BaguioPH: Spelunking at Aran Cave

From the mountains, to the land, and to the body of water, Benguet has a lot to offer. Wanna try something different this summer? If you are perfectly physically fit, how about spelunking, rappelling, and diving? Aran Cave is a perfect spot for spelunking and is only 40 minutes away from Baguio. Located in Camp 3 (Tukang) Tuba, Benguet, it is indeed a great summer experience.

As early as 7AM, we headed to Baguio City to take out food from Good Taste¬†–the Igorot Brand. ^_^ My group reached Camp 3 at 9AM. We waited for other members of the group to arrive for a couple of hours. After the orientation, we headed to the cave by 11AM. Praise God, we came out ALIVE at 3PM. ūüôā


WHAT TO BRING

1.Cash

2. Extra clothes, footwear (preferably crocs or something similar)
You will get wet. Rocks are sharp. Make sure you wear appropriate clothing.

3. Footwear. Crocs-type of footwear can be rented on site (sizes vary).

4. Food. After the 3 or 4-hour activity, you will surely be craving for food ūüôā

5. Water/water bottle. There is water safe for drinking inside the cave.

5. Camera (bring your camera inside the cave AT YOUR OWN RISK).


HOW TO GET THERE

Option 1:
Ride a jeepney (Camp 3) in front of Shopper’s Lane along Magsaysay Avenue. The terminal is just several meters away from Jollibee Magsaysay. Fare: P35 (1st trip: around 7-9AM)
Option 2:
Ride a bus that passes through Kennon Road. Just make sure to tell the conductor that you will be alighting in Camp 3/Twin Peaks near the entrance of the cave. Fare: P50-60
Option 3:
Take private vehicle going to Camp 3 (boundary of Camp 2 and Twin Peaks). There is a¬†small green sign board ‘ARAN CAVE’ on the right (if you are coming¬†from¬†Baguio City).

QUICK TIPS

1. Go early. The cave can only accommodate a few groups at a time. This means that you and your group will have to wait for your turn.
2. Bring underwater gadget protector. This is if you plan on bringing gadgets like phones and cameras inside the cave. You will be passing through a lot of water and muddy rocks inside the cave.

3. Listen to your guide. Before you enter the cave, you will be oriented on what to expect inside the cave, what to do and not to do inside the cave, and other important matters. For your safety, pay attention to what the man in charge of the orientation has to say.

4. Bring your courage. Once you get inside, there’s no turning back. Have fun! ūüôā


EXPENSES 

Entrance Fee: P125 per person (as of May 2016)
Tour Guide Fee: P120-150 per 5pax (inclusive of the entrance fee if in group)
Swimming Pool: P70 per person
Shower (without bath soap or anything ūüė¶ ) : P35 per person
Cottage (Communal): P150 per group (:()

*The tourism in the area is still¬†under development so do not expect a ‘Sumaging Cave’-type.
Aran Cave is beautiful on its own. Wait and see.

Happy Summer,

¬†ūüĎ£¬†The Official Traveler

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A Short Trek to Mt. Kalugong

Mt. Kalugong Cultural Village¬†is a privately owned eco-park which is located in Tawang, La Trinidad, Benguet. It is another tourist attraction being developed to preserve culture and promote tourism in Benguet.¬†There is a small form of rock resembling a hat on top of the mountain. Kalugong¬†is an Ilocano¬†term for “hat”¬†thus it was called,¬†‘Mt. Kalugong”.¬†Whether to discover culture and traditions of¬†the highland¬†along with¬†rock climbing¬†are some of your interests…OR you are an alumni of Benguet State University/MSAC who wants to recall memories.. this is your place¬†ūüôā


We headed to Mt. Kalugong (7:45-9:30 a.m.) which is just a few more walk away after our trek to Mt. Jumbo (4:30 a.m.-7:45 a.m.). We passed by the Tawang Cemetery and followed the trail.

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After paying an entrance fee of P50.00, it’s the green light to enjoy the place!

