The Cordillera Mountain Range, also known as Cordillera Central, is a massive mountain range situated in the northern central part of Luzon(Philippines). It encompasses all provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) namely Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province.
Many outdoor enthusiasts, especially mountaineers, love hiking in this region and I am probably one of those avid hikers, and here’s why:
1. Cold weather. Hiking under the scorching heat of the sun can be quite challenging and taxing especially during summer. But, summer or dry season is probably the best time to go outdoor and hike under the clear, sunny skies. In Cordillera, cold breeze up above the mountains could make you feel less exhausted which is helpful in lessen your water consumption during the ebtire trek. The weather is also favorable to capture the beautiful landscape ahead. Of course, you’ll still be needing sun protection, in my case though I didn’t feel my sunburnt skin at all.
2. Sea of clouds. If you are one of those hikers who love this kind of phenomenon and feel giddy whenever you’re high up above this grand display of clouds, I bet you will definitely love it in Cordillera. However, like in any other mountain, it is not 100% guaranteed that you will be able to witness it – timing is still an important factor and of course, the weather.
3. Community. The mountain range of Cordillera does not only boast of its spectacular views, it is also a home to many ethnic tribes like Bontocs, Ibaloi, Ifugaos, Ikalahans, etc. It is also worthwhile socializing with these communities – with the children, learning about their livelihood, learning about some of their dialects, their custom and traditions, oh! and their food. You can learn a lot as you get along with them.
4. Pine trees and scenery. You know you’ll already in Cordillera when you these trees along the way. These trees are also home to various fauna which are endemic and nearly-endemic to this region.
“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world” – John Miller
5. Rice terraces. Some 20 something years ago, I have seen this majestic creation of our (Philippine) ancestor through postcards and photos only. The photos could give justice to its beauty, but seeing it up close and personal is at a different level. You’ve got to see it for yourself.
6. Difficulty. Call me a masochist, but I really love the challenging trails of mountains like Mt. Pulag (Akiki trail), as well as doing traverses like the Kibungan Cross Provinces and Purgatory-Mangisi Traverse. You always have no choice but to continue moving forward despite the difficulties, with or without sea of clouds or grandiose views, the ability to conquer your own fear and weaknesses through all those long walks, steep slopes, rocky terrain gives an unexplainable sense of fulfillment to everyone who face this one of a kind adventure.
7. More nature, less photobombers. If you’re like me who prefers hiking in a small group (the most that I can tolerate is 30 pax), then I guess this region would be a good choice. Due to its geographic location which is pretty far from the metro, the number of hikers in this region are less than the mountains nearby Manila during weekends. As for someone like me who prefer taking photos of the landscape, the tiny details (flora and fauna), and not taking selfies right here and there (not much a fan of that buwis-buhay poses now) – it is definitely a plus. I am a sociable person but, one of the reason I climb mountain is to get away from the crowded Metro and commune more with nature.
8. Mossy forest. There are lots of mossy forest in Cordillera. With some having presence of limatiks (blood leeches) like the Tawangan trail of Mt. Pulag. With the mossy forest, the mountain feel and look so alive specially when the rays of the sun were seeping through the woods, and the droplets in the moss reflects it like a stars on the trail.
9. Night Sky. The prettiest and literally star-studded night sky that I have seen so far was that of Mt. Tangbaw campsite last April 10, 2016. We can see the band of Milky Way galaxy right before our naked eyes, no need to use apps to find the galactic core. The light pollution in the campsites of cordillera mountains are very low, and for an astrophile like me: it is the best thing the absence of light could offer.
10. Coffee. For the love of coffee! The Cordillera Administrative Region have something to be proud of aside from pine trees, Sagada oranges, and strawberries. And that’s their variation of ground coffee beans. Worry not as you don’t have to hike all the way up to the mountain to have some (though having brewed coffee in the campsite is really rewarding), you can buy it at Baguio City Public Market. If you’re a strong coffee drinker, I highly recommend Sagada Dark Roast.
And there you have it! My ten (10) reasons why you should try hiking in Cordillera.
Have you been or have plans visiting this wonderful region too? Try hiking and share your experience.