Kibungan Circuit: Mt. Tagpaya, Mt. Oten, Mt. Tagpew (1820+/1875+/2105+)


KIBUNGAN CIRCUIT
Kibungan, Benguet
Jumpoff (closed loop): Sitio Tanap, Poblacion, Kibungan
LLA: 1820 MASL (Tagpaya); 1875 MASL (Oten); 2105 (Tagpew)
Days required / Hours to summit: 2-3 days / 6-9 hours (Tagpaya)
Specs (Version 1): Major climb, Difficulty 5/9, Trail class 1-4
Specs (Version 2): Major climb, Difficulty 6/9, Trail class 1-4
Features: Pine ridges, mossy forests, rice terraces, village walks

BACKGROUND

Nestled at the heart of the Cordilleras, the town of Kibungan in Benguet offers pristine and scenic trails that pass through highland Kankaney villages, rice terraces, pine ridges, and occasional mossy forests. The mountainous terrain and rolling slopes of Kibungan has caused some visitors to call it the “Switzerland of the Philippines” – an appellation that, although awkward, conveys the sense of grandeur that is truly palpable within the environs of this beautiful highland town.
There are several long-distance trekking possibilities, making use of existing footpaths, including those leading to Ilocos Sur and La Union to the west, and to the town of Bakun up north. However, the more popular and accessible routes are known as the Kibungan Circuit, which begins at Sitio Tanap in the town poblacion and goes up Mt. Tagpaya (1820 MASL). From there, one can return to Tanap using a different trail that passes by Lungsad Falls. This is known as the Version 1 route, and is usually done as an overnight climb.
On the other hand, the Version 2 route continues from Mt. Tagpaya towards two more peaks: Mt. Oten (1875 MASL) and Mt. Tagpew (2105 MASL; pronounced as tag-pow). Version 2 usually takes 3 days, but can be done in two days.
Either way, the trail is very pleasant and rewarding. On clear days, there are nice views of the Bakun mountains, including Mt. Tenglawan (N), the Halsema Highway up to Baguio, with Mt. Ugo behind (ESE) and Mt. Sto Tomas at its tailend (SE). La Union and Ilocos Sur, and behind them, the West Philippine Sea, complete the panorama. And yet, even without these distant sights, the proximal views are tantalizing in themselves. The pine ridges, reminiscent of those in Mt. Sicapoo, and the slopes laden with unique white rocks, which in turn calls to mind Bakun, make trekking in Kibungan a unique experience. Add to these sights the seclusion and tranquility, the endless trekking possibilities, the fascinating culture that remains alive, and you have a truly wonderful and highly recommended trek in the Cordilleras!
VERSION 1 ITINERARY
Loop: Tanap-Mt. Tagpaya-Lungsad Falls-Tanap
 
Day 0
1000 Take bus from Manila to Baguio City
Day 1 Tanap to Mt. Tagpaya
0400 Arrival in Baguio. Proceed via rented jeepney to Kibungan.
0800 ETA Kibungan poblacion (1230 MASL). Registration and breakfast
0845 Depart for the jump-off
0930 ETA Tanap road side (900 MASL). Start trek.
1000 Cross Tanap river
1030 ETA Abas community (820 MASL)
1230 Arrival at Palpalay-yen pine forest (1100 MASL). Lunch.
1320 Proceed to Mt. Tagpaya
1500 ETA Buga (1400 MASL)
1700 ETA summit of Mt. Tagpaya (1843 MASL)
Day 2 Mt. Tagpaya to Tanap via Lungsad Falls
0500 Wake up call; sunrise viewing at Tabaw Peak
0700 Breakfast / break camp
0800 Start trek
1200 ETA Oybukan Rocks / Lunch
1400 Arrival at Lungsad Falls
1600 Sidetrip to Abas Hot Springs
1700 Back at Tanap. End of trek.
1800 Back at Poblacion; tidy up
2200 Back in Baguio City
2300 Take bus back to Manila
VERSION 2 ITINERARY
Loop: Tanap-Mt. Tagpaya-Mt. Oten-Mt. Tagpew-Tanap
Note: This itinerary can be shortened to two days, with Mt. Oten as the campsite at the evening of Day 1. This is actually what I did on December 10-11, 2011, but a more relaxing three-day climb is recommended.
Day 0
1000 Take bus from Manila to Baguio City
Day 1 Tanap to Mt. Tagpaya
0400 Arrival in Baguio. Proceed via rented jeepney to Kibungan.
0800 ETA Kibungan poblacion (1230 MASL). Registration and breakfast
0845 Depart for the jump-off
0930 ETA Tanap road side (900 MASL). Start trek.
1000 Cross Tanap river
1030 ETA Abas community (820 MASL)
1230 Arrival at Palpalay-yen pine forest (1100 MASL). Lunch.
1320 Proceed to Mt. Tagpaya
1500 ETA Buga (1400 MASL)
1700 ETA summit of Mt. Tagpaya (1843 MASL)
Day 2 Mt. Tagpaya to Mt. Oten to Mt. Tagpew
0500 Wake up call; sunrise viewing at Tabaw Peak
0700 Breakfast / break camp
0800 Start trek to Mt. Oten
1030 ETA Tangongtongaw; Oldest Pine Tree
1200 Lunch at Mt. Oten
1300 Resume trek to Mt. Tagpew
1430 Arrival at Geday Rest Stop
1600 View of Mt. Gidaywen
1700 Arrival at Mt. Tagpew campsite
Day 3 Mt. Tagpew to Tanap
0500 Wake up call; sunrise viewing at Mt. Tagpew summit
0700 Breakfast / break camp
0800 Start descent
1000 ETA Legleg village
1030 Burial cave sidetrip
1200 Lunch at Bato view deck (1330 MASL).
1400 ETA Mayos river. Washup.
1500 Head back to Sitio Tanap
1600 Back at Sitio Tanap. End of Trek
*Note: if arriving early on Day 3, it is possible to visit the Hot Springs from Tanap
1700 Back at Poblacion. Tidy up.
2100 Back in Baguio City
2300 Take bus back to Manila
SPECIAL CONCERNS
Logistics. To secure guides and to make sure that the town is expecting you, contact the tourism officer of Kibungan, Engr. Kolbel, at +639059206276. He can arrange your trek and give advice regarding itinerary and costs. There is a green fee of P30. The guide fees are P500/guide/day, and porterage fees are similar.
Engr. Kolbel can provide important updates on the status of the roads to Kibungan, which can be closed due to landslides and can be hazardous. Let me emphasize that double-checking the road conditions is imperative when doing a Kibungan trek, especially during non-summer months.
Transportation. Transport is in two legs, the Manila-Baguio and Baguio-Kibungan. From Manila to Baguio, take the Victory Liner bus which has terminals in Pasay, Sampaloc, and Cubao (P455, one-way) and has trips hourly which takes about six hours in the evening. From Baguio to Kibungan, our preferred contact is Sammy, who lives in Kibungan itself but works in Baguio. He can be reached at +639193471681. As of December 2011, roundtrip transportation is P7,000.
Hiking notes. There are some matek (limatik; blood leeches) along the way but they’re not as aggressive as those in Mindoro or the Southern Tagalog region (i.e. Halcon, Makiling).
KIBUNGAN CIRCUIT PICTURES
The blogger at the Tanap jumpoff with Leo Oracion, the first Filipino to climb Mt. Everest. At the background are the peaks of Kibungan.
 
