Here is your complete DIY travel guide to Mt Kupapey, an ideal spot to include when planning your Bontoc itinerary. It is one of the best places to view the iconic Maligcong Rice Terraces!
I couldn’t think of a better way to enjoy nature at its finest than hiking mountains. It has been my ultimate respite from the bustles and hustles of daily realities.
Whenever I get to conquer a mountain, there’s that powerful sense of realizing the great possibilities that one can create.
It was one early Saturday morning then when I and my friend Jack rode on a motorbike from Bontoc town to Maligcong where Mt Kupapey is located.
I’ve been to the mountain before but did not get the views I was expecting. This time, I was hoping we were in better luck to catch the sunrise and sea of clouds because the weather turned out fine.
By 5:00 AM, we reached Maligcong village. Since I knew the trail and am a local, we did not have to undergo the usual tourism preliminaries such as paying fees or hiring a guide. But if you’re a tourist, please do register with the community. That’s both for your safety and convenience.
So, there we started trekking with swelling eagerness and anticipation of relishing rustic wonders.
- Mt Kupapey Location: Maligcong, Bontoc, Mt. Province
- Height: 1,642 meters above sea level
- Trekking Time: 30 minutes -1 hour
- Special Features: Sunrise, Sea of Clouds, Pine Forests, Maligcong Rice Terraces
How to Get to Mt Kupapey from Manila?
Maligcong, a barangay of Bontoc municipality, is the jump-off point to Mt. Kupapey. Here is how you’ll get there.
Manila to Bontoc. Take a Coda Lines bus from H.M. Bus Station, Cubao, Manila.
The trip schedules are 9:00 pm, 10:00 pm, and 10:30 pm. It takes 10 to 11 hours to reach Bontoc.
Don’t forget to tell the driver to drop you at Bontoc town since the buses are bound to Sagada. Fare is 725 pesos for semi-deluxe and 935 pesos for deluxe.
Baguio to Bontoc. There are two bus companies operating from Baguio to Bontoc.
First is GL Trans. This is stationed at Dangwa Terminal at the back of Center Mall. Regular trips are 7:30 am, 8:30 am, 10:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 2:30 pm.
On the other hand, the Rising Sun buses are stationed at Slaughter Compound, Magsaysay. The departure starts from 4:00 am to 4:00 pm.
All in all, the trip takes 5 to 6 hours along the Halsema Highway. The regular fare for both buses is 212 pesos. For senior citizens, students, and PWDs, the fare is 176 pesos.
Bontoc to Maligcong. The jeepney station is located at the back of the Public Market.
Regular time departures are 8:00 am, 12:00 pm, 2:30 pm, 4:30 pm, and 5:30 pm. The fare is 20 pesos.
On the other hand, trips from Maligcong back to Bontoc town are 6:30 am, 8:00 am, 9:00 am, 2:00 pm, and 4:00 pm.
Bontoc to Manila. Upon reaching Bontoc town, proceed to the Coda Lines station. Wait for any Coda Lines bus there coming from Sagada and bound to Manila via Banaue.
Preliminaries & Fees
Before hiking to Mt Kupapey, tourists should first register and pay an environmental fee of Php 50. Registration is done in the lodging where the tourists are to stay.
A guide is also required for every tourist, whether traveling solo or by group. The fee for a guide is Php 500.00. One guide is required for a maximum of five pax. A Php 100 fee is collected for every additional person.
Our DIY Trek to Mt Kupapey
From the village, we followed the narrow path to Mt Kupapey.
Good thing, I clearly remember the directions we took during our first visit. Since I knew that we’ll reach the mountain peak on time, I urged my friend to walk slowly so we can enjoy the breeze and songs of the forests.
I took the hiking part as an opportunity for me to reflect on things. Nature helps me to be creative and imaginative especially when planning how I could achieve my goals such as how to win the special person in my life (winks).
As we went deeper into the pine forest, I felt more connected to the rustic world. Though I could feel my heart beating fast at some point, it was not so tiring at all.
Nature had its own way of relieving us along the way. The constant chirping of birds and the rustling of trees were natural music to the ear. The chilly breeze, all the more, gave a caressing touch.
From time to time, we would sit on a stone or branch and just immerse ourselves in the natural setting. While my friend tapped on his phone, I just sat in silence, imagining how I can conquer my fears. Nah. That’s too dramatic but yeah, that’s me.
Anyways, it took us almost 40 minutes to reach the summit of Mt Kupapey. For an average trekker, the hike could take an hour. We were a bit too early then, thus, it was still dark.
Good thing, there was a group of hikers who arrived earlier and they were having a bonfire to warm themselves. We joined them and had some casual conversations while waiting for the sunrise.
Behold the Views from Mt Kupapey
About 15 minutes later upon our arrival, we could see the distant rays of the sun slowly peering over the mountains.
We were in sheer excitement and fascination as the emerging sun slowly unraveled a breathtaking view of the mountains and the Maligcong Rice Terraces.
Thankfully, the enveloping fogs disappeared, thus, the sun shone at its brightest from where we stood.
From Mt Kupapey, Maligcong Rice Terraces appeared like stunning layers of gentle cascades as the famous Kaparkan falls in Abra. Mt. Amuyao, the fourth highest mountain in Luzon, can also be seen.