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Since my friends and I were a bit exhausted, we used the man-made swing to relax. They are scattered everywhere ^_^

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Tired and hungry?¬†You can sit, rest, and eat at the picnic area…

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You can see some traditional huts to represent the different provinces of  CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region). Explore their uniqueness.DSC_0583_ed.jpg

Now, it’s time to walk on the rocks… (It is risky for children and some adults). Be careful..

Hat

I am not sure if there are rescuers who can¬†immediately rescue when you accidentally fall. So, BE EXTRA¬†CAREFUL! (staff in-charge are doing multi-tasking–developing the area)

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On top of the Mountain…

The top view unleashes the beauty of La Trinidad and the view of the strawberry farm but at the same time it reveals the growing population in the municipality. It has a strong message regarding what it would look like in the future. Go and see!

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If you still have time and energy, do the zipline (c) before you leave. (We skipped this part though.)

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There is a toilet available here¬†for your convenience. It’s a little bit funny to read something like¬†this… ^_^ “Men to the LEFT¬†because women are always RIGHT” Haha ūüėÄ

KAsiljas

Go and see it for yourself. ūüôā

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Happy Trails!

ūüĎ£ The Official Traveler

Mt. Jumbo: Sunrise View, Let’s Go!

You do not need to go as far as Mt. Pulag in Benguet to catch the sunrise and have a good look of clouds and town view from the top. If you live in Northern Luzon, Baguio City or La Trinidad, it is just few kilometers away! Now, if you are interested, keep reading… (or Watch it here)

Where to Go?

Mt. Jumbo is located in Tawang, La Trinidad, Benguet. It is still unimproved in terms of artificial aesthetics thus it is uniquely authentic in nature. On top, you can see the full view of La Trinidad and a portion of nearby city, the City of Baguio. It has gained popularity among locals and soon to be widely known as a famous tourist spot in Benguet. So while it is authentic and not too many tourists, then I urge you to grab the chance and take advantage of its perks. A couple of years ago, climbing was free but as of January 2016, the entrance fee is P30.00. This amount is collected by some town officials who are guarding the area. Sooner or later the price might hike as it gains popularity over time.

When is the best time to go there?

  • It depends on your preference but I recommend early morning (5am onwards) or late afternoon (4pm onwards).

What can you do?

  • If you want to catch the sunrise, start hiking at around¬†4:30 a.m. and enjoy the view.
  • If you are lucky enough, you can see some clouds hovering the area.
  • There are formations of rocks¬†in the area where you can take photos and be like Superman.
  • You can set up your own tent and stay overnight to gaze the stars/clear sky and the city view from the top. Just make sure you bring your own tent and blanket.
  • Take some silhouette photos by 5 a.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Play with friends and create unlimited memories.

 

  • If you still have plenty of time, eat some bread/snacks while waiting for Mr. Sun.¬†There are¬†no stores (open) nearby so plan on buying your own water and some snacks ahead of time.
  • Wear your most comfortable clothes and footwear for the hike. It is COLD during the night and at dawn. It‚Äôs better to be prepared than be sorry ^_^
  • Warm yourselves up as it is windy and cold especially in the morning. Limited only to a certain few, some people¬†set up bonfire…just make sure you do not burn the mountain.
  • Bring ‚ÄúSELF-DISCIPLINE‚ÄĚ with you as you start your trek. ūüôā Respect nature, respect the local citizens. So, please TAKE YOUR GARBAGE WITH YOU when you leave. It matters!

How to Get There?


Option A

If you aim to catch the sunrise, it is better to hail a taxi at 4 a.m. and tell the cab driver to drop you to the turning point of Tomay. There is a junction on your right with a signboard, ‚ÄúTo Lubas…‚ÄĚ. Start walking from there following the main road‚ÄĒabout 2 kilometers to the bottom of the mountain. Unfortunately, there is no signboard that says, ‚ÄúThis way to Mount Jumbo‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúWelcome to Mt. Jumbo‚ÄĚ (as of January 2016) so you have to figure it out on your own. You will pass by a ‚ÄúThis way to barangay hall‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúTawang Elementary School‚ÄĚ sign posts on your right as you walk straight following the main road (near Tawang cemetery). It will take about 30-40 minutes walk up to the mountain.

