A First-Timer's D.I.Y. Guide to Four Lakes of Kabayan, Benguet

23 November 2019 Kabayan, Benguet, Philippines

The trip to Ballay village is one of the most unique yet astounding journeys I've ever gone on. It lies along one of Benguet's most beautiful cordilleran ranges and follows some of its most isolated and breathtaking boondocks — shot straight into heart: the highest dosage there is. Read on and find out: "A First-timer's ultimate D.I.Y. guide to Four Lakes and Mt. Tabayoc of Kabayan".

The quaint Ballay village, it's four mystical lakes, and the grand Mt. Tabayoc

Unbeknownst to many there lies a quaint little village amidst the highest elevations in Luzon — this is Barangay Ballay or Ballay village (Ballay: pronounced as Bal-lay). Due to its remote location and steep narrow roads, going up to the village can be quite demanding. But then, don't be discourage, as everything will be worth it as soon as you will set your eyes on this breath-taking paradise. The village holds staggering post-card perfect wonders that one will be left broken-hearted when one will separate from the place. It offers the four mystical lakes and the grand Mt. Tabayoc

The four mountain lakes — which are called Tabeo, Incolos, Latep Ngapos, and Bulalacao/Ambulalakaw — including Junior Pulag is a part of the "Tabeyo Trail" a.k.a "Four Lakes Trail". One will finish the Tabeyo Trail for a roughly 2-3 hrs. On the other hand, the serene Ballay village is the major jump-off point to Mt. Tabayoc summit and it is a 6 hrs. hike and back to the Ballay Ranger Station. Mt. Tabayoc is the second highest mountain of Luzon and the fifth highest in the Philippines.

Both the Tabeyo Trail and Mt. Tabayoc are proud of its seemingly endless mossy forests, muddy trails, dwarfed trees with trunks and branches twisting.

Lake Tabeo

Lake Tabeo is the first of the Four Lakes of Kabayan and by far the most accessible lake of Ballay village as it's just nearby the main road. Along its shores stands the Ballay Ranger Station and the campsite for people who wants to experience a unique camping experience beside its crystal waters.

Junior Pulag

There's a portion of the "Tabeyo Trail" that is similarly of like Mt. Pulag hence dubbed as "Junior Pulag consisting of a mossy trails and grass lands at the top.

Lake Incolos

Lake Incolos seemed non-existent but don't let it fool you. The lake is actually under the ground — it's a peat bog swampland. Picture "The Dead Marshes" in the movie Lord Of The Rings. It's exactly how it was described in the book. Minus the dead bodies underneath of course (or atleast that's what I know). One who is not careful enough while crossing this trechearous quagmire would mean certain demise.

"Dreary and wearisome. Cold, clammy winter still held sway in this forsaken country. The only green was the scum of livid weed on the dark greasy surfaces of the sullen waters. Dead grasses and rotting reeds loomed up in the mists like ragged shadows of long forgotten summers." — from Passage of the Marshes, The Two Towers

Lake Latep-Ngapos

One of my favorite lakes next to the marshland Incolos. Lake Latep-Ngapos was a beauty yet enchanting piece of natural art. The mist and the rain adds more bewitching enigma.

Lake Ambulalakaw/Bulalacao

Ambulalakaw Lake has won "The cleanest in-land lake" during the past consecutive years and it still is until today. The locals preserve it that swimming or any form of similar activity is prohibited.

Tabeyo (Four Lakes) Trail details

Since our climb to Mt. Tabayoc didn't happen as planned, we only did the "Tabeyo (Four Lakes) Trail", so I will be highlighting this trail on this post. In just a short few bullet points, you’ll get a high-level overview of what to expect on your Four Lakes hiking adventure.

