KAYAPA, NUEVA VIZCAYA & ITOGON, BENGUET, PHILIPPINES — One of the major hiking destinations in Cordillera is Mt. Ugo. Towering at 2150+ meters above sea level, the mountain features views of other Cordillera peaks, pine forests and the cloth-eating cows. The most common entry point is in Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya then exits to Itogon, Benguet. Along the trail, hikers will also pass by the summit of Mt. Samiento (1730+). The Kayapa-Itogon traverse have a rated difficulty of 5/9.
Mount Ugo was explored in the aftermath of the PAL aircraft crash on June 1987. The crash site was just a couple of hundred yards away from the summit. The subsequent operations paved the way to the trails that hikers are presently using.
Day 0 (October 23, 2015)
The group opted to hire a private van for the whole travel duration. They met at around 11:00pm in Mandaluyong and fetched me at NLEX Sta. Rita Exit. Traffic was imminent that night in Nueva Ecija because of the recent typhoon that struck the place. Electricity was even nil at some locations. We made a brief stop at Gapan for our midnight snack. Total travel time took about 8 hours to reach Kayapa.
Day 1 (October 24, 2015): Mt. Samiento’s Summit
After having our breakfast, we met our guide, Kuya Lopez, and registered our names at the logbook of the Kayapa police station. The trek started at around 8:00am from the uphill highway of Kayapa.
During our first major rest, the group decided to have our lunch early on the trail, before reaching Indopit village.
After an hour of rest in Indopit village, another hour of trek took us to the summit of Mt. Samiento (1730+ MASL). The summit is marked by a house and a waiting shed. I just got this info post-climb. Haha!
The group decided to skip camping at Domolpos Elementary School and camp directly at the campsite of Mt. Ugo. Along the trail about an hour after passing Ansipsip waiting shed, night crawled up on us as we passed by a landslide caused by the recent typhoon. Good thing we have safely passed this obstacle. Feeling too weary, I have even lost the energy to take out the phone from my pocket to snap pictures during our final assault to the campsite.
After setting up our camp and our dinner, we spent the night protecting our belongings from the cows with murderous intent. LOL!
Seriously, cows are “mainstays” in the campsite. You can hear them sniffing around and poking inside your tent the whole night. A camper from the other group even had his clothes torn to pieces. Chewy!
Day 2 (October 25, 2015): Mt. Ugo’s Summit
Too excited for the sea of clouds, I was the earliest to get out of the tent and wait for the sunrise. There was a sea of clouds, but sadly it was a bit far away. Well, even Mt. Pulag doesn’t have it. So, I think it’s safe to assume someone from the other side share the same sentiments. After breakfast, we headed for the summit of Mt. Ugo.
The whole day was spent counting the kilometer markers. Sadly, the road where vehicles could fetch hikers near Sitio Lusod are blocked by obstacles from the typhoon so we had no other choice but to walk our way through the other route to Kawayan village. Because of that and of our pacing, we reached the Petican Hanging Bridge at night.
The chartered van/jeep was waiting from the Km. 0 marker & waiting shed and brought us to the barangay hall of Tinongdan, where we registered, took our rest and soothed ourselves with a nice bath.
Anyways, the hike to Mt. Ugo (and the unknowingly-added Mt. Samiento) was a very rewarding experience since this was my first major hike after three minor hikes this year. Yey!
TRAVEL GUIDE / TIPS
- HOW TO GET THERE. Ride a Victory Liner Bus in Kamuning, Quezon City bound to Tuguegarao/Isabela. Drop off point is at Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya (P350 fare, 6 hours travel time). Ride a tricycle to the Kayapa-bound van terminal. The van fare is about P60, about 1 hour travel time.
- REGISTRATION. Contact Ramsee (+639195222881) from the Tinongdan Barangay Hall prior to the climb to help you arrange the guides, chartered Itogon van/jeep and the climbing certificates. Register your names at the police station near Kayapa Public Market. No fees will be collected at this point, you’ll also meet your guide here. After the hike, pay the registration (P200/person), guide & van fees at the Tinongdan Brgy. Hall.
- GUIDES. Guide fees are standardized at P500/day. Porter fees have the same rate. Tips are definitely okay.
- CHARTERED ITOGON VAN/JEEP. The local government unit requires hikers to charter a van/jeep from the waiting shed at the Km. 0 marker towards the Brgy. Hall of Tinongdan. After the registration, the same vehicle would take you from Tinongdan towards Baguio City. As of October 2015, the van rental costs P2,200. If you have a private vehicle or driver, he needs to wait at Baguio.
- Strictly NO SMOKING in Nueva Vizcaya. Otherwise, you’ll be fined P2,000. Better obey than lose your money.
- Whenever you pass by gates along the trail, have the courtesy to close them. These gates serve as territory separators for the roaming cows, goats and horses.
- Prepare yourselves for the cold night. Find
someonesomething to cuddle.
- COWS EAT CLOTHES. You’ve been warned.
This sample itinerary was suggested by Pinoy Mountaineer. Our actual itinerary skipped Domolpos and Lusod villages, had our lunch on the trail, and had reached both the summit and the exit at night because of a slower pacing and of the road obstacles because of the previous typhoon. Following PM’s IT would be better if you would want well-lit pictures for the final assault prior to campsite and for the hanging bridge. 😉
2300 ETD for Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya via Isabela-bound bus
0500 ETA Aritao or Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya
0530 ETD for Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya via rented jeepney
0700 ETA Kayapa, register at police station, secure guides, breakfast
0800 Start trek
1200 ETA Indopit village, lunch
1300 Resume trek to Domolpos
1700 ETA Domolpos village, stay in Domolpos Elementary School
0330 Wake up-call, breakfast
0430 Commence final leg to summit
0700 ETA Mt. Ugo Summit
0900 Start descent on a very steep, ridge-like pine forest trail
1200 ETA Sitio Lusod, lunch
1300 Resume trek
1600 ETA Kawayan village, take pictures at Petican bridge
1630 End of trek, chartered van/jeepney will be waiting at the shed
1700 Arrival at Tinongdan Brgy. Hall, log-out, rest, tidy-up
1800 ETD for Baguio via chartered van/jeepney
1830 ETA Baguio