[Extra Tip: There is a sign post, ‚ÄúPIGS 4 SALE‚ÄĚ near an electric post. If you see the concrete road going up, then you are on the right track. JUST go up, follow the trails, and create unlimited (photo) memories!]

Option B*

If you are traveling on a daytime (6a.m. onwards), you can ride a jeepney located near the bridge at Pines Park in Km 4. Inform the driver to drop you off at Sitio Banig to go to Mt. Jumbo.

Option C*

If you are familiar with Balili’s footpath, you can hike from Km 5 passing through Balili to reach Tawang. When you reach the main road, walk for about 30-50 meters and you can find the trail going to Mt. Jumbo.

*These options are a little bit tricky and risky for first-timers because you may miss it out. If you can, it is better to ask local who is familiar with the place to go with you to make sure you can reach the mountain top on time for the sunrise and sunset.DSC_0482

HAPPY NEW MEMORIES ^_^

Wishing you a Happy Journey,

ūüĎ£ The Official Traveler¬†

Mt. Pulag Adventure (Part 3): Quick FAQs

Q: Is Mt. Pulag the highest mountain in the Philippines?
A: No, it is not. It is the third. The highest mountain in the Philippines is Mt. Apo in Mindanao. In Luzon, however, Mt. Pulag is the highest in the Island.

Q: When is the best season to climb Mt. Pulag?
A: Having been to Mt. Pulag, I can attest that there is no guarantee that you will have a perfect view of the sea of clouds, beautiful sunrise, sunset, etc. The weather is unpredictable every minute. A moment of all-sunshine can change in the next few minutes to drizzling; the moment of crystal clear atmosphere can change into foggy everywhere. So, please take this into account in scheduling your trip. By doing so, you will save yourself from any dissatisfaction due the weather condition.

  • Dry Season: (March – May) ūüôā
    The weather is warmer. If you want to have a higher chance of experiencing the perfect sunrise and sunset, I highly recommend you to go during the summer months of the year. ^_^ 
  • Wet Season: (June – October)
    It’s almost raining all the time during this season
  • Mt. Pulag at its coldest: (December-February)
    These are the coldest months to go to Mt. Pulag when most of the frosts can be seen anywhere in the mountain.

When you climb Mt. Pulag, come prepared, expecting the coldest temperature and the most rain so that you are well-equipped

Q: How do you register with the DENR to get to Mt. Pulag?
A: If you are traveling through a travel agency, you do not have to worry about this. The agency can take care of it¬†for you. On the other hand, if you are traveling on¬†your own, you have to inform¬†the Protected Areas Office of the DENR at Ambangeg for¬†your clearance. You’ll have to call or text them through: +63-919-631-5402 (c/o Ms. Emerita “Ma’am Mering” Albas, the Superintendent at the DENR-PAO). You have to provide details of your group and the total number of people involved.
The pre-registration at the DENR:

i. Can anticipate the number of people going (so there will be enough guides)
ii. Can advise if the mountain can accommodate your group.
Maximum capacity (90-120 people per day)
iii. Can advise you if there are any security concerns
iv. Can advise you if the mountain is operational

Q: Is there potable water in Mt. Pulag? How much water should we bring?
A: You are advised to bring at least 3 liters of your own water especially if you have sensitive tummy and cannot drink unfamiliar water. The downside of this is that it can be heavy for you (unless you hire a porter).
If you are not sensitive, you can just bring 1 liter container of water because there is plenty of water to refill your container along the way to Mt. Pulag. The water is clean, and probably the sweetest water you could ever taste as it comes straight from the mountain. It can’t get any better than that. You can refill at the Ranger Station and at at least 2 spring water sources you will encounter along the way from the Ranger Station and towards Camp 2.