  • Where is the Tabeyo (Four Lakes) Trail? The trail is located at Sitio Tabayo, Brgy. Ballay Village, Kabayan, Benguet and it is a part of the Mt. Pulag National Park.
  • Trail Name: Tabeyo Trail or Four Lakes Trail
  • Type of trail: Loop (if starting from the Tabeo Lake - Ballay Ranger Station)
  • Trailhead name: The hike starts from the Tabeo Lake - Ballay Ranger Station (or you could drive to up until the trail head proper which is approximately around 1 km from the ranger station).
  • How long is the Tabeyo Trail hike? You can finish all lakes roughly around 3-4 hours (and back to Ballay Ranger Station) depending on you pace. We were able to visit all the lakes in a single afternoon.
  • How many days to spend in Ballay village? Most people stay in Ballay for 2 days. On the first day, you can visit the Four Lakes (Tabeyo Trail), and on the second day, you can climb Mt. Tabayoc or vice versa.
  • Tabeyo Trail Crowds: Not crowdy. Due to the remoteness and planning required to do this trail, its not as popular as other Benguet trails.
  • Tabeyo Trail hike difficulty: The biggest difficulty in backpacking this rugged terrain — hiking amongst the dwarfed mossy twisted trees à la monkey — and among the muddy (sometimes knee deep)terrain. It can really be difficult on the knees. The terrain is uneven and can take a toll on your body.
  • Do I need a medical certificate to do Tabeyo Trail Hike? NO. But if you're planning to climb Mt. Tabayoc, a medical certificate is required.
  • Is a permit required to hike Tabeyo Trail? Yes. See the reservations and permit section below.
  • Is there drinking water available along the Tabeyo Trail? Nah-da! Albeit you will be visiting the four lakes (where the waters are crystal clean), it is restricted for human consumption as it is considered sacred among the locals, especially Lake Incolos, Lake Latep-Ngapos, and Lake Ambulalakaw. Since we had our own pick-up truck, we brought a gallon of drinking water with us and just refill our water tumblers before any hiking and trekking activity.
  • Can you bring dogs on the Tabeyo Trail? Technically they are allowed, but this trail isn’t super dog friendly on their paws due to the muddy uneven terrain. I’d advise to leave the dogs at home on this hike.
  • Is backpacking the Tabeyo Trail kid friendly? Not advised for younger children, but older childer may be able to handle this trail if they are confident and a good hiker/backpacker. Keep in mind, you should consider your families hiking abilities before taking on any hiking trip with your kids.
  • Other important notes: Srictly, always get a guide. It's mandatory. Due to almost virgin untouched trail, it's easy to get lost if you don't have a guide with you. It's for your own sake, especially if you're crossing the marshes of lake Incolos.

Tabeyo Trail and Mt. Tabayoc reservations and permit

How to apply for reservation? It is advised that before planning a trip to Four Lakes (Tabeyo Trail) and/or before climbing Mt. Tabayoc, to kindly coordinate first with any DENR Ballay Tabeyo Ranger Station Park personnel (shown below) to assist you for slot reservation or any queries that you might have:
  • Mr. Omar Arlan Bugtong (Park Ranger): 0910-7645-659
  • Ms. Lyn Tawang (Park Attendant): 0910-9365-532
  • Mr. Doldin Tobiagon (Forest Protection Officer)

For guides, avail of the services of the recognized guides in Tabeyo called TAJUNPILA. Some guides are not recognized by the community and authorized by recognized authorities. Here's our TAJUNPILA guide contacts in Ballay:
  • Mr. Santiago Ballagan: 0910-752-2655
  • Mr. Jezer Ballagan (son of Mr. Santiago): 0950-116-4210

I found Uncle Santiago Ballagan's number online when I was searching for a contact in Ballay. I was a bit hesitant at first, since his number was posted in a blog dated way back 2011. So I tried to call the number, then got a text back. I was surprised that his number is still working from up to date. He was very responsive to my queries and he patiently answered all of my questions so we could have a smooth trip before going and when we were there. He also helped us in arranging our reservations to Ballay. Uncle Ballagan was not our guide when we got there, but his son Jezer Ballagan — who came all the way to fetch us and help us get to the Tabeyo Ranger Station — and assisted us all throughout. Kudos to you Uncle Ballagan and son!

Do I need a medical certificate?

If you're planning to climb Mt. Tabayoc, I highly advise that secure a medical certificate with any doctor (certifying that you are fit to climb) before you're intended adventure. You can get a medical certificate in Manila or in Baguio (or your respective doctors at home).