I could not help but just stand in awe and wonder at such creations. The view just totally blew me away and I could feel a total relief from the slight exhaustion I got along the way.
This time, there was a sea of clouds though it was a little bit distant. I was hoping that it would touch the slopes of Mt Kupapey.
But that’s okay. It was still one of the best mountain views I’ve witnessed. It’s all the more reason to keep coming back.
Mt Kupapey to Mt Fato
From Mt Kupapey, you can ask your guide to take you to Mt Fato. There is a trail that connects both mountains. Hiking can take an hour or two. Don’t worry. The trail generally runs on gently sloping terrains. Plus, towering pine trees give you shade.
But if you want to take a break and proceed straight to where you are stating, you can do so. Then, take the trail to Mt Fato the following day if you’re still up for an adventure.
Mt Fato also offers a rewarding view of the rice terraces and often, a breathtaking sea of clouds.
We were supposed to trek to Mt Fato by ourselves but due to time constraints, we had to go back to Bontoc town.
Below is a complete list of accommodations in Maligcong, Bontoc. Rates are as of January 14, 2020. Contact the given numbers for updates/changes.
1. Chen’s Sacya-an Home
- Rates: Php 350 per head for both Double Deck & Single Room
- Amenities: Common Toilet and Bathroom, Hot & Cold Shower, Toiletries
- Other Services: Tour Guiding, Tea & Coffee Making
- Contact: 09562805628, 09207939550
2. Suzette’s Maligcong Homestay
- Rates: Php 350 – Php 400 per person
- Amenities: Toilet and Bathroom, Kitchen
- Other Services: Restaurant, Tour Guiding, Souvenir Shop, Parking Area, Terrace Viewpoint
- Contact: 09155463557
3. Terrace View Homestay
- Rates: Php 350 per person for both Double and Single Room
- Amenities: Common Toilet and Bathroom
- Contact: 09151881732
4. Vilma’s Guest House
- Rates: Php 300 per person
- Amenities: Common Toilet 7 Bathroom, Hot & Cold Shower, Kitchen
- Other Services: Tour Guiding, Parking Area
- Contact: 0905701148
5. Dong-Elay’s Maligcong Homestay
- Rates: Php 350 per person
- Contact: 09120246406
Tips and Reminders
- The best time to hike to Mt Kupapey is during the early morning to chance on the best views.
- Don’t ever litter. Let us help in keeping Mt Kupapey clean and green.
- Avoid picking flowers along the way. They are for your eyes only.
- Respect local customs and traditions by refraining from acts or utterances that may be offensive to the community. Among these include the Public Display of Affection or wearing mini-shorts.
- Refrain from smoking when hiking on the mountain.
- Don’t just hike for the sights. Learn from local stories. Share casual stories with your guide. Create meaningful moments.
- Enjoy. Connect. Find yourself.
Sample Itinerary & Budget
Sample DIY Itinerary and Budget
- 9:00 PM – Arrival in Coda Lines Station, Cubao
- 10:00 PM- Departure of Coda bus
- Fare: Php 720
- 11:00 AM – Arrival in Bontoc
- 1:30 PM – Departure of Jeep to Maligcong
- Fare: Php 40
- 2:00 PM – Arrival in Maligcong
- 2:00 PM-5:00 PM – Rest, Rice Terraces Viewing, etc.
- 4:00 AM – Wake up Call, Breakfast
- 5:00 AM – Start of hike to Mt Kupapey
- 5:40 AM – Arrival in Mt Kupapey, Bonfire while waiting for sunrise
- 6:00 AM – Expected sunrise and sea of clouds viewing
- 7:00 AM – Trek back to Maligcong village
- 7:30 AM – Arrival in the community
- 9:00 AM – Departure to Bontoc proper
- 9:30 AM – Arrival in Bontoc
- 10:30 AM – Departure from Bontoc to Manila via Coda Lines
Note: You may book PM schedules of Coda Lines if you want to explore sights within Bontoc town.
Estimated Budget: Php 2,500 per person
Try Speaking the Local Language
Some locals are often shy when talking with people of a different language. Others would even avoid such conversation. That is why, if you want to connect with them, it helps to speak the local language.
You don’t have to be well-versed. Trying out some common utterances and expressions can be a great way of building rapport with people.
Most of the people belong to the Bontoc tribe (also called Ifontok) and they speak Finontok. Other tribes can also partially understand this language. So, do try learning and speaking the following:
Extra Sights Near Mt. Kupapey
Hiking to Mt Kupapey is mostly done during the early morning. Thus, you’ll have the rest of the day to visit other tourist spots in Maligcong such as the following:
Mt. Fato is adjacent to Mt. Kupapey and can be hiked for more or less an hour. Tourists hiking to Mt Kupapey usually proceed to Mt. Fato as trails connect both mountains. The mountain is called “Fato” because its summit features a big limestone rock formation. “Fato” is a local term referring to a rock or stone.
Liknon Falls is a newly-discovered tourist spot in Maligcong. It takes more than an hour of a hike from the community to reach it. It is, however, recommended only to extreme hikers or adventurers as the trail is slippery and can be dangerous, especially just after the rains.