The trails of the Kibungan Circuit wind across the slopes, taking hikers across pine ridges amid breathtaking scenes of the Cordilleras.
Some of the mountains visible from the Kibungan Circuit are Mt. Ugo, Mt. Sto. Tomas, and the mountains of Bakun.
Walking across rice terraces is part of the trek across the Kibungan Circuit.
 
At the summit of Mt. Tagpew, 2105 MASL, the highest point in the Version 2 of the Kibungan Circuit.
Pine forests, akin to those of Mt. Ugo and Mt. Pulag’s Akiki Trail, are also part of the trail up Mt. Tagpaya.
TRIVIA
Contrary to how it would be defined had it been a Cebuano word, Mt. Oten actually draws its name from the wild berry shrubs called oten which grow in the mountain named after it.
Kibungan is a long-time favorite of many hikers, and there are many more trails other than the Kibungan Circuit trails. PinoyMountaineer looks forward to document more of these trails in the future, and information on them is most welcome.
The blogger did the Kibungan Circuit version 2 with Leo Oracion, the first Filipino to climb Everest, on a trip organized by my hiking companion Sir Martin Cortez on December 10-11, 2011. We climbed on the occasion of the total lunar eclipse but failed to see it due to cloud cover!
This article was written in Kibungan immediately after the blogger’s climb there, on December 11, 2011!

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13 Comments on "Kibungan Circuit: Mt. Tagpaya, Mt. Oten, Mt. Tagpew (1820+/1875+/2105+)"


Guest
SHOES
3 years 8 months ago

Thnx.PM sa IT…we did kibungan circuit V2.feb.24-25'14..at dahil ayaw mag leave sa work,we did it in 2 days..pero xmpre naksalalay padin sa gUide at facing…
Have a safe climb…….jah bless..

CARBMOUANTAINEER….

Guest
Anonymous
3 years 9 months ago

hi guys, anyone here na may contact details sa guide sa kibungan that could take us all the way to Sugpon Ilocos Sur….please text me on this number 09233343053

Guest
4 years 7 months ago

Hi sir Gidz,

Share ko lang po para sa mga gusto mag try ng kibungan circuit na small group.Thanks

http://adayinthehike.blogspot.com/2013/03/far-and-away.html

Guest
Anonymous
4 years 2 months ago

Hi sir helmet! May contact po ba kayo ni Sir Charo? Planning to go to Kibungan this December with our group.. Nacheck ko rin po yung blog site nyo and dun din po ako nagbase sa IT nyo po..yun din pinakita ko sa mga kagroup ko po kasi, kaso wala po nakalagay na number no sir charo baka po pwede nyo po kme matulungan.. God Bless Salamat po! -CJ

Guest
5 years 10 days ago

Hi,

Anybody planning to do the kibungan circuit this nov.30, dec 1-2? Baka pwede po akong sumabit. Or if may interested to climb on the same date baka pwede tyong magorganize the climb on the same date. Please get in touch with me at ryemarifosque@gmail.com.

Thanks,

Rye

Guest
Anonymous
5 years 5 months ago

to anonymous and joey…

Would you guys happen to know kung what time ang byahe ng bus from Kibungan to baguio ung first at last trip?…Thanks guys…

Grasyosa