Friday, May 17, 2013

Climb Guide: Mt. Tabayoc

After our Mt. Timbac Traverse climb that ended in Kabayan Barrio, we rode a bus bound to Ballay for another climb. We planned to summit all the three highest peaks of Luzon and in this article I will be discussing about Mt. Tabayoc, the 2nd highest mountain in Luzon and the 6th highest peak in the Philippines.

The Mountain

Location: Benguet and Ifugao
Major jump-off: Major jump-off: Brgy. Ballay, Kabayan, Benguet
LLA: 16.7000° N; 120.88333° E
Elevation: 2842 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 2-3 days /4-6 hours
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 6/9, Trail class 2-4

I personally like this mountain. In fact, this is my most favorite climb during our Luzon 321. It is the thickest and lushest rainforest I have entered to date. The tree canopy is hiding the sky,  trunks are covered with mosses, bonsai trees are embracing each other, the view is like that of the Avatar movie, very stunning.

The trek to the summit is accentuated by mossy forests which is akin to that of Tawangan trail in Mt. Pulag, but Tabayoc is better. Trails are not as wide as that of Tawangan and the moss is thicker and greener. It is a well-preserved mountain with lushy virgin forests. Rare species of plants and animals, beautiful orchids, vines and ferns, mosses, and other environmental creatures abound in the mountain of Tabayoc. The pristine characteristic of the mountain is definitely one of its best features.

moss everywhere
The summit of Tabayoc is forested and thus a viewdeck was created to give climbers the amazing views of the earth below and towering mountains that surrounds the place. We we climbed Mt. Tabayoc on April 28, 2013 our guide (Josiah Ballagan) said that we were the first group to set foot on the newly built view deck which is in the summit itself. The viewdeck before was built several meters away from the summit.

How to Get to Mt. Tabayoc

Private Transportation

  1. Head northeast and then turn right onto Kisad Road.
  2. Continue driving until you reach Shuntug Road then turn left onto Quirino Highway
  3. Continue until you reach Naguilian Road
  4. Turn right onto Bokawkan Road then continue driving until you reach Magsaysay Avenue
  5. Slightly turn left when you reach Baguio-La Trinidad-Bontoc Road
  6. Continue onto Halsema Highway then exit via the Buguias Road en route to Kabayan.
  7. The roadtrip ends in Brgy. Ballay which is situated at the foot of Mt. Tabayoc.

Public Transportation

  1. Go to Dangwa Terminal (located at city proper) or at the Slaughterhouse bus terminal along Magsaysay Avenue. Dangwa Terminal is more accessible.
  2. Take the bus bound to Kabayan and alight the bus when you reach Ballay. Ballay is the last stop of Kabayan buses. It is the jump off for Tabayoc and the four lakes.  You can start the trek from there. Buses bound to Kabayan leave Baguio City at 10 AM; last trip leaves at 12NN. It is a 5-6 hour trip. If buses bound to Kabayan are not available, take those buses en route to Baguio-Bontoc via Halsema Highway and get off at Abatan, Buguias, Benguet. There are jeepneys bound to Ballay from Abatan but only during Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; 7AM to 12NN only.
  3. From Ballay, you can start your trek down to Lake Tabeo which is the campsite and the jump-off for Tabayoc. On our case we hitch hiked a veggie truck until we reach Tabeo Lake.

  • If you plan to climb Mt. Timbac first before Mt. Tabayoc, you may wait for the bus that passes by Kabayan Barrio (exit of Mt. Timbac Traverse) to Ballay.
  • If you are coming from Banaue, you can take take the jeepney bound to Tinoc and from there you can trek to Ballay.
  • If you plan to head back to Baguio after climbing Tabayoc, remember that the first trip from Ballay to Baguio is at 7AM and the second and LAST trip is at 10AM.

Projected Expenses

Aircon van Manila-Baguio
Php455 x 2 (way and back)
Taxi fare to Slaughterhouse terminal
Php50 x 2 (way and back)
A-Liner Bus Baguio - Ballay
Php155 x 2 (way and back)
Camping fee
Cultural Free
Environmental Fee
Guide fee Php1,000/7 pax ( Php100 per person in excess of 7)
Php1000 / number of pax

Sample Itinerary

This IT is pegged for Mt. Tabayoc climb only with side trip to four lakes. Necessary adjustment is needed if you plan to do Luzon 321 or Timbac-Tabayoc climb.

