Mt. Ugo considered a major climb is located in Benguet. Ugo means “beheading someone”. Scary isn’t it? They said that during the Spaniard’s era, native people used the mountain as their hiding place and at the same time this is where they beheaded their Spanish or American captives.
Another interesting story was how the mountain was discovered. It was when an aircraft – PAL bound for Baguio crashed on the slopes of Mt. Ugo last June 26, 1987. It killed all the people on board. To cut it short, with all the operations that happened in search of the aircraft it paved the way for trails, and soon, became a new hiking destination among mountaineers.
Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet
Jump-off points: Kayapa, N. Vizcaya; Brgy. Tinongdan, Itogon, Benguet
LLA: 16.31916°N, 120.80166°E, 2130 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 2-3 days, 9-10 hrs
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 5/9, Trail Class 1-3
Features: Pine forests, highland villages, views of Cordillera peaks
The original plan was to hike Mt. Amuyao, but because some of our friends can’t make it. Me, Joy, and Ivann decided to join our other friend who organized a traverse hike to Mt. Ugo. We just paid a reasonable amount for the transportation, tour guide, and registration.
We left Manila at 10:00 PM and arrived at Kayapa, Benguet around 5 AM the next day. Because it is still early to start the trek, we decided to eat breakfast first and have some coffee. A tour guide is necessary because the hike was long and we need someone who knows the mountain trail. Don’t worry if you planning to hike here because there are locals you can hire as your guide. They are very approachable and nice. We were told that only a few hikers were visiting so they were really happy that we came.
Start of the hike:
We always before we start any hike for protection. After receiving a few instructions from our guide, we are now ready to start the trek.
Hiring a tour guide is actually one way of helping the locals. Kuya said that since there are not many hikers visiting Mt. Ugo, they usually can get an extra (being guide) once every 2 weeks. So please be more kind to them. Kuya, our tour guide has this as one of his sources of income aside from being a farmer.
Going back…. the first part of the climb is an open trail. We really took our time because we weren’t in a rush since the goal was to reach Indulpit Village any time in the afternoon.
Our first-ever group pic 🙂 This is the “easy-part” of the climb. There are few slopes but most are just long paved trails. But since this is a two days hike, the challenge is the need for us to carry the weight of our sleeping bags, 2 days’ worth of water, and food. Way heavier than a day-hike.
See that fog behind us? ☺ It took us 4 and a half hours to finish the first part of the climb. The weather isn’t stable at that time. When we found out that there was a greater chance of rain in the evening, we decided to stay at the elementary school for the night rather than camp at the campsite.
Ten minutes before we reached the school where we would stay for the night. We passed by a small shed where they sell very tasty native coffee. I honestly like it and was thinking to go for a second cup but when they said it’s from the poop of Alamid and show us what it looked like before it became a coffee bean? I passed. 😂
Just below this slope is the school where we will camp for the night. The area is so wide that we can see the summit from afar. But we are not heading there yet. We will spend our afternoon and night at the school a few meters down. Then ascend the day after to the campsite and the peak.
The school looked a little creepy at first because we were the only group to camp there. But this is a luxury already considering other groups of hikers experienced heavy rain on the actual campsite and most of their stuff got wet. We rest the whole afternoon because we plan to wake up early the next day to start the trek to the summit.
In the picture are me and Joy in our sleeping bag. There’s not much to do here. There’s no electricity as well. We actually have a few creepy stories here but other than that it’s a great option to camp if the weather is not great.
Mt. Ugo Campsite/Summit:
It’s pitch-black, we were using our headlamp that early morning. The weather is clearly not cooperating. It rained the night before and it is still raining on our way ascending. It’s so cold that day good thing we have our sort of water-proof-resistant jacket with beannies on. Mind you, the oxygen level is low at this height of the mountain, we encountered a little difficulty in breathing. So, we took baby steps going up. We didn’t rush.
After hours of hiking, we were able to reach the campsite. There we met those groups who decided to camp there. We didn’t stay long because of the rain and headed directly to this mossy forest and after another hour we reached the summit.
Zero visibility because of the rain but it’s still fun and fulfilling to be able to reach this top.
Traverse in hiking means to a climb following a horizontal trail across a mountain passing by its peak; but is used loosely to mean any climb using different trails up and down a mountain. So instead of us going down through the same route we climb from, we are going down on the other part of the mountain. On this hike, from Kayapa where climb up the mountain, we will go down through Itogon Benguet. Most hikers used the Itogon trail to go up and down the mountain.
Descending was a lot more fun because of the beautiful view we passed by. The sun started to show up. We really enjoyed the magnificent view. We even got to encounter those who are participating in the trail run marathon on this mountain. My first time seeing a trail run marathon. Wow! 🙌
A little reminder before I end this blog. Make sure to bring comfortable shoes and clothes that can help you with the cold weather here. It can really get cold, especially during the night. If you have waterproof or water-resistant bags that would be great. But if you don’t, that’s fine just put your important stuff like your changing clothes and phone inside a plastic bag so it not to get wet because of the rain.
This is the Itogon bridge, the last part of our Mt. Ugo trek.
Mt. Ugo ITINERARY
2200 ETD from Cubao
0500 ETA Aritao or Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya,
0530 ETD for Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya
0700 ETA Kayapa, Registration, secure guides, breakfast
0800 Start Trek
1200 ETA Indupit Village / Lunch
1300 Resume trek to Domolpos
1700 ETA Domolpos Village. Stay in the Elementary School
0300 Wake up call, breakfast
0330 ETD to the summit
0600 ETA Mt. Ugo Summit
0800 Start descent on a very steep, ridge-like pine forest trail
1100 ETA Lusod Village, lunch, register at Brgy. Hall
1300 Resume trek
1600 ETA Itogon Village; take pictures at Itogon bridge
1630 End of trek
1730 ETD for Baguio
1800 ETA Baguio, Dinner
2000 ETD Manila
It was an amazing journey for me. Two days of hiking is no joke but it was worth every pain. I will definitely want to go back.
You might be interested: in the Tarak Ridge (Mariveles) Day Hike Itinerary and Guide. Subscribe to my friend’s YouTube Channel – Mr. Lagalag.