What sort of stuff should I pack?

When going to a place and you are not sure on what things to bring and what should you wear, your whole trip could go all wrong. Don't worry, here are essential things that you should stuff in your backpack.

  1. Backpacking backpack. Something to put all your stuffs for the whole trip.
  2. Assault pack/small backpack. You don't need to bring your large backpack when trekking the Tabeyo Trail (Four Lakes Trail) and when climbing Mt. Tabayoc. Just bring an assault pack with you which includes some trail snacks, water, jacket, a raincoat, and your little med kit (just in case something happens).
  3. Hiking shoes w/ good sole traction.
  4. Water shoes or hiking sandals. It will be wet and muddy especially if you're visiting the Four Lakes. Trust me, you don't want to sacrifice your regular hiking shoes for this. I have worn my Columbia Newton Ridge Plus waterproof hiking boot, but when we visited the Four Lakes, the mud went above my shoes, the water went above my knees. Too late when I realized that I should have brought my water shoes with me.
  5. Slippers. For a foot rest after a long days hike. You need to keep your feet happy too.
  6. Flash light/headlamp.
  7. Water bottles and/or hydration packs. Keep yourself hydrated when trekking to avoid trip to the hospitals.
  8. Layers of clothing: 2 shirts (non-cotton), thick long-sleeves sweater (fleece preferred), jacket w/ hood, rainproof jacket and pants.
  9. Thick bonnet, scarves, gloves, and socks... and/or thermal wears if you have those.
  10. Rain coat. Or you can use a large trash bag and turn it to a make-shift raincoat.
  11. Tent. If you opt to camp.
  12. Sleeping bag and sleeping pad. Essential to good nights sleep. Even though we spent the night in a home stay, we still grabbed our sleeping bags and doubled it with the provided blanket for that extra warm comfort. It can be really freezing cold during the night.
  13. Cookwares, butane, and backpacking stove... if you plan to camp and you want to cook your own food. We didn't use our backpacking stove during our night in Ballay village since the home stay has a provided kitchen which we used to cook our meals and heat our bath water.
  14. Mess kit (plate, spoon, and fork, cups/mugs) for eating your camp food. Not necessarily needed when you plan on staying with a home stay.
  15. Food and snacks according to what you like.
  16. Camera gears and a powerbank... and bring memory cards too. Take lots of photos.
  17. Basic first aid kit.
  18. Towel and some toiletries... wipes, tissue paper, and toothbrush. Also soap and shampoo. 
  19. Medical certificate. A must if you plan to climb Mt. Tabayoc and/or Mt. Pulag. But if you will do the Four Lakes trail only, then you don't need to secure one.

What should I wear?

Technically, hiking or trekking doesn't require any special clothing. However, it's best if you wear non-cotton clothing and avoid cotton as much as possible. Cotton can be quite heavy especially if you sweat and you don't want that extra weight on your backpack. Make sure to layer so you can add or subtract as temperature changes and always bring a light-weight waterproof rain jacket or waterproof pants. Also, bring a raincoat. Wear a water shoes w/ good sole traction or hiking sandals (not regular hiking shoes) if you plan to visit the Four Lakes.

Since Ballay village is located in a high mountain, it's best if you bring with you a down-jacket, thermals, or anything to keep you warm especially during the night. I just wore my thermals, my fleece PJs set, and a pair of wool socks to have a comfortable sleep.

When is the best time to visit?

For optimal experience, I suggest that you DON'T do it during rainy season (between June-October) — the main highway and the road going up the village is unstable — think falling rocks and landslides. So rainy season is highly not advisable. It's a "no-go"! See the graph below by climate-data.org for rainfall occurances.

A "more optimal" time to do this trail would be from around December to February (atleast in my opinion) if you want to experience a much colder weather. If you don't want too much cold then you could also visit during the warm summer months between March to May. October to November are fine too. Also, check with the local Ballay Ranger Station before you set out your trip for the most current weather conditions.

Our trip happened a day after a typhoon exited the Philippines, some time in November 2019. So our first day started with some heavy dark clouds and some rain; there are still visible falling rocks along the road. Thank heavens, nothing bad happened to us. We had sunshine on the second and on the last day of the trip.

