Sunrise Above the Clouds: Climbing Mount Pulag

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Mount Pulag Header Image

Mount Pulag Header Image

You may know the Philippines for the white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters, but did you know that the country also has great places for hiking? Imagine contemplating a sun rising above a sea of clouds 3,000 meters (about 10,000 feet) above sea level. Sounds dreamy? Well, let us introduce you to Mount Pulag.

Mount Pulag is the highest summit of Luzon (the main island of the Philippines) and the 3rd highest mountain in the Philippines. Due to its rich and diverse Fauna and Flora, Mount Pulag was proclaimed a National Park in 1987.

Praised for its sea of clouds that you can catch with the sunrise, Mount Pulag attracts a lot of climbers. The trek to the summit also includes passing through grass field peaks and the pine cone and mossy forests.

Walking through the grass fields

Walking through the grass fields

If you enjoy hiking and are looking for beautiful sceneries for your eyes or your Instagram feed, this is a must-do in the Philippines! However, climbing Mount Pulag requires some preparation.

This article below will provide you with all the information you need to perfectly plan your trip.

When should you climb

Wouldn’t it suck if you climb all the way to the top and don’t get to see the sea of clouds? Let’s avoid that!

According to the guides, the best time to catch the sea of clouds is between October and April. We hiked mid-February and we had our share of clouds, to the point we almost didn’t see the sun rising.

How to get to there

First, you will need to ride the bus from Manila to Baguio. Victory Liner and Genesis Bus are the two companies that can take you to Baguio. You can book your tickets online for Victory Liner hereand for Genesis Bus here. Buses take 4-6 hours to get to Baguio and will cost you between 445 PHP (about 8 USD) and 75 PHP (about 14 USD) for a one-way ticket (Victory Liner being the cheapest). Try to leave from the Cubao Station which in the safest one!

We booked the deluxe Joybus with Genesis and that was the best! Comfortable seats with more leg room (Alex is quite tall) and 4 hours travel time since this bus goes directly to Baguio without stopping.

Once you arrive at the Baguio bus station, you can either get picked up by a van (you will need to arrange it a few days before your trip) or you can ride a jeepney. You can arrange the transportation from Baguio to Mount Pulag with the DENR office when calling them to book the hike. We booked a van for 4 which cost us 4,000 PHP total (about 80 USD) for a round trip.

Booking the hike

We mentioned earlier that the park is a protected zone and a lot of climbers come to Mount Pulag. We advise booking early, at least 2-3 months before your hike if you are planning to go on the weekend, to make sure you get a slot. Know that the park has more availability during the week as fewer people come to climb.

In order to prepare the climb, you can either book a tour or do it yourself.

The good thing with tour packages is that they will take care of everything for you, from your transfer from Manila to providing accommodation and meals. The only issue is that you might arrive later than other climbers and won’t get the best spot at the summit to set up your camp and take photos. If you decide to go for this option, you can check trailadventours who offers great tour packages.

Doing it yourself will provide you with the full camping experience (that’s the one we went for 😉 ). Once you have picked your dates, you need to call the DENR office to reserve your climb. You can contact Emerita Albas at +63 919 995 1316. Alternative numbers are: +63 907 100 2626 and +63 929 166 8864.

The DENR office will also help you arrange transportation from Baguio to Mount Pulag, reserve tents and sleeping bags if you don’t have any, or reserve a home stay in case you don’t want to camp in a tent.

What equipment do you need

Unlike the vast majority of the Philippines where the weather is really hot, it gets really cold in Mount Pulag. The temperature varies between 0°C and 10°C (32°F and 50°F) at the ranger station and can drop below 0°C (32°F) at the summit. You will need to bring warm winter clothes if you don’t want to freeze.

Here is the list of the basic requirements:

  • Proper Hiking Shoes (it can get really wet and slippery. We were glad we brought proper shoes)
  • Windbreaker Jacket
  • Gloves
  • Beanie/Bonnet
  • Energy bars
  • Food (Enough for 2 lunches and one dinner)
  • Water (At least 2-3 liters per person but you can buy more at the Ranger Station if necessary)
  • First Aid Kit (Immodium, paracetamol, band aids, spirit of ammonia in case someone feels woozy)
  • Flashlights and Head Lamps (You will do half of the hike at night)
  • Trash bags (It is forbidden to litter and you are ask to bring back everything you brought with you)
  • Tissues
  • Camera Gear
  • Extra Socks
  • Change of Clothes for when you get to the campsite after the ascent (Layering is the best since the descent from the summit can get pretty hot)
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste

And for those who wishes to camp:

  • Tents
  • Sleeping bags
  • Stove
  • Gas for stove
  • Plate/Bowl/Utensils/Cup  

In addition, you can also bring a small foldable backpack or sack that you can carry to the summit, for your water,  trail food, and camera gear. Note that you can pay an additional fee to have someone carry extra weight to the summit.

