MT. TAPULAO/ TARLAC-ZAMBALES TRAVERSE
Mayantoc, Tarlac and Palauig, Zambales
Entry point: Brgy. Labney, Mayantoc
Exit point: Brgy. Dampay-Salaza, Palauig
LLA: 15.4833 N, 120.1166 E, 2037 MASL
Days requires / Hours to summit: 3-4 days / 14 hours
Specs: Major Climb, Difficulty 8/9, Exploration, Trail class 1-4
Information and pictures for this article were provided by the Tarlac Mountaineering Club. PinoyMountaineer congratulates their group for their pioneering efforts as the second group to take this trail, and we express gratitude for their support and for making this article possible.
PinoyMountaineer is pleased to feature the traverse trail of Mt. Tapulao – a pioneering effort of Tarlac Mountaineering Club, the second group to peform the traverse. According to them, this trail which comes from the northwest is much more challenging than the regular Zambales route, and both trails can be covered by a traverse. Moreover, the variety of environments in this trek is touted as the greatest reward of doing the traverse. An itinerary is described in this article. For the regular Mt. Tapulao trail, visit the Mt. Tapulao via Zambales page in the blog.
The traverse trail starts off at Brgy. Labney in Mayantoc town in western Tarlac. The first leg involves river crossing in relatively open trails reminiscent of Mt. Cinco Picos. Beyond the rivers, an ascent by grasslands is commenced until one reaches Mt. Kinaulaman (795 MASL). Here, one can have lunch.
Beyond Kinaulaman, the next attraction of the trail are bamboo forests. The TMC guys noted in particular the presence of “jade vines and wild berries” here. And then, the first day is concluded with a descent to Zambales river, the last known water source and the border between Tarlac and Zambales.
The next day can either be a very long day extending into the night, pushing it to the Mt. Tapulao summit. Or, you may camp four hours away, within the mossy forest. Basically, the second day will start off on a bald, steep hill, proceed to an Ugo-like pine forest, and finally enter a forested area which soon turns mossy. This forest packs a lot of floral surprises, such as pitcher plants. If the group still has energy, then you can proceed to the summit of Tapulao.
From the summit of Tapulao, the next day, it is an easy walk down the rough road to Brgy. Dampay-Salaza.
0100 Take bus from Manila to Tarlac City
0500 ETA Tarlac City; take rented jeep to Mayontoc then to jumpoff
0800 Breakfast at Brgy. Labney’s plaza
0900 Start trek
1200 ETA Mt. Kinaulaman (795 MASL). Lunch.
1300 Resume trek
1800 Arrival at Zambales River; set up camp
1900 Dinner / socials
0400 Breakfast / Break camp
0530 Climb up bald, steep hill and pass by pine forests
1200 Lunch at mossy forest
1300 Resume trek
1700 ETA e-camp at mossy forest; dinner
1800 Commence night trek to Mt. Tapulao summit
2130 ETA summit of Mt. Tapulao / set up camp in campsite
0900 Wake up call
1000 Brunch / Break camp
1100 Start descent
1700 ETA Brgy. Dampay-Salaza
1900 From highway, take return bus to Manila
2300 Back in Manila
The above itinerary may be spaced into four days – which basically stretches Day 2 into two relaxing days.
No permit is necessary to climb Mt. Tapulao from the Tarlac side, given the exploratory nature of the trail. However, it is custom to pay a courtesy call with the barangay officials before proceeding with the trek.
In Brgy. Labney, look for Arthur Francisco or Lito Nicolas who can guide you. Prepare P1500-2000/guide for the entire trek (P500/day seems reasonable enough).
Tarlac Mountaineering Club is happy to assist mountaineers who wish to seek help in logistics for this climb. For inquiries and comments, you may contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first traverse was done in 2005. In Holy Week 2006, the second climb, on which this itinerary is based was held. The team was composed of Freddie Aganon, Rose-lyn Pasamonte, Nathaniel De Jesus, Enrico Pajarillo, Christopher Clemente, Marco Dalida and Dax Simbol, all TMC members. They were joined by Manila-based outdoor club, SCOUT (Serving the Community through Outdoors) president, Hensel Quilling and the local guides Arthur Francisco and Lito Nicolas.
MAYANTOC, TARLAC WEATHER OUTLOOK