How to get there?

You can opt to commute, or drive your own car, or you could rent an SUV, van, or monster jeepney in Baguio:

Driving with a personal vehicle to Ballay Village:

Getting to Ballay village to visit the four lakes and Mt. Tabayoc has its own set of challenges. I suggest that you use Google maps, turn on your location services or GPS on your mobile phones, and type in "Lake Tabeo Campsite".

Just a few days before our trip, we asked our guide (our contact) in Ballay about the road conditions going to the village, he told us that the road going up there is paved along the way. He also said, even SUVs and vans can go up there. Little did we know that it's quite challenging for us, first-timers.

First off, the road conditions aren't great on the way up to the village. My boyfriend drove my pick-up truck all the way up ( and back down). He jestingly calls it — the road to Ballay Village — a "buwis-buhay" (death-defying) road. We were chicken because with just one wrong move, we'll fall into the deep.

At the beginning (driving along the Bokod-Kabayan-Buguias-Abatan road) though, it will seem alright, but eventually you will need a high clearance vehicle. The road was indeed paved from and all the way up Ballay village, but most of it was really steep and consisting of sharp curves. Do also keep in mind that the road is narrow — only good for one vehicle at a time, has no road side barriers, and a ravine on some and/or both sides. We took an Isuzu D-Max LT 2x4 and made it just fine, but it has good clearance and good tires. I think 4WDs will be great and would really help especially driving through a steep slope. So, if you're planning to take your compact cars with you, think again. It's a no-no.

On the way up, it took us about an hour, but we were taking our time, making sure not to get lost and fall in to the abyss. Going back down to the main highway, is a breeze as you can already see the road going down (compared to going up), and it only took us about less than 25 minutes or so to get back to the main highway. If you find yourself in a situation where you had to encounter another vehicle along the way, find a good flat yet ample space to move your car to the side. You would be in luck, if you will not pass through another vehicle along the road.

On a lighter note, don't let the steep, narrow, sharp curvy road going to this scenic village fool you, to thinking that the village is not worth-visiting. You will be rewarded with amazing jaw-dropping views along the way. You might not believe your eyes that you are still in the Philippines.

Commuting to Ballay Village:

  1. From MANILA to Baguio: ride a bus going to Baguio via Victory Liner or Genesis/Joy Bus (both transit companies have terminals located at Pasay and Quezon City).
    • Bus fare
      • Genesis-Joy Bus - P450 Regular, P755 Deluxe
      • Victory Liner - P455 Regular, P750 First Class
    • Travel time: Manila to Baguio - Approx. 4-7 hrs.
  2. From BAGUIO to Kabayan via bus or van:
    1. From Baguio, hail a taxicab going to Old Slaughterhouse Terminal along Magsaysay Avenue. Tell the driver to drop you off at the van/bus terminal of Kabayan (first trip leaves at 7 a.m.).
      • Taxi fare: P70-P150
    2. Ride a bus going to Kabayan and ask the bus driver to drop you off at Poblacion, Kabayan (Kabayan Central Town Proper). Note that it's only one trip a day so you need to be there early. The bus leaves at 10:00 a.m.
      • Travel time: Baguio to Kabayan - Approx. 3-4 hrs. including stop over
      • Bus fare: - P150 Regular
  3. From Central Poblacion, you can charter a ride or arrange "habal-habal" going to Brgy. Ballay. Tell the driver that you are going to Lake Tabeo.
    • Charter ride/habal-habal fare: to be arranged with the driver
    • Travel time: Central Poblacion Town Proper to Lake Tabeyo Campsite - Approx. 35-40 mins.
  4. Proceed to Tabeyo Ranger Station (you can easily spot this situated on the land of Tabeyo Lake) in Ballay Village, Kabayan. You need to register here first before any hiking/trekking/camping activity — log-in your names, pay the fees, and complete the prerequisites — and attend a 30-minute orientation. If you're planning to climb Mt. Tabayoc, a medical certificate is required that you are fit to climb.
    • Entrance Fee: P175/person
      • Foreigners: Peso equivalent of USD 15
    • Heritage/Environmental Fee: P150/person
    • Camping Fee: P100/person
  5. At the Ballay Ranger Station you can hire a local guide (strictly mandated, you must) to take you to all the lakes and/or the summit of Mt. Tabayoc.
    • Guide Fee for Tabeyo (Four Lakes) Trail: P500 per 1-5 persons
    • Guide Fee for Mt. Tabayoc: P1,000 per 1-5 persons

Where should I stay?

