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The Bakun Trilogy: A Teaser of Three Extraordinary Mountain Adventures

Bakun Trilogy

One of the most recent climbing trends in the outdoor community is undergoing day treks. As the name implies, day treks are treks (hikes or climbs) that can be completed in a single day without the need to camp in the wilderness. These adventures also imply that day treks are short and easy.Β  Well, that is definitely not the case! We discovered that a day trek can be as difficult as a major climb during one of our grandest adventures of 2018—the mighty Bakun Trilogy in Bakun, Benguet in Luzon, Philippines.

The Bakun Trilogy has been on our bucket list for quite some time. It involves climbing three huge mountains at the border of the provinces of Ilocos Sur and Benguet in Luzon. What makes this extremely challenging is that each mountain should be climbed in a single day for three consecutive days. It’s essentially a test of human endurance and willpower. After completing a couple of segments of the Cebu Highlands Trail and several practice climbs, Halourd, Sweetie, and I believed we were ready for the Bakun Trilogy.

All set! We took a pre-dawn flight from Cebu to Clark International Airport in Pampanga. The soft but rapidly rising sun definitely matched our mood for this adventure—excited! We took an air-conditioned jeepney to Dau Terminal where we ate breakfast and boarded a bus to Baguio. If you recall, this is the same Baguio-bound route we took when we had our Cordillera Food Trip and Mt. Kupapey/Fato climb.

Clark International Airport

Five hours later, we arrived at one of our favorite cities in the country, Baguio—the summer capital of the Philippines. It is a beautiful city of fresh air, pine forests, and American Colonial houses. If we had our way, we would definitely live here.

Arrival in Baguio

Of course, part of any adventure is sampling out local varieties of dishes. Feeling ravenously hungry after that long bus ride, we feasted on a filling lunch, which includes this hot bulalo soup. Bulalo is a beef-based soup filled with beef shanks, bone marrow, and cartilage. It is simmered until the fat and collagen melt into the broth.

Never mind the cholesterol…this soup is heavenly delicious in the cool Baguio clime.

Bulalo

In our excitement, we barely had enough sleep the night before. However, we have a full free day in Baguio before proceeding to Bakun. Thus, after checking in at our booked homestay, we spent most of the afternoon sleeping. Check out our small but cozy room! For us, this is a 5-star hotel.

In addition, our homestay—just like many accommodations in Baguio, doesn’t have an air-conditioner. Well, there’s no need for one thanks to Baguio’s chilly subtropical highland climate.

After waking up at dusk, we went to a local supermarket to buy some supplies, had dinner, and visited the city’s night market.

Cozy room

At 4 AM the next day, we checked out and headed to the gas station that also serves as the Bakun bus terminal. Bakun is so remote that there’s only one bus that plies the route between the municipality and Baguio City each day. There are no commercial bus lines plying the route. In fact, the “regular” bus to Bakun is an old one that, we believe, is funded through a multi-purpose cooperative.

Thus, if you plan to do this adventure using public transportation, it is imperative to schedule your trip properly and stick to it. There is only one bus and one trip every day in the morning.

The only bus to Bakun

At 6:00 AM, the bus rumbled to life. It took us almost an hour to exit Baguio since the bus picked up cargo and passengers along the way. But soon, we were traveling through Halsema Highway, considered to be one of the most dangerous highways in the Philippines. That’s because it’s prone to sudden landslides, especially during the rainy season.

But it can’t be denied that the views all throughout Halsema Highway are nothing short of spectacular. We never get tired of looking at the massive terraces, lofty mountains, and lush pine forests, and the seemingly endless valleys along the highway. The ride along this stretch is indeed an adventure in itself.

Farms and Terraces in the Halsema Highway

We had a mid-morning stop somewhere along the Halsema Highway. We took an early yet healthy lunch of organic rice, fresh vegetables, and wild poultry. The food’s freshness left a pleasant aftertaste in our mouth. If we lived here, we would probably get fat because we’ll be eating this sumptuous food nonstop. Hahaha!