Day 1
0100 ETD Manila to Baguio via Victory Liner Bus
0700 ETA Baguio City (breakfast, buy provisions)
0800 ETD Slaughterhouse to Kabayan
1400 ETA Brgy. Ballay, Kabayan
1500 Start trek to Lake Tabeo
1700 ETA Lake Tabeo (set up camp)
1800 Dinner / socials

Day 2
0500 Wake-up call / Breakfast
0600 Start ascend to Mt. Tabayoc
1000 ETA Mt. Tabayoc summit
1100 Start descend
1400 Back at jump-off / Lunch
1500 Explore the three other lakes
1800 Back at campsite
1900 Breakcamp / Head back to Baguio

If you do not have your own service back to Baguio you can stay for another night and catch the 7AM bus bound to Baguio. Again the second and LAST trip is at 10AM.

Climb Tips

  • Bring warmer, gloves, sweater, thermal jacket; anything that can keep you warm.
  • Get a guide that knows the way and can assist you all throughout the climb. The trail of Tabayoc can be very confusing and judging your location relative to the summit can be very challenging because of the thick vegetation so make sure that you are with someone who really knows the way up.
  • It is best to climb Tabayoc early in the morning because rain usually pours in the afternoon. When we went there, it was so sunny when we reached the summit but 30 minutes after we go down, it rained ice!

Interesting Facts

  • Lake Tabeo, the campsite of Mt. Tabayoc
    The mountain of Tabayoc has different names such as Tabayac or Talbayog which in the local tongue means “basin”. The name was taken probably from the four lakes situated in the base of the mountain known as Lake Tabeo, Ambulalakao, Iculus, and Detapnaco. All these lakes can included during your Tabayoc climb for an additional Php100 per person. We camped at Lake Tabeo and visited the lake of Ambulalakao, free of charge. :)
  • Ambulalakao Lake, it is said to be the cleanest lake in Benguet, might as well check that out for yourself.
  • The Junior Pulag is also located within the vicinity of Tabayoc.

Contact Information

Tabayoc is under the jurisdiction of the Mt. Pulag National Park, and so they have the same protocol.  Permit should be secured from the Park Superintendent. You may contact PASU for guides. Making personal and unofficial arrangements with the locals is being discouraged but this is what we did when we went there. We contacted Santiago Ballagan directly because it seems that the only option we had prior to contacting him was to rent a jeepney that cost 15K in order to get to the jump-off of three mountains. That I think is way too much!

Kuya Santiago Ballagan send his son to pick us up from Baguio and through him we were able to reach the jump-off of all three mountains (Timbac, Tabayoc, Pulag) in less than 2K!

Anyway, for your future climb you may contact these people for assistance:

Ermita Albas
0919-631-5402 / 0929-166-8864
Arlan Bugtong
Tabayoc Park Ranger
0946-592-8483 / 0999-389-8711
Santiago Ballagan
Timbac - Tabayoc Guide

Two Cents Worth of Thoughts

  • I hope the thick and beautiful forest of Mt. Tabayoc can be preserved for future generation. I fear that the growing settlement at the jump-off point around the lake will someday become the cause of the mountain’s destruction.
  • I had a little argument with DENR person Ermita Albas when I contacted local guide directly and just informed her about our climb. I told her that the reason we did so was because we cannot afford the jeepney rental. She has a point to get mad as I did not follow protocol but I informed her that there should be cost-efficient alternative in doing Luzon 321 climb. She said DENR can help in arranging transportation. So you guys who plan to do 321, the 15K jeepney rental is way too much. Coordinate with park rangers and DENR/PASU for cheaper options. :)


This climb has been made possible by the help of Mr. Santiago Ballagan and his son Josiah Ballagan. Josiah serves as our guide for Timbak and Tabayoc during our Luzon 3-2-1 climb. They can be reach at number (+63910) 752 - 2655 (Santiago Ballagan) and (+63946) 415 - 2355 (Josiah Ballagan).

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This entry is part of our Luzon 3-2-1 climb which happened last April 26 - 30



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Though I am not a climber, my interest it taking less traveled roads. I have never been to Kabayan. Taking that jeep from Abatan to Ballay going into Kabayan and out via the regular bus sounds interesting. Is Ballay near the poblacion of Kabayan?


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