Q: What is the toilet situation in Mt. Pulag?
A: There’s only one real restroom located at the Ranger Station, a very basic one (I say it again, BASIC! as in SURVIVAL). ūüėÄ In Camp 2, there is an open pit planked by wood you can step on and around you for a bit of privacy. And that’s as good as it gets. ūüôā You have to have your own wet wipes or tissue.

Honestly, this was the most challenging part of my trip haha ūüėÄ But the perfect weather, sunrise and sea of clouds paid it off well (buti na lang!).
Q: How cold does it get in Mt. Pulag?

A: Never assume you will get the warmer weather when you go to Mt. Pulag. While some say the coldest was¬†experienced at -4¬†degrees Celsius in months of December to¬†February. Others say it has gone as low as -8 degrees Celsius. Regardless of the number, it’s still awfully cold so brace yourselves.

Q: Does it rain in Mt. Pulag?
A: Yes, yes, and yes. So bring a raincoat/light umbrella just in case.

Q: Can we drink alcohol in Mt. Pulag? And perhaps, smoke a cigarette or two?
A: No. Mt. Pulag is a sacred mountain and considered the dwelling place of the Gods of the natives there, as such, you are discouraged to smoke or drink alcohol. It is not only a sign of respect to the Gods of the mountain and of the native people, but also a measure to preserve the Mt. Pulag National Park which is a Protected Area.

Q: How many days can one stay in Mt. Pulag? How many days should we allot for a trip to the mountain?

A: A 2-Day trip is sufficient for the easiest trail.¬†Leave on a Friday night and be back on a Monday morning. If you have much more time, at least 3 days is good.¬†Start hiking from the DENR Office as the views from there to the Ranger Station are precious. You can also try the Akiki Trail, known as the killer trail, as it also requires at least 3 days. Others come only for the sunrise, that’s why a weekend trip is sufficient, but you can stay longer if you want to view the sunset too. If you want to document more of Mt. Pulag Experience, you can opt to stay longer for the view, know the place, and learn from the locals.
Q: How do locals regard Mt. Pulag?
A: Mt. Pulag is sacred to the locals¬†who call it home. Treat it like coming to someone’s home or place of worship. Treat it with care and with much respect. Moreover, Mt. Pulag is a tourist spot, a national park, a protected area, and is in the tentative list to be a World Heritage Site. Treat it with respect and reverence.

Q: Is there any guarantee we’ll experience great weather and see a beautiful sunrise and be above the clouds when we get to Mt. Pulag?
A: There is no guarantee. The¬†weather condition in the mountain is very fickle.¬†But if you come with the right attitude and with great company, you are guaranteed to have a great time nevertheless. As they say, “It is the journey, not the destination.”

Q: What level of physical fitness is required to conquer a mountain like Mt. Pulag?
A: Physically fit climbers need not to worry on this but being prepared physically is necessary for this adventure. Exercise at least  2 weeks prior to the climb. The exercise only serves to give you a much easier time and more chance to enjoy the view instead of always having to catch your breath.It is recommended to get clearance from your doctor first especially if you have any medical issues.

Q: Are there any conservation efforts being done to protect Mt. Pulag and is there anything I can do to support it?
Mt. Pulag is a National Integrated Protected Areas Programme (NIPAP) site. The Protected Areas Office of the DENR where you register before taking a hike collects environmental and conservation fees to help in protecting and maintaining the park. The DENR pledged to strictly enforcing the maximum capacity rule.

Q: What is the Leave No Trace Principle about, and why should I care?

The Leave No Trace Principle teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. Simply, it is captured in the nugget “Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time.” The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics actually promotes the ff. principles: (1) Plan Ahead and Prepare, (2) Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, (3) Dispose of Waste Properly, (4) Leave What You Find, (5) Minimize Campfire Impacts, (6) Respect Wildlife, and (7) Be Considerate of Other Visitors.

Ciao! Trailblazers ^_^

The HistoryMaker/The Official Traveler
– See more at: Mt. Pulag Adventures

Mt.Pulag Adventure (Part 1): 8 Steps to Get There!

