I am not a pro. Pulag was only my third time to trek. But I have learned a lot, which I am taking note here just in case some first-timers come across this entry.
Like I have shared in my previous entry, Mt. Pulag is intense for the heart and body. It is important to be prepared against the cold weather and the backbreaking trek.
For first timers, we are most likely not prepared with the gear and other implements needed for the trek. I had to do some shopping myself. So, I am sharing here my shopping list divided into categories, along with some notes.
Group tour package
It was only I and my college friend, but we joined a group tour so we also found new friends! There are a lot of group tours offered online. You can do a quick search on Google or on Facebook and compare the deals. One friend told me that he availed a Php2,500 tour package during his time.
Recently, the park management set stricter rules for hikers. Based on our orientation at the DENR regional office, the number of hikers per group has been limited to 20 and the total number of climbers per day is also limited. It is advisable to ensure that reservations at 0929-166-8864 or 0919-995-1316 is made before the scheduled trek. Mt. Pulag National Park also has a Facebook page that serves as a bulletin where they post updates on weather conditions and other announcements to climbers.
I was on a tight budget, so I took the time to scout cheap gears.
Lazada and Daiso became my good friends. The bag I bought from Lazada was not very durable but it stuck out to the end. It was easy to carry, mind you. You are not going to carry the bag during the hike anyway. We left our bags in the tent and brought a smaller bag to carry important belongings and some trek food.
The hiking shoes I got from Fila (always on sale!) were for casual hiking but they lasted gracefully! Now, I use them for jogging.
If you plan to make hiking your regular activity, then you can invest on more expensive, certified trekking gears like Merrell, Adidas, etc.
I also did some shopping for toiletries because I refused to bring big bottles of shampoo, lotion, etc. that would only make my baggage heavy. Mostly, I bought sachets or pocket-size bottles so that they all fit in my kikay kit (small pouch).
Yes, we need armory—against the cold!
I’m going to tell you now, above is the list of only the things I brought. They were enough to endure the chill during the trek (we actually had to remove our jackets along the way; it gets a bit hot as you tire yourself out) and the low temperature at the summit. But definitely they were not enough for me to sleep peacefully in the cold night.
So, be sure to pack what I failed to bring: a fleece blanket, a thermal jacket, and a sleeping bag. An insulator sheet is also very important, but local stores rent them out so just renting will also help lighten your baggage.
Other expenses (mostly food *wink!*)
I tracked my spending along the way, so I’m also sharing it here. Food at the ranger station is not only delicious and reasonable but also healthy. They have a lot of vegetables and use brown rice. My favorite snack was vegetable ukoy, a must-try!
Notice that a medical certificate is included in the list. It’s because it is now required by the park management. A lot of groups usually stop over Dennis Molintas Memorial Hospital to get a medical certificate. It is much cheaper than getting one in the city.
For a worn out amateur climber like me, massage was much needed. So, upon arriving in Manila, I took a taxi straight to a hotel, took a shower, availed a room-service massage and went straight to sleep. Worth it!
For Php8,000 give or take a few bucks, you can avail of a Mt. Pulag tour package and complete your checklist of gears and armory (which you can use again in the future). Not bad for a first time!