Tag Archives: Mountain Ranges

Ampucao – Sta. Fe Traverse (Mt. Ulap): A Beginner’s Guide

Northern Luzon is known for its Cordillera mountain range composes of all provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province. There is the famous Mt. Pulag, 3rd highest peak in the Philippines lies. Yet another mountain lover destination is becoming popular to both experienced and first timer mountaineer – Mt. Ulap.

Located 16.2904 N, 120.6312 E, 1,846 meters above sea level which showcases grassland, panoramic view of cordillera mountain, pines ridges and rocky edges landscape. From the grassland slopes of Ambunao Paoay to rocky deges of Gungal Rock, and then to the highest point, Mt. Ulap, such a nature beauty.

Pointers to remember.

  • The traverse is a bit tricky with uphill and downhill climb. Be sure to make use of a good pair of hiking shoes. Regular running shoes is fine and be more careful won’t hurt you.
  • Be sure to have some heavy breakfast before you set foot for a hike. You don’t want to go back and spoil your first climb with embarrassing moment.
  • Bottled water is a must.
  • You may also want to bring some food to eat for lunch.
  • Keep in mind the Seven Leave No Trace Principles.
    • Plan ahead and prepare.
    • Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
    • Dispose of waste properly.
    • Leave what you find.
    • Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire).
    • Respect wildlife.
    • Be considerate of other visitors.
  • Be extra careful when taking pictures at the Gungal Rock.

Beginner’s guide.

  1. From Victory bus terminal, you can take a taxi going to Ampucao Jeepney Terminal which is located in Lakandula Street near Baguio Center Mall. 10 minutes.
  2. Take a jeepney going to Ampucao High School for Php.31.00, Php.29.00 for students. Travel time is approximately 45 minutes.
  3. Quick detour to barangay hall inside the school premises to pay the registration fee for Php. 100.00 per person and secure a guide for Php.400.00. That should take you approximately 30 minutes.
  4. After securing necessary fees, from barangay hall to jump off (entry point) is about 10-15 minute walk.
  5. Start the trek. The first part is an uphill climb through slopes. Thick pine trees give you shed from sunlight. The trail goes up and soon becomes scenic with views of Mt. Sto. Tomas and Baguio City, Mt. Pulag and Mt. Arayat.

    1 to 2 hours.

  6. First peak is the Mt. Paoay. It came from paoay grass which is abundant in the area.

    1 to 2 hours.

  7. Reach Gungal rock. Gungal is a local dialect which literally means missing one front tooth. It was said that the Gungal rock was once a big chunk of rock but because of 1990 earthquake, the facade of this rock was damaged losing a tooth, locals started to call it ‘gungal’ henceforth.

    1 to 2 hours.

  8. Highest peak is Mt. Ulap.

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    Well, our guide Randy told us that this area was not called Mt. Ulap then. This was only named Mt. Ulap because of this. (See picture below)

  9. Start a downward hill to exit point in Sta Fe. About 2 hours.

    1 to 2 hours. I think this is the most difficult part because of a downhill slope. Any mistake step can be really fatal. As our guide Randy always remind us said, “May kapupulutan ka” and for sure there is.

  10. When you reached the cement pathway and hanging bridges you are now very close to exit point at Sta. Fe. where you can rest, have snacks, congratulate each other and prepare for heading back to Baguio town proper.

Overnight Camping.

Local management allow hikers to set up camp at the mountain. Just below summit is a place selected for campers to set tents. An overnight camp fee of Php.800.00 and a guide fee of Php.500.00 are required.

Things I Like.

  1. Management come prepared in worst case scenarios. During our hike, one of the hiker from the other group got sprain ankle, the local guides immediately went to rescue with stretcher. Note, they are paid extra for that but it is the local management who pays them taken from the fees paid by the hikers. It will be your good will gesture if you want to give them anything as “thank you” but they are not expecting any at all.
  2. Cellular signal is available in most parts of the trail.Amazing!
  3. Guides are friendly and accommodating.
  4. Local management takes care of the mountaineers.

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