Fresh meal

Soon, the bus exited the Halsema Highway and started to penetrate deep into the Cordilleras. As hours slowly ticked by, we saw fewer signs of civilizations. Villages became smaller and more rustic. We found fewer people roaming around. Pine forests and huge mountains gradually took over farms and communities.

Soon, the road cutting through the vast swaths of forests and mountains became the only reassuring link to civilization. If we get stranded here…

On the way to Bakun

Close to 1 PM and hundreds of kilometers away from modern civilization, we finally reached our destination—the poblacion of Bakun, which rests near the border of Benguet and Ilocos Sur. The small, quiet village rests on top of a large, sloping plateau.

Our first impression of the Bakun Poblacion was—is this a ghost town? Indeed, except for our contact Ms. Nenita, there were virtually no souls around! Homes and stores were locked. No village music, no drone of machinery—nothing! The only sound was a hollow whisper of a continuous mountain breeze. We never felt so—alone—here.

Surrounding the Bakun Poblacion like a protective fence are three enormous mountain ranges. We stood in absolute awe at the three peaks that awaited us.

Bakun Poblacion

Now you might think that day hikes are easy. Not when you day hike three 2,000-meter mountains in three days—one mountain for each day. Suddenly, it became a challenge of the fittest!

Right after we arrived and checked in at the multi-coop’s homestay, we immediately climbed Mt. Patullok (commonly named Mt. Lubo), the nearest and tallest of the Bakun Trilogy. It took us 6 hours to reach the summit and back to the village.

Mt. Patullok

The next day, we agonized over an 8-hour trek to the top of Mt. Tenglawan and another 7-hour back to Bakun Poblacion. This was the longest wilderness day-trek we’ve done so far—an adventure that lasted for 15 long and exhausting hours.

Mt. Tenglawan Monolith

By the third day, we were ready to call it quits due to cramps and exhaustion. Nevertheless, we pushed ourselves to successfully reach the summit of Mt. Kabunian despite the likelihood of injury after pushing our bodies to the limits. This is the steepest and most treacherous mountain of the Bakun Trilogy.

Mt. Kabunian

Come with us! Experience our excitement, exhaustion, pain, relief, and triumph as we undertake one of the grandest and most exhausting adventures we’ve ever done!

Since this adventure covers three mountains, we will write each climb in detail in separate posts. For your convenience, we will hyperlink our climbs from this page.

Itinerary*

Day 1
4:30 AM – Depart Cebu, flight to Clark International Airport, Pampanga
6:00 AM – Arrival at Clark, ride a jeepney to Dao Terminal, breakfast
7:30 AM – Ride Victory bus to Baguio
12:30 PM – Arrival at Baguio, lunch, check in, free time

Day 2
4:00 AM – wake up, prepare, taxi ride to La Trinidad Petron Gas Station/Bakun Terminal, breakfast
6:00 AM – bus ride from Baguio to Bakun
10:00 AM – early lunch at Halsema Highway stopover
1:00 PM – arrival at Bakun, meet barangay official, register, secure guide, check in
2:00 PM – ready for Mt. Patullok climb

Budget**

  • P 100 per person – Jeepney fare from Clark International Airport to Dau Terminal
  • P 306 per person – Bus fare from Dau Terminal to Baguio
  • P 338 per person per night – AirBnB accommodation in Baguio
  • P 50 – Cab fare from AirBnB accommodation to La Trinidad Petron Station/Bakun Bus terminal
  • P 185 per person – Bus fare from Baguio to Bakun Poblacion (rate applies on the return trip)
  • P 50 – cab fare from La Trinidad to Joy Bus Terminal
  • P 730 per person – Bus fare from Baguio to NAIA
  • P 150 per person per night – lodging at Bakun Multi-coop/baranggay house (includes beddings, kitchen,

* Specific itineraries will be covered in subsequent blog posts which detail each adventure.
** Rates are subject to change without further notice. We did not include expenses for food, souvenirs, etc.
** These are general rates for the trip, consisting mostly of transport fares. Specific adventure-related fees will be covered in subsequent blogs which detail each adventure. Certain applicable fares shown above will be reiterated in such blogs.

