was just a sightseeing sidetrip. A boiling pot of muddy, sulphur with a faint smell of something metallic.
Last stop was the Jangjang Hanging Bridge, 290 metres long and is one of the longest bridges in Benguet. There's a 10 person limit notice in the bridge and people don't mind it all. During that time It was pretty much crowded, I'm sure it was more of them there. We more hungry that adventurous at that given time, so we just had a quick peek and that's it. We went straight to the DENR office afterwards for a brief orientation of our climb and signed our attendance. Reached base camp early in the afternoon however we were not able to set up camp right away as our equipments were left behind by the tour group. One of the reasons why I do not recommend the tour coordinator for anyones climb.
Packing for these trip was quiet a challenge as we will be carrying our bags on our shoulders most of the time. I wanted my bag to be lightweight as possible. Here are few things I've packed the trip. I needed to prepare clothes for two hikes: Mt. Pulag and Mt. Pinatubo and a winter wear for the summit climb.
Vacation Checklist: (5 days 4 nights)
Motto: Trave light. Less is More.
- Top (2 dri-fit shirt, 3-5 sleeveless top) - I end up buying one top for the last day.
- 2 Compression leggings - I washed one of it which I used for the last day.
- 1 Jogging Shorts
- 1 Windbreaker Jacket with Fleece -Temperature in the summit drops up to 2 degrees. Better come prepared.
- 1 Heatech top and leggings (optional)
- 2 Poncho - Weather is unpredictable in the mountains.
- 1 Waterproof Trekking Pants
- 3 Extra Hiking socks - Choose thick and breathable hiking socks.
- Trekking Shoes - I prefer hi-cut shoes for good support.
- Slippers -Life-saver after a long hike.
- Waterproof Gloves
- A Bonnet , Neck scarf - Buy those outdoor neck scarf which is multipurpose: as you can use it as face mask against the wind during the summit climb, a neck warmer, even as a head gear and sweat absorber.
- Small hiking bag - I've purposely brought it with me for my camera and to pack my snacks, first aid, whistle, jacket, gloves and bonnet during the descend as it get warmer in the morning.
- Plastic bags - For soiled clothing after the hike.
- Sleeping bag (optional)
- Large Garbage bags (at least 2 pcs) - This comes in handy when it rains as it serves as a bag cover and more importantly as a mat you can sit on in the summit, at the same to collect your trash.
- Headlamp plus extra batteries - Test it again and again or you'll end up like me using my phone light while hiking in the dark.
- Personal whistle - Hook this up with you all throughout the climb. A necessity for climbers, emergency situations happen when you least expect it.
- First Aid Kit (bandage,plaster,alcohol swabs,antibacterial ointment/betadine, vomiting meds, paracetamol)- A must bring for everyone. Be a responsible climber)
- Tissue Paper (wet and dry)
- Mess kit (plate/container bowl, camper utensils) - The tour group can provide this.
- Water bottle (at least 3 liters for those with sensitive tummy if not then a 1-2 liter container will do which is easily refillable with cool, fresh and clean mountain water)
- Personal Trail food (candies, chocolates, cookies)
- Camera - Pack lots of silica gels to absorb moisture. I've also placed it inside the corners of my bag. This is a campers life hacks I'm graciously sharing to everyone as it really works big time.
- Powerbank - There's no electricity in the base camp, welcome to the outdoor life!
- Passport, Ticket, Visa , COE (for OFW)
- Shades - This is a must-have as it hides tired eyes and a great sleeping tool.
- Toothbrush , Cotton buds
- Sunblock ,Toothpaste, Shampoo, Soap - Distribute this among your gang which we always do with my climbing buddies. Maybe leave the shampoo and soap in the hands of your hotel service. Besides a sachet of shampoo is always on hand in all Sari-Sari stores(Convenient stores) in Philippines.
- Underwear - I prefer sports bra as it is a climbing trip. Avoid cotton for the undies.
- Two piece Bikini - I would never leave without this babies. We planned on pampering ourselves at a Spa resort in Antipolo after all our climb.