I made my Mt Amuyao 2-day Trek into 3 days, due to a minor injury. My trek finished in Mayoyao, but you can alternatively finish in Banaue.
Mt. Amuyao Traverse is in the Mountain Province, Philippines
Are you looking to climb a mountain in the Philippines? First of all, the best Mountain Province map is an interactive one, like the one on Google Maps. The trekking route is by footpath only, so there is no roadmap. The Mountain Province, Philippines is in North Luzon, the largest and main island of this island nation. Manila, the capital, is located in the south of this island.
Mt. Amuyao is among the most famous mountains in the Philippines, although there are many other mountains in Luzon. This is because from the peak, if the weather is right, you can see a sea of clouds.
At some point during the traverse, you cross over into Ifugao Province.
Mt. Amuyao Traverse Route
Generally, people start in Barlig, which is a 2-hour jeepney ride from Bontoc, the closest city. (Bontoc lies between Barlig and Sagada.) I hiked from Barlig to the top of Mt. Amuyao with a local guide arranged at the tourism office the night before. The Mt Amuyao reverse traverse route starts in Batad and finishes in Barlig.
Video starts on the stairs in Barlig taking you up Mt. Amuyao.
The trickiest part is all the staircases through Barlig to the trailhead. The town lies along a river basin that has high mountains on either side. Once you’re on the trail the path is very obvious. However, I appreciated having my guide so I could ask questions and learn about the environment. I also learned why the trail is so well maintained.
Trucks arrive monthly in Barlig with a months’ worth of fuel for the satellite television transmitters. This fuel is transported up the mountain liter by liter by males of all ages ranging from 6 on up. Little kids carry small containers, while adults carry a full load. They hike up the trail carrying the heavy plastic containers in 2 or 3 hours. And, then they practically run down the mountain with the empties.
At the top of the mountain, my guide and I ate lunch, hung out with his friends, and watched a rat scurrying around. If you plan on spending the night up here your options are to bring a tent or sleep in a windowless building, which I was told is not very nice inside—you sleep on the ground. However, I’ve heard it’s worth it for the sunrise!
Trekking Mt. Amuyao without a Guide
At the top of Mt. Amuyao, my guide and I parted ways. He returned to Barlig and I continued on for the remainder of my trek. The trail was still very obvious. There are a couple of forks in the road, but my guide told me which way to go, so it was easy.
My Injury Was Not Fun, to Say the Least
The main difficulty was that there had been a typhoon a few days before, and I was the first person on the trail since then. There were downed trees. Unfortunately, at some point, I touched a plant with microscopic spines. The result is that you get an immense pain like your skin is on fire. Luckily I first felt the pain when I was at a river crossing. I tried to wash it off in the cold water, not knowing what was causing the pain. Soon my hands puffed up and got very pink with some white spots. My legs were in slightly less pain. I jogged and hiked on the flat ground as much as possible, arriving at a small open farming area. I attempted to ask an elderly woman for the direction to the village, but she spoke no English. Eventually, I arrived at the village but found no people, and the homes were very spread out.
I then came upon a woman working in a rice paddy, and she both spoke English and could offer me a place to stay. She offered no medical advice or treatment for my pain. The pain eventually subsided, but then came back so strongly that night when it got cold. I later found out in Mayoyao that keeping the injured areas warm will prevent pain, as well as the name of the plant I must have touched.
So, I stayed 2 nights in Patyay, Ifugao Province, since I did not yet understand the pain and wanted to recuperate before trekking solo again. I stayed in a traditional house with wood floors and bed. The family who owned it stayed in a separate traditional house next door to mine. It was a great homestay experience, as I ate with the family in the family’s home.
My Homestay in Patyay, Ifugao Was Cool!
Meals at the homestay included dry ramen pasta transported in. Fresh food included 2 types of frogs from the river as well as green vegetable. Everything was cooked over a fire in the fireplace in the 2-room home. We sat on the wood floor. There were 2 very short wooden seats, like a tiny bench. I was often offered one of them.
Video is of my homestay in Patyay.
The rock cobblestone yard had a laundry line bordering it. Chickens and puppies wandered around with the kids. The pit toilet was a small building a few steps downhill (but a steep little path, so not ideal for night time visits!) from the yard.
There are so many ears of corn hung to dry both in the kitchen and under the homes. When I asked my homestay mother how it was prepared, she responded: “It is for chickens.” So, we did not eat any of it. Oops.
Mt. Amuyao Trek: Day 2
The second day of hiking was to Mayoyao and took about 5 hours. My homestay mother guided me through the miles of rice terraces around Patyay. There are so many stairs, it seemed like a maze. She then directed me over the bridges and paths to Mayoyao, so I walked the rest of the way solo.
Generally, the route is to the Banaue or Batad for the Banaue rice terraces carved into the mountainsides. However, I would recommend Mayoyao if you enjoy getting off the beaten path. There are very few tourists, the people are very friendly, and the Mayoyao rice terraces are gorgeous, too!
There are many mountains in the Philippines for hiking, but this one is known as being accessible for both novice and experienced hikers. If you’re in good shape you can hike from Barlig to the peak in 4 hours, including short breaks. Some sections are steep.
For anyone, this is a great hike through the Philippine forest. It’s among the top 10 highest mountains in the Philippines!
