|On the peak of Mt. Pulag, Benguet, Mountain Province, Philippines at 2,922 meters above sea level. The sea of clouds and fellow mountain climbers on the background. The sun is about to rise. | Photo by Gestine Campo|
It came in an unexpected but opportune time when Travel Factor, one of the Philippines' leading adventure travel companies, invited me to go with them on a trip to their Biyaheng Victory Conquer Pulag. I immediately grabbed the opportunity to live more and travel to a new destination. I did not hesitate even though I am climbing a mountain and camping for the first time. After all, Travel Factor is known for its excellent, fun, and hassle-free way of leading a group of travelers. Traveling is surely made better when you're with them.
We were asked to attend a pre-climb, where details of our trip, like the itinerary, things to bring, what to expect, and other important details, were discussed. After that, Travel Factor sent us individual emails of our itinerary, list of things to bring, reminders, and our coordinator and his contact details. They're very organized to the small details, and very beginner friendly. They do not assume that you already know what you're going into because, as I have observed, there are a number of travelers who just book the trip wanting to experience the adventure for the first time.
|Travel Factor's Joven Santos at the DENR Office in Botoc, Benguet. Our first stopover before climbing, to get the permits and to attend a compulsory seminar about Mt. Pulag and respecting the environment around it. | Photo by Gestine Campo|
Mount Pulag is (still officially) the 2nd highest mountain in the Philippines, at 2,922 meters above sea level (masl), as of press time. Arguably, they say that it is already the 3rd highest mountain, next to Mt. Dulang-dulang in Bukidnon. Mount Pulag is bordered by different provinces, Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya, and is a National Park, which keeps its environement, lands, waters and forests protected by law.
|First time to try top loading on the jeep. It was both exhilarating and fun! You should try it once in your life, but remember to be careful.|
I was very excited, at the same time a bit nervous because this is a completely new adventure for me, but that priceless view at the summit was all that was playing through my mind, and all that was keeping me going. Also than ks to my brother Jason, who is a mountain climber, I was able to get help in securing proper equipment and in packing all my things inside the bag.
Armed with excitement and thirst for adventure, I headed to Victory Liner Cubao to meet up with our coordinator Joven of Travel Factor, and the rest of the travelers. Our Victory Liner bus to Baguio left at 10:30pm in Cubao. Our itinerary is as follows:
December 27, Friday
21:00H - Meeting at Victory Liner Cubao Bus Terminal
22:30H - ETD to Baguio City via Victory Liner Bus
December 28, Saturday
05:30H - ETA Baguio City (Breakfast)
07:00H - ETD for DENR via chartered jeep
09:30H - ETA DENR (Registration and Orientation)
10:00H - ETD Ranger Station
12:30H - ETA Ranger Station (Lunch)
13:30H - Trekking Proper
16:30H - ETA Campsite (Set camp)
18:30H - Dinner and socials
December 29, Sunday
03:00H - Wake up time
03:40H - Summit Assault
05:30H - ETA Summit
07:00H - Trek to campsite
08:00H - Breakfast
09:00H - Break camp
09:30H - Trek to Ranger Station
12:00H - ETA Ranger Station (Lunch, Wash-up)
15:00H - ETD DENR
16:00H - ETA DENR (Log-out)
19:00H - ETA Baguio City (Dinner)
21:30H - ETD Baguio City
Part 2 will tackle the actual climb and assault to the summit. Stay tuned :)
P.S. I am back and I will start to post more religiously now. 2014 will be a year of many firsts and many opportunities. It will also be a year of travel and of personal achievements. I can't wait to write more often, and to share with you my stories and successes.