The Kibungan mountain range is what all of the Cordillera was before the age of modernization and mass tourism. There, locals still trek an hour each way every day to get to and from their rice paddies that are carved into mountainsides. People drink straight out of rivers and use caves as burial sites. One can stare out into the distance and see nothing but mountains and small villages, with no roads or cities as far as the eye can see. Kibungan is not easily accessible, and that is what preserves its magic.
This trek is not easy. It involves long rides, all-day hikes on moderate to steep terrain and bare essentials camping. Porters help us carry our load but they can't carry people up mountains, so fitness and hiking experience are required. If you are an avid hiker or simply an active traveler looking for something truly special, this is definitely the trip for you.
Activities and trip highlights:
- Three days of challenging hiking through the most scenic mountain trail in the Philippines
Day 1: Trip to Baguio
We meet in Manila in the evening and take a 6-hour overnight bus to Baguio.
Day 2: Ride to Kibungan and start of trek
From Baguio it is another 4 hours to the town of Kibungan. The road to Kibungan is winding and sometimes rough, but it is very scenic. We get to Kibungan in mid-morning and after meeting our local companions we drive 15 minutes to the trailhead and start trekking. Our trek is a circuit of the Kibungan mountain range that takes us up and down several mountains. The fun begins with a steep downhill hike and in the distance we see rice terraces carved into mountainsides. At the bottom of the downhill trail is a river that we cross via a hanging bridge. The area around the river is cultivated with rice and we hike along the edges of the paddies. The most challenging part begins at a gully that goes up a mountain. The views on that section are spectacular, with mountains, streams and rice terraces merging beautifully to form a stunning landscape. Once we reach the top of the mountain, it is a short hike to our first campsite.
Day 3: Mt. Oten
Today we hike up to the highest point of our trek, Mt. Oten at 1886 meters above sea level. At the top is a tropical pine forest where we can find interesting flora, such as pitcher plants. The trail down from Mt. Oten takes us alongside other mountains with dramatic rock walls and caves with coffins — the traditional burial place of the area's people. We then hike back up another mountain, passing through a forest of giant ferns. At the top is a great view of valleys and mountainsides with rice terraces. There we make our second campsite.
Day 4: Back to Kibungan town proper
Our last day in Kibungan begins with a long descent through a pine forest that takes us to a valley filled with rice paddies and lined all around by mountains — perhaps the most scenic place of the trip. We hike along the rice paddies and cross a couple of hanging bridges over rivers then make the final uphill hike back to the town of Kibungan. There we can sample the local coffee, grown in backyards of our companions. In the afternoon we make our way back to Manila and arrive there late in the evening.
Also see tour packages in:
Asia Philippines Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Camping