Never underestimate the power of having a friend in your travel destination.
I love to travel and I always take advantage of it whenever I can.
In fact, my first job after graduation was travel, and that’s why I said that “Yeah” When my former mentor asked me to join his team to conduct field research for a project he was working on, I didn’t hesitate. I was traveling and getting paid while doing it. However, after the project was over, I had to go back to Baguio City, where I live, and I tried to do office work for a while until I decided to go back to school for graduate studies.
Between the busy life of graduate school and running a home business, I traveled here and there whenever I got the chance. However, one of the most wonderful adventures I had in May 2014 was finally being able to see the stunning sunrise of Mount Pulag in Kabayan, Benguet. It would never have been possible if my friend, Leslie, who is local, had not invited us there and made all the arrangements for the trip. We initially only planned to hike Pulag Mountain. We ended up doing more and doing some of the coolest stuff out there.
Now I have to apologize that I can’t give any advice on how to arrange travel there, because as I said, Leslie arranged everything for us, because she felt that she was a local, she could give us a fair price for transportation that It takes us to the starting point of Mount Pulag, and secondly, we simply didn’t have time to do it ourselves. Everything was fine for us.
Well then I made my excuse. Can I please, please, please tell everyone what amazing things we did in Kabayan, Benguet right now without any excuses? ok then
Here is my list of great things to do in Kabayan, Benguet
Ride a motorbike on your way to the ranger station, the starting point of Mount Pulag.
OK. I want to put this first because I want to make it a point that when you go to Kabayan, Benguet, you will never miss the opportunity to climb Mount Pulag. I mean, it’s the third highest mountain in the Philippines at 2,992 meters above sea level. You will experience many things and this is my number two. But by riding a motorcycle to the starting point instead of a regular jitney ride, you will also enjoy this journey. If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy the thrill of speed. Fair warning, though, the motorcycles aren’t exactly new, so if you have reservations about a full-on motorcycle memoir adventure, I recommend you just stick with the jitney. You cannot drive the motorbikes yourself as the locals who offer the ride do the driving themselves which happens to be safer as they are familiar with the terrain. Also, if it’s rainy and foggy and you don’t know the terrain at all, it’s better to trust the locals. They offered us a ride for PHP 200.00 each (about $4.50).
Experience Pulag Mountain
According to our guide, there are two ways to do it: you can take Akiki trail (longer route) to go up and Ambangeg trail down (shorter route) or vice versa. The first option takes about three days and two nights to reach the peak while the second option only takes one day and night to reach the peak. We chose the latter option as we felt we couldn’t fully commit to a three day-two night climb as we’re not really that athletic. We decided to take the shorter route first and then the Akiki route and maybe do the reverse next time. It was still great! I tell you, you will stop many times to take in the stunning scenery you pass by and even forget to take pictures because you are just mesmerized.
Witness the sunrise of Mount Pulag
Well, let me tell you at this point that you will not be allowed to set up camp on the summit. The closest you can camp is at Camp 3, which is at least a 30-minute climb to the summit. It took almost an hour because I am not an athlete. In fact, I was almost crying for rescue as we crawled to the top. But I’m glad I braved waking up at 4am and freezing temperatures to see the sunrise. it. Was. Spectacular – Spectacular. Now some may not be lucky enough to see the sunrise as it may be cloudy, which some travelers say happens in November to January, but I hear the cloud bed is just as spectacular.
Visit four lakes
Unfortunately we could not visit all the four lakes as our legs hurt and more climbing is required to complete the four lake visits. We did this after descending from Mount Pulag and after a night’s rest at Leslie’s house in Kabayan. Some locals offer homestays for travelers who want a night’s rest after all the Mount Pulag adventure before traveling to other destinations, such as Four Lakes. There are four lakes Lake Tabio, Ambulalkao Lake, Lepangpus LakeAnd Inkulos Lake. Since Leslie’s place is the closest to Lake Ambulalacoa, it was the only lake we were able to visit. It was great though, as there was a short climb from the main road and it looked like a scene from a fairy tale movie or a gateway to a secret garden.
Visit the ancestral burial sites at Tinongchol Cave
Kabayan, Benguet is home to the Ibaloa group, an indigenous people (IP) group in the Philippines. This is especially interesting to me because I studied social anthropology as an undergraduate. The Ibaloi were known for embalming their dead in the past, but some still do, according to grandmother Leslie, who was born and raised in Kabayan. This was confirmed by Leslie’s father and uncle who helped with some of the mummy burials. You will be surprised. I promise.
As soon as we reached the burial place, we saw a big round rock. Leslie’s father pointed to it and said, “This is the burial ground.” Our jaws dropped. Part of the rock hangs from the ground and yet a hole can be made in it to insert the coffins. We were careful to be very respectful because we know we are in a sacred burial, so we kept our sound to a minimum and took our photos at a zoom angle so nothing would be moved accidentally or on purpose. We also asked Leslie’s family for detailed permission if we could photograph the partially exposed bones in the burial stone closest to the ground.
Finally, meet the locals
People are always interested in me. People always have stories to tell. A travel destination will always be more unforgettable and enchanting if you get to know the culture and stories of the people who live there. For example, Leslie’s parents have an interesting story of how they met. His father used to be a former member of the Philippine Constabulary who was assigned in Kabayan. He met his mother and this was the beginning of his journey to become part of the Ibaloi culture. He was originally from Pangasinan, but he has been living in this place for a long time and now he can speak fluent Nabalo (Ibalo language) and occasionally guides tourists to Mount Pulag.
And Leslie’s grandmother, oh her lovely, lively, wonderful, energetic grandmother, was amazing. He kept teasing us at Nabalao about how we were so weak that we couldn’t climb the fence that blocked the stairs on the way down to the burial ground. The nimble 70-year-old himself even demonstrated twice how to climb the fence. We just fell in love with him at that moment.
So that’s it, that’s my short list. Now go ahead and make your adventure in Kabayan, Benguet. I’m sure you can add more to this if you visit Kabayan. Make a longer list. Discover more than we have. Ask other travelers for recommendations, ask locals for recommendations, read more blogs for recommendations. just do it. I can guarantee that you will fall in love with this place.
About the author
April Bangkayawan. I am a girl from the Philippine Cordilleras, tracing my roots to Sagada, Mountain Province, another popular travel destination in the Philippines. I would love to be able to travel first all over the Philippines, then Asia, and then the world. But first I have to complete my studies and then pass the exams. Until then, I will continue to be the happy and curious casual traveler that I consider myself to be.
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