Mt. Kalatungan – Mt. Wiji Traverse | 5th Highest Mountain in the Philippines

Popular for being the fifth highest mountain peak in the Philippines, Mount Kalatungan has been tagged by many climbers as a mountain that is “difficult to climb”. This mountain range in Mindanao stretches in areas of Valencia, Maramag, Talakag and Pangantucan, Bukidnon.

A mountain that stands 2,907 MASL, it is no surprise that only the toughest take the challenge.

mount kalatungan

Mt Kalatungan is not only seen as majestic because of its credentials but its mossy forest has also made an impact on mountaineers. The diversity within the forest is simply an enchanting experience.

Last October 4-6, 2019 I had the privileged to join a climb to Kalatungan mountain range with my friends, a pack we call ‘burikatkats’ 😀

It had been a long time plan and after previous cancellations, finally it happened. So let me share with you our hiking adventure.

kalatungan climb

Mt. Kalatungan – Mt. Wiji (aka Mt. Makaupao) Traverse Hike

  • Highest Point Elevation: 2,907 MASL
  • Entry/Exit point: Brgy. Mendis, Pangantucan
  • Coordinates: 7°57′18″N 124°48′09″E
  • Days required / Hours to summit: 3-4 days / 15 hours
  • Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 8/9, Trail class 3-4
  • Features: Tribal domain, mossy forest, Top 10

Mt. Kalatungan – Mt. Wiji Sample Itinerary

mt kalatungan traverse wiji

Credits to Hoswa Loyola for the Photo

Day 1

  • 12:30am – Meetup at Davao City
  • 1:00am – ETD Davao
  • 5:00am- ETA Maramag
  • 6:00am- ETD to Tourism Office
    – Process Permit
    – Log in (Bring VALID IDs,)
    – Breakfast
    – Buy Pack Lunch
  • 8:00am- ETD to Mendis
  • 9:00am- ETA Mendis/Ritual
  • 10:00am Start Trek to View Deck
  • 1:00pm- ETA View deck
    – Lunch
    – Pitch Tent
  • 6:00pm- Dinner (hosted by our organizer – Saka ta Bai)
  • 8:00pm- Lights off

Day 2

  • 2:00am- Wake up Call
    – Breakcamp
    – Light Breakfast
    – Packed Breakfast
  • 3:00am- ETD to Buko buko sa anay
  • 5:30 ETA Buko2 sa Anay (Muleta falls view deck)
    – Sunrise
    – Picture2x
    – Breakfast (Hosted)
  • 7:00am- ETD to Mt. Kalatungan Summit
  • 10:00am- ETA Junction
  • 11:00am- ETA Mt.Kalatungan Summit
    – Picture2x
    – Relax
  • 12:30pm- Back to Junction
  • 1:00pm- ETA Junction
    – Lunch
    – Relax
  • 2:00pm- ETD to Bamboo Camp
  • 4:00pm- ETA Bamboo Camp
    – Pitch Tent
    – Relax
  • 6:00pm- Dinner
  • 8:00pm- Lights off

Day 3

  • 3:00am- Wake up call
    – Breakcamp
  • 4:00pm- ETA to Lumpanag Peak (Mt.Wiji)
  • 5:30am- ETA Mt.Lumpanag
    – Picture2x
    – Sunrise
  • 7:00am- Breakfast
    (Antay ng Sea of Clouds)
  • 9:00am- Start descent to Mendis
  • 1:00pm- ETA Brgy. Mendis
    – Lunch
    – Wash up
  • 3:00pm- ETD from Maramag to Davao City
  • 7:00pm- ETA Davao City

How fascinating it was to discover how capable we are in doing things that we thought we cannot do. Conquering the 5th highest mountains in the Philippines is a self-achievement for me considering this was my first major climb.

So here goes our adventure…

mount kalatungan preparation

Day 1: Preparation

  • 2:00 AM – Departure time from Davao.
  • 5:30 AM -Arrival at Maramag to have breakfast. We then proceeded to Pangantukan for our registration. The registration went like a breeze, no complications. There is also a mandatory climb permit you have to get, a waiver signed, and a quick orientation from the Tourism office before you start your trek.
  • 7:30 AM – An 8km travel from Pangantukan to Mendez. Another registration was done at the barangay hall and it is there that we would need to present our climb permit.

Tribal Ceremonies

Prior to every Mount Kalatungan climb, hikers will be required to offer a live chicken or a similar offering. This will be used for tribal prayers & ritual by the tribe leader to ask the fairies & mountain guardians to guide the hikers on their journey, as locals consider Kalatungan as a holy mountain.

mt kalatungan tribal ceremony

Quick Trivia: Do you know why the mountain is named “Kalatungan”?

Here’s an interesting story about Kalatungan’s name and etymology.

Bukidnon legend has it that during the primeval Great Flood, only the Kitanglad peak remained above the waters – and therein grew a stalk of lemon grass (tanglad) hence the name of the mountain. But the Talaandig tribes of Brgy. Miarayon [trailhead of the Kalatungan trail] clarifies that in fact, the Kalatungan peak too, stood above sea level. And whereas plant life survived in Kitanglad, animal life took a stand in Kalatungan’s summit, where praying mantis eggs were found. Hence, Kalatungan became the mountain’s name, meaning “praying mantis eggs” in the native tongues.

highest mountains in the philippines

This and more tales are just a part of the cultural component of the trip, and it is always encouraged of climbers to take interest in the tribe’s ceremonies and folkways.