Saan matatagpuan ang banaue rice terraces
Saan matatagpuan ang banaue rice terracesmeans “where are banaue rice terraces located?”
This is a really useful phrase. If you decide to visit Banaue, this phrase will help get you there if you are guide-less. And, if you decide to visit Mayoyao like I did, just replace “Banaue” with “Mayoyao”.
What to Bring
Shoes– I hiked in sneakers. The local people hike in sandals, such as flip-flops. Hiking boots are not necessary unless you prefer them.
Food– There is food in the villages, but portions may be smaller than you want. You can buy snacks in Barlig and Mayoyao.
Sun Protection – Hat, long-sleeved shirt, sunscreen, etc. I’m not sure about the availability if sunscreen in small towns, so arrive prepared.
Storing Your Luggage
If you’re trekking one way from Barlig, I recommend leaving any items you won’t be carrying during your trek in Bontoc. After my trek, I returned to Bontoc to retrieve my items from my hotel there (my things were untouched– in fact, I never had any problem with pick-pocketing or any other stealing or crime during my trip). I then visited other nearby places like Maligcong for picturesque rice paddies (30 minutes uphill by Jeepney) and Sagada (45 minutes by jeepney) for the enormous cave. This way, you don’t need to return on a once-daily jeepney between Bontoc and Barlig (2 hours each way).
Your luggage can be transported, but it’s another cost.
Where to Sleep, How Long to Stay, and Where to Eat
All my lodging and food costs were low– $4-$10 per night for small hotels. A couple of dollars per meal. If you’re arriving to Bonton or Banaue after a long bus ride, I recommend booking your hotel for at least the first night in advance. This way, you can go directly to your accomodation upon arrival. It just makes life a little easier.
Bontoc – 1 night is enough
This large town is a transportation hub. Your destination will dictate the location of where you can catch a bus or jeepney. There is plenty of electricity here for charging all your batteries or you can buy an ice cream. The main market (near the Jeepney stop to Maligcong) is worth a look. The river is big. Plenty of hotels in many price ranges.
The fried chicken sold on the street is so good!
Barlig – 2 to 3 nights suggested
This town has a few small hotels. I stayed at Sea World (next door to Barlig Tourism Office), which is very basic but has gorgeous views of rice terraces from the rooms facing the river bottom. I simply arrived without a reservation, and I don’t think any other guests were in the hotel. Just let your jeepney driver know where to drop you off. Not many people come here, and I was told that only a few Americans come through— more French tourists come. There are also a few restaurants.
I only allocated 1 night, but at the tourism office learned that there are many hikes and waterfalls in the area. I would definitely come here again and see more of the area!
There are small restaurants and cafes. When you go for dinner go early. It’s a small town, so restaurants don’t necessarily stay open late. Also, take your headlamp! It’s very dark at night. Luckily I made some new friends, and they showed me the shorter way back to my hotel via the stairs.
Patyay Homestay – 1-2 nights suggested
A village homestay is possible without a reservation. You can try and ask the tourism office to call ahead for you, but cell phone service in Patyay was in and out. The village may have electricity by now, as the community had installed all the power lines, but was still waiting for the power to be turned on by the electric company. (If you know there is electricity now, please let me know and I’ll update this.)
Mayoyao – 2 to 3 nights suggested
Mayoyao accommodation is catered toward Filipinos. I understood that they often arrive in groups for visiting the rice terraces. According to the tourism office, only one or two Americans come per month, whereas about 20 French tourists come. It seems that most tourists arrive on day tours.
A funny thing happened—the tourism office said I had to pay $10 USD per day to take any photographs at all. I balked, and they did not make me pay. Hopefully, they’ve changed this rule, since I’ve never heard of this anywhere else in the world. Especially for a tourist spending on a hotel, food, etc.
I would have stayed here 2 nights, but the bus schedule was not amenable to that—there was a big landslide from the recent typhoon.
Everyone in the town was so nice to me! They helped me get all the way healed from the injury from the stinging plant. Also, the WWII history in this area is fascinating. Many people can share stories they heard directly from their parents.
Food: there is a market with some food stands that have semi-indoor seating. If you’re vegetarian, go early in the day. Meals contain mostly meat, but there are plenty of veggies if you let them know in advance.
Shops: In the central plaza around the basketball court there is a little pharmacy shop. They have a freezer and sell homemade chocolate popsicles for a few cents! Perfect when you’ve just finished a trek. Another shop sells bottles of coconut oil, which is great if you need some lotion.
Batad & Banaue Rice Terraces
I did not stay overnight here—I just passed through from Mayoyao back to Bontoc. This is such a touristy area! Tons of hotels and food everywhere! Also, if you want to plan a trek, just arrive and set it up in a tour office—there are various routes.
While waiting for my bus connection I walked up the road and found a lunch spot packed with locals. It was delicious food!
Mt. Amuyao Guides & Tours
Local guides can be arranged through the Barlig Tourism office or reach out to this Facebook page maintained by local Barlig guides. All the guides I met speak English and Tagalog, so just let them know your preferred language.
Tours in the Philippines generally. Check out the tours to the Chocolate Mountains in Bohol!
See an overview of my off the beaten path trip to the Philippines. I traveled for a month.