Initial entry point: KM. 55 Halsema Highway (Timbac)
Final exit point: Visitors’ Center, Ambangeg (Pulag)
LLA: 2717 MASL (Timbak); 2842 MASL (Tabayoc); 2922 (Pulag)
Days required: 4-5 days
Specs: Multi-mountain climb, Difficulty 6/9, Trail class 1-4
Features: Highland villages (Tim), Mossy Forests (Tab, Pul), Highest peaks in Luzon
This is a special itinerary. Please also see the main articles for the mountains discussed here:
The combination of a Tabayoc dayhike and a Pulag via Tawangan has already been established for at least a decade. But with the emergence of Mt. Timbak as a hiking destination in 2007-2008, it is now possible to do the three highest peaks of Luzon in one trip, taking advantage of road connections from Halsema Highway to Kabayan, Benguet. Moreover, aside from completing the Luzon 3-2-1, this itinerary also makes use of one of the more challenging trails of Mt. Pulag – the Tawangan Trail with its beautiful mossy forests.
The success of this multi-mountain climb would require a rented jeepney or a similar vehicle, although commuting is also possible, and so a Timbak Traverse (as propounded by Adonis Lloren) that takes the hiker down to Kabayan. But this article will discuss what has emerged as the “standard 4/5 day itinerary” for the Luzon 3-2-1.
Day 1 features a drive through the Halsema Highway – the most scenic highway in the Philippines, taking 55 kilometers to reach the “Highest Point in the Philippine Highway System”, from which the small peak of Timbak is emergent, in front. The jeepney makes a right turn up to the Timbak Elementary School, from which the summit of Mt. Timbak is just half an hour away. Another attraction of Mt. Timbac are the mummies that are located in a nearby cave, but this is not always open to the public.
After Timbac, the jeepney exits the Halsema Highway via the Buguias Road en route to Kabayan. The roadtrip ends in Brgy. Ballay which is at the foot of Mt. Tabayoc, and also the starting off point for Tawangan Trail of Pulag.
Day 2 features the backtrail dayhike of Mt. Tabayoc – this is essentially a walk through a beautiful mossy forest, which is at times overgrown, and very charming. One has to climb up some trees to appreciate the view at the summit, and on a clear day, there are views of the lakes. Most hikers start the Tabayoc hike early so there would be time, in the afternoon, to enjoy the Lakes at the Far Side of Mt. Pulag (i.e. Lake Tabeyo, Lake Ambulalakaw). These can be done along the way to Sitio Tawangan, which is the precise jumpoff of the Mt. Pulag via Tawangan Trail climb.
Day 3-4 is the climb of Mt. Pulag via Tawangan-Ambangeg (or, if so desired, Tawangan-Akiki). From its standard 3-day itinerary, it is now only two days because the travel time is no longer factored in. At the end of Day 4, the usual custom is for the rented jeepney that brought you to Timbak and Ballay to wait for the hikers at the Ranger Station at the Ambangeg Trail. From there, it is an easy way back to Baguio, and then Manila.
2300 Take bus from Manila to Baguio
0500 ETA Baguio. Breakfast
0600 Head to Mt. Timbak
0830 ETA Highest Point of Phil. Highway System
0900 Arrival at Timbak Elementary School
0910 Start trek
1000 Mt. Timbak Summit.
1030 Start descent
1100 Back at Elementary School
1500 Arrival at Brgy. Ballay, Kabayan, Benguet
1600 Set up camp near Lake Tabeyo
1800 Dinner / socials
0600 Start trekking up Mt. Tabayoc
0900 ETA summit of Mt. Tabayoc
0930 Start descent
1130 Back at jumpoff. Lunch / Break camp
1300 Proceed to Sitio Tawangan
1400 Viewing of lakes along the way
1600 Arrival at Sitio Tawangan. Secure guides.
1800 Dinner / socials
0500 Start trekking up Pulag via Tawangan
0900 Arrival at Ta-aw River. Enter the mossy forest
1400 Exit Mossy Forest; start of grassland
1700 Arrival at Mt. Pulag Saddle Campsite
1730 Mt. Pulag Summit for the Sunset viewing
1900 Dinner / socials
0430 Wake-up call
0500 Assault summit
0530 Mt. Pulag Summit / Sunrise viewing…
0700 Back to campsite / Breakfast / Break camp
0900 Start Descent
1100 ETA Ranger Station
1200 ETA Ambangeg, DENR (Log-out)
1230 ETD Ambangeg / Lunch along the way
1700 Back in Baguio City
Please review the separate articles for the three mountains for special concerns. Coordination with the DENR-PASU (Ms. Emerita Albas) of Mt. Pulag National Park (Mt. Tabayoc is also within the jurisdiction) to arrange for guides. The two major contact numbers are still as follows:
(1) DENR-PASU, Emerita Albas: 639196315402
(2) Jeepney Drivers, Gina: +63.919.816.9234
The cost of the jeepney could reach 13,000 for the entire trip.
LUZON 3-2-1 PICTURES
It is also possible to extend the Luzon 3-2-1 with a Luzon 5-4-3-2-1, which starts off at Barlig (Mt. Amuyao), then heading to Sabangan, Mt. Province (Mt. Kalawitan) via Bontoc, then heading down Halsema to reach the jumpoff of Mt. Timbak.