MT. ULAP DAY HIKE

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Back in the year 2016 when Mt Ulap is on the rise, making noise on social media filling my feeds with scenic views of the mountains, clouds and people enjoying the hike. It was my first time to hike this mountain when my friend beep me up and invited me for a day hike. I didn’t hesitate and welcomed the challenge. After 2 years I came back and I saw a huge difference with that short span of time. This 1846m high mountain in barangay Ampucao Itogon, Benguet is for beginners according to a group of professional mountaineer group, back then I would say  “I DON”T THINK SO”. But now I would say “YES!” because the trail is made easier and wider. According to our guide they changed some routes and made them easier because of the flock of tourists and hikers that rave this place. However, I still suggest you to be ready with loads of chocolates or trail food, liters of water and energy that would last for at least 5 to 6 hours.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

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Take a jeepney to Ampucao, Itogon Benguet from Baguio City. The first trip leaves at 7:30 am. Get down to Ampucao barangay hall for the registration, orientation and for your tour guide.

*Note: We first did our reservation through a google document on their facebook page. Three days before the hike I received a text message saying our reservation was approved. However, when I talked to my guide he told us that if we are less than 10 people (we are a group of 4 people) it is not really necessary because those are for travel agencies who are booking a huge number of visitors. In 2016 it was not like this. There’s no reservation needed now it is advisable to message their facebook page first.

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Mt. Ulap has 6 stations. These are Totombek, Ambanao Paoay, Gungal and Mt. Ulap (summit), Pong-ol Burial Cave which is currently closed and Sta Fe. This is the usual trail. Other hikers use the reverse one or the backtrail which ends in Mt. Ulap summit and skips Sta Fe.

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AMBANAW PAWAY

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The first peak and the most challenging, since the trail going there is purely assault. Starting from the barangay hall to Totombek, the entrance and gateway of the hike, is a decent cemented way. However, from Totombek to Ambanaw Paway is a steep ascending path. On our way, I noticed some changes on the trail. The pathway going to the peak is not what we used to pass by 2 years ago. I thought that the new path is wider and easier. Nearby is a camping site for overnight hikers.

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GUNGAL

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This peak has the best view and mostly seen on social media. The nerve racking location of the rock hanging by the cliff amazes every visitors and tempts them to challenge themselves to stand on it. It is advisable to start the trek early to get here early. The guide told us that starting at 2 pm the clouds starts to go down and cover the view. We went there in the month of April which is summer but still the clouds didn’t cooperate with us LOL.

MT. ULAP: The Summit

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An hour hike from Gungal, is the highest peak among the three. With the view comparable to some epic drama on television, all the long tiring trail is all worth it when you see the 360 view of Cordillera mountain.  Nearby down the summit is another campsite for overnight hikers and stores for souvenir, drinks and snacks.

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The Campsite

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Santa Fe

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One of the burial caves in Santa Fe station. Our tour guide inform us that, there used to be coffins with dead bodies in it but some drunk fellas make fun of them by throwing them away and some foreign hikers stole them to sell so they disappeared.

The mark that states you made it to Mt. Ulap! The traverse route states you will end here. Along the way getting here you will pass by some burial caves and stores that sell souvenirs, snacks and drinks. The trail getting down is very steep as seen on the trail map. From here there are jeepneys you can take to go back to Baguio. Although be aware that the last trip of jeepneys to Baguio is at 4pm.

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A heartbreaking view while we are passing by, it is called open pit in which they scrape the mountain to get the gold in it. It is just sad because they just left it hanging not even trying to restore the mountains. I just sigh of the thought that what if there’s no more clean, fresh air to breath can their gold buy them?

End of hike! Shopping for some souvenirs.

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You can buy your souvenirs in this station. There are t-shirts, key chains and ref magnets available.

Expenses

Jeep to Ampucao from Baguio: Php 30

Registration Fee: Php 100

Guide Fee: Php 600 maximum of 10 people

Jeepney from Philex trail to Baguio: Php 50 (if the jeepney is not full, the driver might negotiate with you to add a little for the jeepney to leave or wait a little longer)

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