Mt.Pulag Adventure (Part 2): What To Bring?

Mt.Pulag Adventure (Part 2): What To Bring?

The Packing List

So I guess you’re excited to hike! ^_^ However, before that excitement floods you, you need to make sure you have the basic things you need to pack for your trekking¬†escapade.¬†Unless you are camping in Mt. Pulag for a week, you DON’T need to bring your entire room or bookshelf in your backpack. You won’t need that much. Bringing less also means paying less for porter fees.
So, let’s get the ball rolling!
  • ¬†“EXTRA” WARM CLOTHES AND THERMAL ACCESSORIES
    If you live in a¬†region having warmer/tropical weather or if you are not used to very cold weather, you might¬†want to put extra attention on this. Philippines has no winter season however, you can’t enjoy hiking while your body shivers and freezes due to the temperature in Mt. Pulag. The temperature can drop for as low as 0-7 degrees Celsius or 32-45 Fahrenheit. Wear warm thermal clothes especially when going to the Summit preferably thick but light and waterproof. Please bring thicker clothes if you are traveling from December to February.¬†Example: Fleece jacket, scarf, bonet, trekking pants,jogging pants, gloves, socks, and head gear, etc.
  • RAIN GEAR
    In case the weather emergency, bring a lighter umbrella. The weather is unpredictable. Before we climbed, the weather was so friendly. In the middle of the trek, however, the clouds suddenly became so heavy then it began to drizzle… But it stopped in a while! yay! ūüôā
  • SLEEPING BAG/EARTH PAD/TENT
    If you are traveling on your own, you may opt to bring that warm Super Hero blanket from your closet. Why not? You will surely need it! Bring your tent with you if you plan to spend the night in one of the camp sites for the sunrise viewing. However, some people take a tour package which includes tents and food.
  • FLASHLIGHT/HEADLAMPS (with functional batteries).
    If you intend to see the sunrise, please bring headlights/flashlight with you.¬†You don’t wanna walk at a slow pace because it’s dark everywhere. Don’t miss the beautiful and breathtaking sunrise for this reason.
  • TOILETRIES
    Yes, I’m VERY sure you will need these (especially toilet paper and wet wipes).
  • WATER & REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE
    Carry at least 3 liters if you’re sensitive to unfamiliar water; or just a 1-2 liter container, easily refillable with cool, fresh, clean and potable mountain water. There are no stores in the mountain but there is a spring along the way where you can refill your¬†water bottle.
    Warning: Drink only when necessary. You don’t wanna pee often in that place -_-
  • COOKWARE
    If you plan to cook on your way, bring a portable cookware and a handy stove. If you do not want to carry such things, you can bring your pre-packed heavy meal.
  • FOOD
    You must bring food (such chocolate bars, crackers, etc.) just in case you need to boost your energy level while climbing.
    Note: Bring your own garbage bag. Do not throw your garbage anywhere. It’s very simple, keep your trashes with you.
  • CAMERA/CELLPHONE with power banksss! ^_^ and tripod/selfie pod (if you want to bring)
    For some reasons, signal for Globe, Smart and SunCell may fluctuate or may not be available so you have to inform significant people in your contacts that you are out of town.
  • SENSE OF ADVENTURE¬†^_^
    You can’t enjoy the journey without this! Whether you are going with friends or a lover, try to forget the sweat and just create¬†Happy Trails:)
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May 2014

Important Reminders

Want a hassle-free adventure? Do not bring your whole house and lot. TRAVEL LIGHT!
Bring only the things that are NECESSARY for this adventure (especially if you are traveling alone; unless you want to pay extra amount on porters for your big luggage).

Ensure you are physically fit for trekking. Individuals with special medication and attention are advised to consult the doctor if they are fit to trek.

Trash and litter have no place in the wilderness. Campfires will not be allowed. Picking, gathering, hunting, or bringing down of whatever flora and fauna is strictly prohibited.