Most people visiting the village would usually camp near the Tabeo Lake, but you can also opt to book a home stay.

  1. A home stay. If you don't feel like camping (or when the weather is not so good) and want a more comfortable option, you can book a home stay for just a very cheap price. Plus, you'll get to have a nice warm bath too — just bring a large pot (provided by the homestay) of water to boil — after a day of long hike. As far as I know there is only one home stay that is available in the village so I suggest that you book and reserve in advance. Due to bad weather, we decided on spending the night at a home stay (but overlooking the Tabeo Lake). We were refreshed and had a nice comfy sleep through out the night before climbing Mt. Pulag the next day. You will be greeted with amazing farm views à la Japan countryside in the morning.
  2. Camping along Tabeo Lake. This is where the Ballay Ranger Station is located. By far, the most charming camp site I have been to, as you will be waking up with a beautiful countryside lake view in the mountains. Albeit, we didn't had the chance to camp here, we still enjoyed the view of the lake from our home stay. If you want to camp here, prepare a heavy duty tent with a rain fly.
    • Camping fee: PhP 100.00 / person a night

Tabeo Lake Camping

There's no restricted campsites along the lake, however always practice leave no trace and try to minimize your impact on the environment by camping in areas that already appear to be existing campsites. Here's what you need to know about the Tabeo Lake Campsite:

  • Are there any tent, sleeping bags,portable stove, and other camping equipments that you can rent there? No. Bring your own.
  • Is there a place where you can do number 1 and number 2 at the Tabeo Lake campsite? Yes, there's an outhouse. It's just located right next to the Ballay Ranger Station.
  • Do they have a hot shower at the campsite? No, so prepare to bathe in a freezing ice cold water. Or you could manually heat the water with a large pot and with your backpacking stove.
  • Are bonfires allowed? No. No. And no.

Where and what should I eat?

If you find yourself hungry while on the way to Ballay village, there are a number of available restaurants at Poblacion, Kabayan (Kabayan town proper). We ate brunch at the Kabayan Multi-Purpose Cooperative Lodge and Resto and gas-up at it's adjacent local gasoline station before going to the village. The town proper of Kabayan is just a 30 minutes ride to Lake Tabeo camp site.
  • How much does a meal cost? *PhP 90.00 / bowl serving which includes unlimited rice
  • Meal cost is based at Kabayan Multi-Purpose Cooperative Lodge and Resto.

There are no restaurants in Ballay village, so either cook your own food or you can ask the locals to cook food for you. I suggest that you tell the guide in advance preferably at least 3 days before your trip.
  • How much does a meal cooked by the locals cost? PhP 100.00 / meal

Other notable attractions in Kabayan

Here are other attractions that you can do while you're in Kabayan:

  • Mount Pulag. The ever popular and picturesque Mt. Pulag is nestled at Kabayan Municipality and it is the highest mountain peak in Luzon proudly standing at 2,926 meters above sea level. It is regarded as the Playground of the Gods by the locals and one can reach the summit for 2-3 hrs. to Camp 2 and another 1-2 hrs. to the summit, if hiking the Ambangeg trail. See my "A First-Timer's Guide D.I.Y. Guide to Mt. Pulag - Ambangeg Trail".
  • Kabayan Museum. It is located at Poblacion, Town Proper of Kabayan and it is an existing man-made attraction, establised in the 1980s. If you want to see artificacts and to have a better understanding of the culture and natives of the Municipality of Kabayan.
  • Opdas Burial Cave. This cave is located in someone's backyard and it houses hundreds of unearthead skeletal remains believed to be dated from five hundred to a thousand years old.
  • Tinongchol Burial Rock. A man-made ingenuity carved out spaces on the rock for burying the dead. It was done so out of reverence and respect to protect the remainds of the dead from desecration.
  • Etapuan and Manenchen Early settlemet sites. A potential man-made attraction showcasing early settlement of the first inhabitants of Kabayan, Benguet.

