Hiking Mt. Tapulao

Our adventure today takes us to the highest mountain in the province of Zambales. Join me as we hike Mt. Tapulao.

Mt. Tapulao

Mt. Tapulao details

Located in the town of Palauig, Mt. Tapulao is well known for its semi-temperate climate, pine trees, and rocky trails. It got its name from tapulao or pine trees in the local dialect.

Mt. Tapulao - Palauig, Zambales

Height: 2,037 m
Major trailhead: Sitio Dampay, Brgy. Salaza, Palauig Zambales
Climb time: 7-12 hours depending on your pacing

Mt. Tapulao's rocky trail

Due to the many similarities between Mt. Tapulao and Mt. Pulag in Benguet, and the proximity of Mt. Tapulao to Manila, seasoned hikers would say that it is a perfect alternative to Mt. Pulag. Hence they dubbed Mt. Tapulao as the "Poor man's Pulag". No matter the comparisons there are, both mountains give every climber the same aspiration to reach the top.

Hello, pine trees!

If you're planning to climb Mt. Tapulao. I suggest that you start early, to avoid the energy-draining heat of the sun. Keep in mind that it requires as much as 12 hours of strenuous walking to reach the campsite. If you're worried about your water supply there are 3 water stations en route to the peak. The first one is located at km. 5, the next one is at km 10 and the last one is at km 16 near the "bunkhouse".

Trail Map of Mt. Tapulao

Once you reach the bunkhouse, it is highly suggested that you call it a day and pitch in your tent. However, if you have extra energy and plenty of daylight left you could proceed to the summit. from the bunkhouse, it would take you an additional 30-45 minutes to reach the peak. Once there, you would see Mt. Tapulao's most photographed tree - the "world tree".

Camp near the Bunkhouse

Sad to say, the peak of Mt. Tapulao does not offer a full 360-degree view of its surrounding landscape. You could see however a partial view of the West Philippine Sea (and some Chinese warships patrolling Scarborough Shoal)*.

*just kidding

The World Tree as seen from the peak of Mt. Tapulao
You have to be mentally and physically conditioned before you decide to descend Mt. Tapulao. For me going down the mountain is more arduous than going up. It took three days for my knees and muscles to fully recover after that adventure.

Mt. Tapulao conqueror certificate

Here are some important things to keep in mind and remember before trying to conquer Mt. Tapulao.

Why hike Mt. Tapulao?

Mt. Tapulao might not be as famous as the other mountains of Luzon but it is definitely one of the must-hike mountains of the country. Aside from that, it is also one of the highest peaks of the country and the highest in the province. You would surely love the scenery along with the way and of course the view from the peak. 

Getting to Mt. Tapulao:

From Caloocan terminal, board a Victory Liner bus to Sta. Cruz. Board down at Iba bus terminal and arrange for a tricycle to bring you to Sitio Dampay. Register at the Eco-Center. After registering and paying the fees then your adventure begins!!!

Take a bus that's going to pass by the Iba terminal


1. Skin cancer by applying your most trusted sunblock.
2. Dehydration by drinking plenty of water.
3. Getting lost by joining an experienced group.
4. Injury and accidents by following your group leader.
5. Malaria or Dengue by applying mosquito repellent.

Mt. Tapulao Itinerary:

Day 0

12:00PM Departure from Victory Liner Terminal in Caloocan
bus fare: P350

Day 1

4:30AM ETA Iba Zambales, take a tricycle to the Eco-Center in Sitio Dampay
tricycle fare: P450 for 3pax 
5:20AM ETA Sitio Dampay
5:25-5:50AM Registration and warm-up
registration fee: P30 + guide: P100 (guides are now required to groups of 5)
6:00AM Start ascent
9:30AM First water source
11:30AM Second water source, prepare lunch
12:00NN Lunch (among the three water sources the second water source has the strongest flow; take advantage of it.)
5:00PM ETA "Bunkhouse"
5:30PM Set up camp* 
*you could sleep in the bunkhouse for P10
6:30PM Prepare dinner
7:30PM Dinner and bonding time
9:00PM Off to bed

Day 2

6:00AM Ascent to the peak
6:50AM ETA Mt. Tapulao Peak
7:30AM Descent to the bunkhouse
8:30AM ETA bunkhouse; break camp
9:00AM Descent to Sitio Dampay
10:30AM Second water source
12:00NN First water source; lunch
1:00PM  Continue descent to Sitio Dampay
5:00PM ETA Sitio Dampay; rest and wash up
6:00PM Departure to Iba bus terminal

Budget Breakdown:

Estimated Budget: P2000
Bus fare to Iba, Zambales: P350
Tricycle fare to Sitio Dampay: P450
Registration: P30
Guide: P100
Tricycle fare to Iba Terminal: P450
Bus fare to Caloocan: P350

Total Expense: P 1730




Overall Ratings


  1. awesome adventure Neil! kita kits sa trails


  2. Kayang kaya mo yan sir! Conditioning lang kelangan! =)

  3. Conquered Mt. Tapulao last weekend! Such a great experience!! =)

    11 Hrs hike and 4 hrs going down. :D

    It was like " A rocky road to forever" LOL :P

    1. Hahahaha. It's like going to Ilocos Sur from Cubao. Hahaha. 4hours going down? Career. Hahahah

  4. I am really glad to glance at this web site posts which carries lkts of valuable facts,
    thanks for providing these kinds of data.

  5. I like this post, enjoyed this one thank you for posting.

  6. Malupitang hike to sir. Congrats!


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