Tips

1. For contact details, check the info below. You need to get in touch with any of these contacts at least a week before your scheduled climb.

  • Mr. Arthur Tolito (Bakun Municipal Tourism Officer) – 0921-211-3687 or 0905-317-2616
  • Ms. Nenita Budas (BTC President) – 0918-352-372
  • Mr. Peter Diclas (Bakun Trio Tour Guides and Porters Association President) – 0929-621-0448 or 0906-284-7896

2. There is a single bus that travels from Baguio to Bakun and vice versa once a day. In each point of origin, the bus leaves at 6:30 AM. The parking area/terminal for this bus is at the Petron Gas Station in La Trinidad. Drop-off is at Bakun Poblacion.

Important Note: There is one week in the day where there’s no bus trip at all. That particular day often changes. We strongly advise you to get in touch with the contacts in Bakun (Item 1) for clarity.

According to our research, there is another bus that goes to Bakun. It’s parked in Kenwayen Commercial Center, La Trinidad. This bus heads to the barangay of Sinacbat, the drop-off point for those who want to climb Mt. Tenglawan only.

3. Individually, the three mountains can be each completed in a day. Thus, there’s no need to bring camping equipment. You can make the Bakun Poblacion your base camp.

4. However, each mountain is physically demanding. Be prepared for an arduous and exhausting climb for each of the three days. We recommend you do a couple of practice climbs and necessary exercises a month before your Bakun Trilogy adventure.

5. If you’re coming from any place where you need several hours to travel to Baguio, we recommend you stay in Baguio for a full day before your Bakun Trilogy so you can re-energize. Climbing a mountain after 10 hours of road travel is extremely exhausting.

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About Adrenaline Romance

Rock climbers. Mountaineers. Sweethearts on adventure. Adrenaline Romance is a photoblog that belongs to a loving couple who has an eternal lust for adventure. The blog contains experiences, tips, itineraries, and other useful information regarding adventuring in the Philippines and beyond.

19 comments on “The Bakun Trilogy: A Teaser of Three Extraordinary Mountain Adventures

  1. Wow. That seems like an amazing trip indeed. Loved the huge mountains against the road picture. Just stunning!

  2. The Philippines look amazing! You are definitely much more fit than I am. I totally don’t think i could do that. But your pictures look amazing.

    • Thanks Empty Nest,

      The Bakun Trilogy really did test us. It was a fun and exciting adventure, but it was also a difficult and challenging one. Stay tuned—we’re going to detail each of our THREE climbs. πŸ™‚

  3. Wow…quite the challenging adventure! I too have experienced thinking a day trek would be easy, only to find it very difficult…but not as strenuous as your 15 hour ordeal! Glad you were able to push through and say you finished (and enjoyed it!).

  4. I’m no trekker, but I loved reading about your Bakun Trilogy adventure just as much as I enjoyed your Cebu highlands trek. I would have loved to know more about your actual climb.

  5. Heh, I have been looking on the pics of mountains as much as onto pics of food. It there something wrong with me?

  6. Bakun! Never heard of it before. But now I can easily tell people about it. You explained the itinerary in detail but trust me, I don’t think I can hike each mountain every day. It would be so exhausting even though these are day hikes. However the topography is so photogenic.

  7. This post is a well written and detailed account of these treks, Thanks for sharing. I don’t know about 3 in 3 days, but I would definitely be up for at least one! πŸ˜€

  8. I can’t say I’ve ever heard of any of these places before – but I love the sound of these day treks, and your pics are fab. Not sure on the Bulalo soup though – it looks a little weird lol! x

  9. Sounds challenging and exciting at the same time! Bakun Trilogy trek is something I probably wouldn’t attempt myself – considering that the first day you had to climb 8 hours up and 7 hours down! And then 2 more days of mountain climbing after that, wow! You do need all the calories that you can get before that adventure πŸ˜‰

    • Hi Medha,

      That was the second day, actually. First day was 6 hours and the 3rd day was 10 hours. The entire adventure was excruciating but very rewarding!

      Oh yes, we had to prepare for this climb through carbo-loading, practice climbs, exercises, hydration, etc.

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