Bicycle touring the Philippines: Tayug (Pangasinan) to Tabeyo Lake (Mt. Pulag)

Alternatively titled: Into the mountains and terraced fields of Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet provinces. I was very excited to leave the flats and get into the northern Luzon cordillera. For years this is why I wanted to come ride in the Philippines!

For us the climbing started in San Nicolas with what could have been a fairly easy 1200m climb to Malico. However, the strong, squirrelly wind almost blew me off my bicycle a couple times, and some rain made it a bit cold at the top. We chatted with Binz from Angeles, the only fellow bicycle traveler we met during our month on Luzon.

IMG_20240116_070812 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240116_100536 by bryandkeith on flickr
Jeff and Binz? (Binzangeles (aka Woop.xplorer)) by bryandkeith on flickr

On the wet, rainy descent to Santa Fe Jeff and I stopped for the nice excursion to Imugan Falls. It’s touristy enough to have an entrance fee, but we were the only ones there.

IMG_20240116_135114 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240116_140918 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240116_141906 by bryandkeith on flickr

Santa Fe was down low at 500m but surprisingly cold at night. Indeed every night through here I complained about the cold, lack of sufficient blankets, sleeping in all my clothes. After Santa Fe we stayed in Kayapa (1100m), Ambangeg (1400m), and Kabayan (1200m). We learned that many hotels in the Philippines do not have signs and are not listed on the internet. You have to ask around when you get to town. This is easy since most people speak English.

We also learned that we could find excellent mangoes and good (well, at least decent) baked goods (banana bread and hopia were my favorites) almost every day.

Leaving Santa Fe we had a few kms of (very unusual for this section) flat riding before getting back into the mountains.

IMG_20240117_071809 by bryandkeith on flickr
WhatsApp%20Image%202024-01-18%20at%2013.50.19 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240117_074342 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240117_075315 by bryandkeith on flickr

Cheryl, our host in Kayapa, cooked us tasty meals and had a comfortable house so we stayed two nights. We had considered walking up nearby 2100m Mount Ugo, but the peaks had been in clouds every day. We opted instead to check out the rice terraces at Kayapa Proper West, an excellent choice. After about 15km of kind of hilly riding, we locked our bicycles at the end of the road and started walking up the concrete path to Sitio Libawan, the collection of houses in this photo:

IMG_20240118_095912 by bryandkeith on flickr

Trying to figure out which path went all the way through the village, we stumbled upon a one-year-old’s birthday party with guests coming from as far away as Bokod and Baguio. They gave us lunch of noodles with veggies (tasty) and roasted (?) pig (not so tasty).

celebrating a one-year-old's birthday by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240118_115859 by bryandkeith on flickr

After eating Jeff and I had our first walk through terraced rice fields — how exciting! There were cauliflower and tomatoes as well. Kayapa Proper West was a fun excursion.

IMG_20240118_121531 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240118_122049 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240118_122456 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240118_130605 by bryandkeith on flickr

From Kayapa the roads started to get steeper. Continuous grades of over 10% were common. This short bit through Karao was one of the few flat sections that day:

IMG_20240119_140347 by bryandkeith on flickr

After staying the night at the guest house on the university campus in Ambangeg, I was enthusiastic to climb up to 2300m through Palansa to see more terraced fields. This is the road many people use to access Mt. Pulag, Luzon’s highest peak. Jeff’s knee isn’t so keen on the 10% grades so he opted for the flatter main road that day (and more time for bird watching). I was not disappointed with the views, though it was all vegetable terraces — potato, carrot, onion, cabbage — not rice terraces.

IMG_20240120_082417 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240120_082717 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240120_092209 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240120_095758 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240120_104500 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240120_105509 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240120_112229 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240120_115319 by bryandkeith on flickr

A friendly, generous (so typical in the Philippines) woman in Palansa gave me breakfast. She was preparing a bunch of food for her one-year-old’s birthday party. Indeed these first year birthday parties are important in the Philippines, presumably because (in the past hopefully) many children did not live to see their first birthday.

IMG_20240120_084347 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240120_085351 by bryandkeith on flickr

From Kabayan Jeff and I climbed again the next day, up through more nice views with more terraced vegetable fields, up to Tabeyo Lake in Mt. Pulag National Park.

IMG_20240121_072001 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240121_093336 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240121_095105 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240121_101227 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240121_101234 by bryandkeith on flickr

Here we are, again at 2300m, about to cross into famous Ifugao Province!

IMG_20240121_111857_1 by bryandkeith on flickr
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2 Responses to Bicycle touring the Philippines: Tayug (Pangasinan) to Tabeyo Lake (Mt. Pulag)

  1. Mike Painter says:

    Beautiful landscape!

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