Mount Pulag National Park
Mount Pulag (or sometimes Mount Pulog) is the third highest mountain in the Philippines. It is Luzon’s highest peak at 2,922 meters above sea level. The borders between the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya meet at the mountain's peak. It is the third highest mountain in the Philippines, after Mount Apo and Mount Dulang-Dulang.
On February 20, 1987, a large part of the mountain was designated as a National Park with Proclamation No. 75. This act aims to preserve the environment around the mountain due to threats from increased development such as conversion to agricultural lands, timber production, hunting, and increased tourism.
The National Park is inhabited by different tribes such as the Ibalois, Kalanguya, Kankana-eys, Karao, Ifugaos and the Ilocanos. The indigenous people of Benguet consider the mountain to be a sacred place.
Flora and fauna
The mountain hosts 528 documented plant species. It is the natural habitat of the endemic Dwarf Bamboo, (Yushania niitakayamensis) and the Benguet pine (Pinus insularis) which dominates the areas of Luzon tropical pine forests found on the mountainside. Among its native wildlife are 33 bird species and several threatened mammals such as the Philippine Deer, Giant Bushy-Tailed Cloud Rat (“bowet”) and the Long-Haired Fruit Bat. Mount Pulag is the only place that hosts the 4 Cloud Rat species. It has one of the most diverse biodiversity of the Philippines, with the newly found (since 1896) 185 grams Dwarf cloud rat, Carpomys melanurus, a rare breed (endemic to the Cordillera) and the Koch pitta bird among its endangered denizens.
Because of its high elevation, the climate on Mount Pulag is temperate with rains predominating the whole year. Rainfall on the mountain averages 4,489 mm yearly with August being the wettest month with an average rainfall of 1,135 mm. Snow has not fallen on its top in at least the past 100 years.
At nighttime, temperatures can reach near-freezing levels.
It is possible to make arrangements for jeepneys from Baguio to take you directly to the Badabak Ranger Station. This significantly cuts climbing time, and it makes possible a 2-day Pulag climb.
The summit views of Pulag are breath-taking. On a blessed time, seas of clouds form beneath, covering everything but the highest points in the Cordilleras.
As the highest mountain in Luzon, Mount Pulag attracts a lot of mountain climbers. Highlights of the climb include the montane forests and the grassland summit with its "sea of clouds" phenomenon. There are four major trails up the summit: the Ambangeg, Akiki, and Tawangan trails from Benguet and the Ambaguio trail from Nueva Vizcaya. These trails are managed by the Mount Pulag National Park, under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Depending on the trail, a climb may take 1–4 days, with the easiest being the Ambangeg trail. The difficulty level of the climb ranges from 3 to 7 out of 9 in the local classification system. No special equipment is required for the climb.
All climbers are advised to bring their own supplies for the duration of their stay at the Park. Most supplies may be purchased at reasonable prices in Baguio City's public market, numerous shops and convenience stores. Food and drinks, cold weather clothing, first aid, cooking needs are all available in Baguio. Mt. Pulag souvenirs are available at the Ranger station where climbers are required to register prior to their unforgettable adventures at the Mt. Pulag National Park.
Unless you are part of a tour group where meals are provided for, food and drinks must be packed for the duration of your stay in the Park. Today's backpacks and camping gears have developed where everything may be carried and still maintain the acceptable weight levels for climbers. Camping stoves and dehydrated foods are available for climbers as well as MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) for convenience. Campers must also bring along an adequate supply of potable water as there are non readily available in the park.
Water is the most convenient drink suggested on a Mt. Pulag climb. Considering the weight factor involved, at least water has a variety of uses to the climber. Water may be used as a drink, for cooking, washing, hygiene and first aid. 1.5 liters per person per night is the suggested quantity by the Zeta Phi Sigma Mountaineering Group (established 1974).
For day trekkers (those who intend to spend the night at the community nearby particularly Babalak), they can call avail for Homestay in some of the houses. Spend the night within the community, wake up early morning, 1:00 AM, start trekking at 2:00 AM for the sunrise at the summit.
There are a few campsites to choose from: Camp 1 is still within the mossy forest area; in Camp 2 the grassland is just beginning (2600+ MASL). There is also another campsite which goes beyond the summit, on the way to the Akiki trail. This is the saddle campsite and is preferred by those who want close proximity to the summit. Camp 2 is the most advisable campsite, with a close water source, latrines (work in progress), nice views, and more manageable weather conditions. However, the saddle campsite, being very the near the summit, takes you as close to the sky as possible. Either way, temperatures can plummet to near-freezing levels.