Sample itinerary

Here are 2-days and 3-days sample detail itineraries that you can do. Keep in mind that these itineraries are patterned if you have your own vehicle (or have rented one) with you. If you're commuting, I suggest that you adjust your itineraries to fit your time.

Four Lakes and Mt. Tabayoc 2-days itinerary

A 2-days itinerary, if you plan to visit this beguilling village in the high mountains for an overnight.

Day 01

05:00 a.m. - ETD: Baguio to Kabayan, have breakfast along the way
09:00 a.m. - Kabayan Multi-purpose cooperative for breakfast
09:30 a.m. - Depart Poblacion Central (town proper) to Ballay
10:00 a.m. - ETA: Lake Tabeo camp site: registration, orientation, arrange guides
11:00 a.m. - Lunch
12:00 n.n. - Proceed to explore 4 Lakes
01:00 p.m. - Junior Pulag
01:30 p.m. - Lake Incolos
02:00 p.m. - Lake Latep-Ngapos
03:00 p.m. - Lake Ambulalakaw
03:30 p.m. - Depart Lake Ambulalakaw, back to campsite
04:15 p.m. - ETA at campsite
07:00 p.m. - Dinner
08:00 p.m. - Lights out

Day 02

04:00 a.m. - Wake up call and coffee/tea time, pack-up breakfast
05:00 a.m. - Start trek to Mt. Tabayoc
08:00 a.m. - ETA: Mt. Tabayoc summit
09:00 a.m. - Start descent
11:00 a.m. - Arrival at campsite
12:00 p.m. - Lunch
02:00 p.m. - Break camp
03:00 p.m. - Depart to Baguio
06:00 p.m. - ETA: Baguio

Luzon 2-1 (Mt. Tabayoc and Mt. Pulag) with Four Lakes itinerary

Here's our original itinerary for 3 days covering Mt. Tabayoc and Mt. Pulag. However, our plan to climb Mt. Tabayoc and camp overnight at Lake Tabeo didn't materialize because of the heavy rain. So instead of climbing Mt. Tabayoc, we decided to cancel it, and moved the Four Lakes Trail trek on the first day.

Day 01

03:00 a.m. - ETD: Baguio to Kabayan, have breakfast along the way
09:30 a.m. - Kabayan Multi-purpose cooperative for breakfast
10:30 a.m. - ETA: Lake Tabeo camp site: registration, orientation, arrange guides
11:30 a.m. - Lunch
12:00 n.n. - Assault Mt. Tabayoc
04:00 p.m. - Arrival at Mt. Tabayoc summit
03:30 p.m. - Start descent
07:30 p.m. - Back at jump-off
08:00 p.m. - Set-up camp, cook dinner
09:00 p.m. - Lights out

Day 02

04:00 a.m. - Wake-up call, coffee/tea time
05:00 a.m. - Proceed to explore 4 Lakes
06:00 a.m. - Junior Pulag
06:30 a.m. - Lake Incolos
07:00 a.m. - Lake Latep-Ngapos
08:00 a.m. - Lake Ambulalakaw
08:15 a.m. - Depart Lake Ambulalakaw back to campsite
09:00 a.m. - ETA at campsite
09:30 a.m. - Breakfast, wash-up
10:30 a.m. - Depart to DENR Visitor Center in Bokod, Benguet
12:00 n.n. - ETA at DENR Visitor Center Mt. Pulag registration and orientation
12:30 p.m. - Depart for Babadak Ranger Station
01:00 p.m. - Arrival at Babadak Ranger Station, secure guides, pay fees, and have lunch
02:00 p.m. - Start trek to Camp 2
05:00 p.m. - Arrival at Camp 2, set-up camp, cook dinner
06:00 p.m. - Dinner and socials
07:00 p.m. - Lights out