Mount Pulag Camping Site

Setting up the camp

The trip

Now let us break down the trip to you:

Day 1

  • 0000 – Departure from Cubao Manila to Baguio. Try to arrive no later than 5:30 a.m. If you don’t take a Deluxe bus, estimate 6 hours as the bus will have many stops along the way.
  • 0530 – Take the van from Baguio Bus station to the DENR office. The trip lasts for about 2 hours.
  • 0800 – The DENR office opens. Make sure to be among the first ones so you can be part of the first batch to set up camp later. Take the orientation and pay the entrance fee (175 PHP for locals and 10 USD for foreigners)
  • 0900 – Head to the Ranger Station to book the guide and pay the cultural fee. The guide is 500 PHP (about 10 USD) for the group and the cultural fee is 30 PHP (0.60 USD)
  • 1100 – Lunch at the ranger station (there is a market and a few restaurants in case you didn’t bring food)
  • 1300 – Start the trek
  • 1430 – Estimated time when you will reach Base Camp 1
  • 1600 – Estimated time when you will reach Base Camp 2
  • 1630 – Set up the tent and have dinner. You should sleep early as you will be waking up very early as well!

Day 2

  • 0400 – Breakfast
  • 0430 – Start of the trek to the summit
  • 0530 – Arrival at the summit before sunrise
  • 0600 – The sun starts rising
Nanda Mount Pulag Sunrise

The reward after hiking for 4 hours in the dark!

  • 0800 – Descent from the summit back to camp 2
  • 0900 – Pack up and return to the Ranger Station
  • 1200 – Arrival at the Ranger Station and have lunch
  • 1400 – Heading back to Baguio
  • 1600 – Arrival in Baguio

From Baguio and depending on your bus departure time, you can either get dropped at the bus station or hang around Baguio.

Please note that these times are just estimations. Talk to your guide to know what the best time to start climbing is as we saw some people arriving late for the sunrise.

Also, we would like to mention that our climb was a bit different. Camp 1 and 2 being closed on the weekend, we had the whole afternoon off to relax and camp around the Ranger Station. However, we had to wake up at 12:00 a.m. on day 2 to climb all the way from the ranger station to the summit.

Make sure to ask the DENR office about the availability of the camps if you don’t want to do the whole hike in one go.

View from our camp

This is the view we got from the camp!

The Budget

Here is the recap of how much it will cost you to climb Mount Pulag. These costs do not include the purchase of food and equipment.

Activity Budget
  Bus roundtrip Manila-Baguio  Php 890-1,500/pax or US $16-28/pax
  Van rountrip Baguio-Ranger Station  Php 4,000 or US $80 (divided between the number of people)
  Mount Pulag Entrance Fee  Php 175/pax for locals and US $10/pax for foreigners
  Guide fee  Php 500 or US $10 (divided between the number of people)
  Cultural fee  Php 30/pax or US $0.60/pax
  Total (based on a group of 4 people)  Php 2,220-2830 or US $48-60/pax

 

Our personal feedbacks:

Alex:

“Climbing Mount Pulag to witness the sun rising above the clouds was one of my best hiking experience. Hiking to the summit was a bit challenging yet you don’t need to be at your top physical condition to climb.

My biggest advice: leave early to beat the crowd and get a good spot and bring enough layers. It is really freezing up there!”

Nanda:

“It was an amazing experience, one of my favorites. But this hike was definitely a challenge as you will be climbing up for 4 hours. Because of the rain, the ground turned muddy and slippery. Make sure to have proper hiking shoes to prevent accidents. Finally, dress warmly because it is really cold up there, but the view that you get is AMAZING. If I had prepared better I could have stayed longer hours there just watching that sea of clouds.”

If you find this article useful or if prices have changed do not hesitate to leave us a comment or shoot us a message. We’d love to hear from you! 😉

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