Day 1: Start of Trek – View Deck

  • 9:00 AM – We started our trek, seeing some of the locals with their welcoming smiles as we passed through. Some kids are even cheering us on – only to find out that they are doing this to ask for trail foods (candies & chocolates mostly) from us. haha!

mt kalatungan

kalatungan mountain range

mt kalatungan view

view deck house kalatungan

  • 2:00 PM – After 4-5 hours of hiking to mostly ascending trails, we finally arrived at the viewing deck which also had a spectacular view. There was a house built for climbers and it is where we’ll be spending our first night.

view deck kalatungan

Plus since we are the only climbers during that time, we own the entire place to ourselves!

where to stay in mt kalatungan

Plenty of time to rest, relax & simply commune with nature!

Day 2 – Kalatungan Summit – Bamboo Camp

We were supposed to break camp & leave at 3am but because it was still raining heavily, we waited for another hour.

  • 4:00 AM – ETD from View Deck
  • 7:30 AM – Finally we reached Buko-buko sa Anay (Muleta falls view deck)

buko buko sa anay

kalatungan mountain range

We got lucky because even if it rained so much the previous night, the moment we arrive THERE WAS A CLEARING and you can see Muleta falls! Yay!

muleta falls

muleta falls kalatungan

After some photo ops & eating our packed breakfast, we prepared again to continue our journey to the summit.

mountain range kalatungan

Then we entered the mossy forest, which was quite interesting.

mt kalatungan mossy forest

mossy forest mountain

And there we had lots of photo ops again! haha!

mossy forest

  • 10:30 AM – We reached the junction, the last stop before reaching the summit.
  • **You can leave your bags here at the junction – climb the summit – then just come back for it before heading to the campsite for the night.

mt. kalatungan junction

There was also a water source here.

mt. kalatungan water source

  • 12:00 PM – finally.. we reached the summit of Mt Kalatungan!

5th highest mountain peak

kalatungan mountain peak

mount kalatungan peak

There was not much view here so we just made the most of the scenery. The weather’s a bit foggy – but overall very lovely.

mossy forest in philippines

An Unfortunate Accident

On our descent, almost everyone’s on a hurry because dark clouds are coming up at the distance. The trail’s a bit muddy because of the rain the previous night.. I was trailing behind the group – when all of a sudden I slipped & tripped.. hit my lower back (lumbosacral area) hard on a protruding root of a tree..

mt.kalatungan

Damn… it was really painful. Thought I couldn’t stand up.. But luckily I did, though there was that nagging pain – which exacerbates when I bent down, sit, raise my leg, or exert effort on my lower back.

This made my trek slower back to the junction – luckily one of the guides/porters was trailing behind me & “kuya” led me to a shortcut trail that even if I’m the last one leaving already, I still managed to reach the campsite (Bamboo Camp) before some of our friends did.

bamboo camp

Upon arriving at the Bamboo Camp, I’m already feeling a bit nauseous, weak & dizzy. Probably the injury added too. I immediately put up my tent and rested almost the entire afternoon.

Caution: It was extremely cold in the Bamboo Camp. Our organizer said that sometimes the temp may even reach 4*C so be prepared!

Make sure to bring your winter outfit! haha.

Day 3 – Trek to Mt. Wiji

  • 3:15 AM – Break camp.
  • 4:00 AM – Breakfast
  • 6:00 AM – Start of trek to Mt Wiji

Mt Wiji

The view ascending Mt Wiji was just amazing! With the cold clouds blowing along the open trail, it’s just perfect!

  • 7:00 AM – ETA peak of Mt. Wiji.

Mt Lumpanag Peak

Lo and behold, another clearing!. It was truly a beautiful sight to see! Plenty of sea of clouds!

mount kalatungan sea of clouds

What is even more amazing because at the peak of Mt Wiji, you’ll see a lot of popular mountains in different directions: Mt. Apo – Mt. Matutum (hello to my hometown!), Kitanglad Range and Mt. Piayapayungan.

mt makaupao

where is mt wiji

Because of the beautiful view, what it would be such a waste if we didn’t take this opportunity to take as many photos as we can, and we did haha!

mt wiji peak

kalatungan peak

reach high mountain

Here’s the famous tree at Mt Wiji’s Peak that most climbers use for photo op.

mt wiji tree

  • 9:00am- Start descent to Mendis.
  • 4:30 PM – After trekking for 8km, we finally, FINALLY arrived back at Brgy Mendis.

Hello sa mga masasakit ang balakang, tuhod at katawan! haha!

And this marks the end of our trek. Boy was it beautiful!

where is mt. kalatungan

Here are some travel tips:

  • It is best to contact the Tourism Office of Pangantucan BEFORE your actual climb dates as there is a limit of climbers allowed per day.
  • No need to worry for mountain guides and porters, it will be organized for you.
  • DO NOT FORGET to bring Chicken for the tribal ritual in the area. This is mandatory and needs to be given to the tribal chieftain.

To make your climb easier & hassle free, you may contact SAKA TA BAI for their tour package (which we did avail! Ang bait pa ng organizer!)

saka ta bai

  • This is a major climb, so be prepare.. It is advisable that beginners should have 3 days and 2 nights trekking trip for these two mountains. It is a long tip that has difficult trails and limited water sources; one MUST not only be physically prepared but also mentally prepared for this.

Like everything in life, nothing comes easy. Just like how trekking these two mountains wasn’t a walk on the park. But like everything else in life, hard work and patience surely pays off.

And when you get to see the view, you’ll just smile and say, “it was definitely worth it!”

mt kalatungan freedom

*Credits & thanks to the following for letting me use their photos:

Until our next adventure!

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