Day 03

03:00 a.m. - Wake up call, hot coffee/tea time
04:00 a.m. - Depart for Mt. Pulag summit for sunrise
05:30 a.m. - Arrival at summit, wait for sunrise
07:00 a.m. - Depart back for camp site
08:00 a.m. - Arrival at camp site, breakfast, break camp
10:00 a.m. - Descend Ranger Station
12:00 n.n. - Arrival at ranger station, have lunch
01:00 p.m. - Depart for DENR Visitor Center Mt. Pulag for log-out
02:30 p.m. - Depart Back to Baguio City
04:30 p.m. - ETA: Baguio City

You can also opt to do Luzon 3-2-1 (Mt. Timbak, Mt. Tabayoc, and Mt. Pulag) climb with trip to the Four Lakes, if you have 4-5 days to spare: climb Mt. Timbak on the first day, assault Mt. Tabayoc on the second day, trek Tabeyo (4 Lakes) Trail on the third day, ascend Mt. Pulag on the fourth day, and descend on the last day.

Sample expenses

The below rates are estimated expenses if you want to do the Tabeyo (Four Lakes) Trail and include Mt. Tabayoc. Here's a projected budget if you will be doing it solo:
Sample D.I.Y. Solo Mt. Tabayoc and Four Lakes 3-Day Expenses
Taxi Fare to Slaughterhouse Terminal (per ride) P 150.00
RT Bus Fare from Slaughterhouse to Poblacion Central Kabayan (P150 each way/person) P 300.00
RT Habal-habal Fare to/from Poblacion Central Kabayan-Lake Tabeo Campsite (P250 each way/person) P 500.00
Kabayan LGU/Heritage/Environmental Fee** (per person) P 150.00
Entrance Fee in Ballay (per person) P 175.00
Camping Fee in Ballay (per person) P 100.00
Guide Fee for Tabeyo/Four Lakes Trail (per 1-5 persons) P 500.00
Guide Fee for Mt. Tabayoc Trail (per 1-5 persons) P 1,000.00
TOTAL P 2,875.00

  • NOTE: The above rates does not include airfares, transportations from Manila-Baguio-Manila, food, and other expenses not mentioned above.
  • NOTE: If your're travelling with a group, you can split the tour guide fees and porter fees with each other to lessen travel expenses.
  • NOTE: Any rates shown in this posts are subject to change with/without prior notice.

Here are other sample D.I.Y expenses (for a solo traveller and with a group of 5):
  • D.I.Y. Solo Four Lakes and Mt. Tabayoc 3-day sample expenses
  • D.I.Y. Luzon 2-1 (Mt. Tabayoc and Mt. Pulag) climb and Four Lakes 3-day sample expenses

Other useful information:

** LGU/Environmental/Heritage Fee is to be paid only once for the whole duration of your trip, once you have entered the Municipality of Kabayan. So if you already paid P150 for LGU/Environmental/Heritage Fee, you don't need to shed another P150 when you plan to climb Mt. Pulag via the Ambangeg Trail. Or if you already paid for it in Mt. Pulag (Ambangeg), then you don't need to pay the said fee in Ballay anymore. Just make sure to keep the receipt with you at all times.

In our case, we already paid the LGU Heritage Fee in Ballay and when we went to Babadak Ranger Station (Mt. Pulag - Ambangeg), we were charged twice. I just showed them the receipt that we already paid for it when we were in Ballay and the officer lady-in-charge gladly refunded our P150 each back to us without questions asked.

The verdict

Kabayan will always hold a special place in my heart as it never fails to enthral me with or without warning. The isolation, breath-taking mountain ranges, cold temperatures, and unspoilt nirvana of Kabayan makes every single cell of my body wanting for more, wanting to come back over and over again.

Feel free to tweak the above itinerary and add my other activity suggestions in order to make your trip shorter or longer to fit you travel style.

What do you think of the Four Lakes of Kabayan? Do you want to go here? Or have you been here? Did I miss something? I love to hear your thoughts in the comment box below.

Want to read more of my "First-Timer's Guide" series?

1 comment

  1. we visited lake tabeo in 2018, and we are so speechless about the peace and beauty it displays. a must go-to destination for anyone searching for a good camping place.


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