It's our first adventure with my partner for this year 2016 and we set this trip the day before our 11th monthsary as our celebration. Due to rampant promotions in social media, the undeniably beautiful rock formation in this mountain became one of the best spot for photo op. We decided to hike this popular mountain in Cordillera, the Mount Ulap which located in Itogon Benguet. This scenic view of famous rock formation the "Gungal Rock" is one of the landmark and "stop over" before we reach the summit.
We also invited some of our hiking/travel buddies who liked low budget trip. Fortunately they're interested with the destination that we chose. Friday night January 22nd, our group met at Victory Liner bound to Baguio, we left by 9:30PM and arrived around 3:30AM, it was almost 6 hours of travel time. I’ve been in Baguio for many times, sadly I can’t memorize some part of the place because I’m dependent riding a cab. After our light breakfast in 7'eleven, we went to Lakandula Street, it's beside Centermall and Jollibee where we found the terminal jeep going to Barangay Ampucao Itogon Benguet. The challenging part by commute especially when you are in tight budget is that you need to wait the jeepney until its filled with passengers and occupy all the seats.
Briefing with our Guide
Estimated travel time from Lakandula to Ampucao is around 30-45minutes, not too far from Baguio. It was around 7:00AM when we arrived in Barangay Ampucao, the barangay is well organized in assigning a guide for each group. After we paid the mandatory guide fee and registration fee they issued a receipt, a proof that we are registered at their barangay, just in case of emergency.
For precautionary measures, our guide Joel conducted a short orientation regarding the DO's and DONT's in the mountain. We started our hike around 7:30AM, I felt excited because it's another mountain for me to document in my blog and to share my experiences. Just a little bit nervous because I stopped mountain climbing for a little while, no proper exercise and training so I’m not sure if I can still do it and survive.
Intersection going to Mt. Ulap
Before you reach the trail map signage, you will walk through a slight steep paved road. The trail going to Mt. Ulap summit is not too technical, but one of the challenge when you start your hike late is that some part of the trail is open and a skin protection is a must since there are only part of the trail shaded with Pine trees, the trail is more exposed on sunlight. During weekend expect a big crowd of hikers because of its accessibility by commute or by private car and a budget friendly trip.
First part of the trail
View along the trail
” Take A Quiet Walk With Mother Nature. It Will Nurture Your Mind, Body, And soul. ”
Anthony Douglas Williams
Past 10:00AM when we reached the famous landmark the “Gungal rock” one of the highlights climbing Mt. Ulap apart from the summit. As they said, your adventure would be incomplete if you don’t have your selfie or emo pose in this rock, ofcourse I won't let it pass without it. The awkward part is, a lot of hikers are lining up and waiting for their turn, so guys be sensitive and give chance others to experience it too.
After our photo op in Gungal rock, our Take 5 is the most important part of this hike. Hehe. Our guide suggested to have our lunch 5-minutes away from the summit because it's the only shady part and has enough space.
Mt. Ulap summit
Finally we reached the summit for almost four hours, the cool breeze and 360 degree views of the uphill terrain is a great relief. Luckily when we were at the summit we witnessed a cloud formations, a piece of heaven it is! I’m not sure why they called it Mt. Ulap, I forgot to ask our guide either, but for me this is my own version--When in summit, you could almost reach the clouds, its as if the Creator is already with you and just waiting a voice whisper in your ears. With the elevation of 1,800+ meters above sea level it is really possible that you can touch clouds.
Its time to go down, our guide mentioned that we will descend in a 90-degrees elevation. WHAT!? Sounds exaggerating.
But when I saw the trail and a rattan tied in a tree its not exactly 90-degrees as what he said but technically it is challenging for a newbie, even for those experienced ones.
We took a quick glance in Pong-ol burial caves, a burial tradition in Cordillera region. This is considered also as one of the main attraction in climbing Mt. Ulap, just like I've already seen in other part of Benguet such as Kibungan and Kabayan Benguet.
Past 1:00PM when we arrived in Barangay Sta. Fe Itogon Benguet, where you can rest and refresh. There are mini stores where you can buy cold drinks and snacks too. At the exit point where the jeepneys are waiting, you'll walk along a cemented footpath and few hanging bridge, and it's around 5 to 10 minutes to reach the main highway.
Hydro Falls in Tuba Benguet
We're back in Baguio by 3:30PM which is just enough time for our side trip. We asked the locals how long will it take to get to Hydro Falls and they said around 20 minutes. We never think twice, we're running out of time so we rode a jeepney rightaway bound to Camp 6. However, we never anticipated the traffic because of the road widening. We were stuck for almost an hour... thank God we finally move before 5:00PM.
We hike and walk along the boulders going to the falls for 10-15 minutes and finally when we get there.. the reward is priceless! We only soaked in for 10 minutes, have some picture taking then leave.
Hydro falls from afar
Challenging part of boulders going to Hydro falls
Thanks mother nature for keeping us safe and sound. And ofcourse, to sum it up.. good taste restaurant is the perfect reward!
How to get there:
Board any bus bound to Baguio City.
From bus terminal ride a cab and tell the driver to drop you off in Lakandula St. beside Jollibee and Baguio Center Mall. Then you will notice a tarpaulin/banner of Mt. Ulap, to be sure better ask the locals around the area or terminal of jeepney going to Ampucao. The jeep bound to Ampucao is directly going to registration area of Mt. Ulap.
Board any bus bound to Baguio City.
To get there, ride a jeepney bound for Camp 6. These jeepneys are located behind Harrison Baguio City. The jeepney fare is 17.50 one way, and tell the driver to drop you off in going to Hydro falls. the landmark going to Hydro falls are waiting shed and hanging bridge. Take note you have to be patient until the jeepney is full, but if you have a lot of budget you can hire a cab.