Mount Kulago

Mount Kulago: Where Dreams And Reality Merge

Where do dreams go when we wake up? Are they saved in a storage drive, waiting patiently for us to open and live them? Do some of them go to a trash bin where they will be permanently erased from our memory? These are the weird questions I asked myself while admiring the heavenly views from Mount Kulago.

When we arrived at the viewing area of Mount Kulago, I really thought I was in a dream. 

Even though it was still a little dark, I felt transported into an enchanting fairytale scene.

As dawn approached, I saw its silhouette outlined against the lightening sky. 

And it was surreal, breathtaking, and dreamy.

Mount Kulago: Where Dreams And Reality Merge

I had imagined this moment several times in the past two months. 

Each dream and imagination had the same ending: a triumphant arrival at the peak with the sun breaking the horizon, bathing the verdant landscapes in gold. 

And guess what?

This reality actually looked better than my imagination.

Mount Kulago: Where Dreams And Reality Merge

But here’s the thing.

Like my rollercoaster life, my journey to Mount Kulago didn’t follow the script I created. As I’ve said before, hikes, life, and adventures are never a straight line. Each is filled with twists, turns, and surprises.

I had two opportunities to hike Mount Kulago. 

The first attempt was unsuccessful. 

And this hike?

Well, it almost didn’t happen.

I’m glad I didn’t miss this trip because it was a journey filled with scenic views, waves of laughter, and new friends. 

Heck, I even met actors and actresses on this hike.

My Mount Kulago adventure

Day 1 at 7:03 AM: Agora in Cagayan de Oro

Time flies so fast.

If you don’t slow down or pause, you’ll miss out on many beautiful memories in your life.

The truth is, I wasn’t supposed to be here.

In the past two months, I have been busy with work and other pursuits.

But I don’t want to become a robot who works tirelessly and efficiently.

I shouldn’t forget to live while I’m busy making a living.

Plus, I wanted, even for just a day, to escape the trappings of modern life and technology.

I had to wait for around two hours before the rest of the hikers from Cebu arrived.

But that’s okay.

That’s much better than hours of non-stop binging on Netflix and Vivamax.

One Day before our Mount Kulago hike


For the second time in a row, I was bound to miss another scheduled hike in Mindanao.

With a hectic schedule, I didn’t have enough time to pack and prepare my gear for this trip.

Furthermore, I had urgent tasks to complete before the weekend.

The meet-up time was 5:30 PM at Pier Uno, Cebu City.

I couldn’t get there in time, and I likely would finish my tasks at work around 10 in the evening.

As I was replying to my boss, I knew I’d miss the boat to Cagayan de Oro.

What should I do?

Should I raise the white flag and wait for the next opportunity?

Will I ever get that chance to hike Mount Kulago again?

Then, I had a light bulb moment while saving my documents in Google Drive.

What if I book a flight to CDO?

And with a few tricks and travel hacks, I did score an affordable flight to Cagayan de Oro.

All I had to do was prepare my things and get my mind and body ready for our hike to Mount Kulago.

Day 1 at 09:42 AM

After a quick breakfast in Agora, we returned to our vans to kick-start our journey to Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.

I immediately felt comfortable with the team, especially since I’ve hiked with most of them in recent years.

The moment we stepped inside the van, I was amazed and amused by our one-of-a-kind air cooling system.

That’s a 220-volt electric fan inside a van, folks.

That’s not something you can order on Lazada, Shoppee, or even CDR-King.

How did the driver or owner create it?

I don’t know.

To me, this fan speaks volumes about the creativity and intelligence of Filipinos.

People like this deserve more love than those well-known, not-so-talented influencers who promote gambling online.

And there was another item that caught my eye: a trumpet.

Are we going to use this trumpet as our car horn?

With these unique elements and the lively people on our hike, this trip had the recipe for a memorable adventure.  

From Agora, we took a short drive to Viajero Outdoor Center and bought an array of fantastic outdoor gear.

Moments later, our journey resumed, and we were on our way to the base of Mount Kulago.

Day 1 at 12:41 PM

There was no need to rush this experience.

With plenty of free time in our flexible itinerary, we stopped by the Impasug-ong Tourism Center and snapped photos of its massive statues.

Afterward, we had lunch at local eateries and traveled to the famous Communal Ranch in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.

The Communal Ranch is a thing of beauty.

Sure, it looks slightly different from the pictures and videos I saw online.

And it’s not breathtaking and enormous as some people have described it online.

But that’s okay.

There’s nothing wrong with being imperfect. 

The problem is the toxic online culture that urges us to be perfect and happy at all times.

With its flawless facades, superior editing tools, and filters, the internet has made everyone obsessed with perfection.

It has developed a culture of perfectionism.

We no longer embrace the beauty of imperfection.

We don’t appreciate things that are unfiltered, real, and unpolished.

Why can’t we accept these places like we did with our grainy Polaroid pictures and handwritten letters before?

Do we need to compare it to other places, like New Zealand?

With everyone geared up, we began our hike to the campsite of Mount Kulago.

Mount Kulago: Where Dreams And Reality Merge

As we followed our guide on a flat surface, I was mesmerized by the natural and raw beauty of Mount Kulago.

With its rolling emerald hills and jagged hills, Mount Kulago is postcard-worthy and stunning.

Mount Kulago: Where Dreams And Reality Merge

I’ve visited many mountains across the Philippines in the past year, from Mount Amuyao to Mount Hamiguitan.

And I must say it’s one of the most impressive and stunning mountains in the Philippines.

It’s not as tall and challenging as some of the major climbs I’ve been to recently.

But beauty-wise, it’s up there with Mount Pulag.

Along the way, we took several pictures of Mount Kulago. 

Mount Kulago: Where Dreams And Reality Merge
Mount Kulago: Where Dreams And Reality Merge

It was irresistible.

I could spend hours here, just soaking up the therapeutic air and enjoying the majestic view in front of me. 

From the jump-off point (the Communal Ranch), it takes about 15 minutes to reach the river.

But why rush it?

Mount Kulago: Where Dreams And Reality Merge

Why dash like a sprinter and miss these awe-inspiring views?

Mount Kulago: Where Dreams And Reality Merge
Mount Kulago: Where Dreams And Reality Merge

Eventually, we arrived at the river bank and crossed the river via a bamboo raft.

At first, I thought we could cross the river without the raft.

But I discovered the water was too deep for anyone with a full backpack to cross it.

Soon after, we began the short ascend to the Mount Kulago campsite.

And just like earlier, we couldn’t resist pausing and admiring the gorgeous natural wonders displayed in front of us.

Day 1 at 04:35 PM: Mount Kulago campsite

The campsite in Mount Kulago is just what the doctor ordered. 

It’s therapeutic and has that friendly community vibe.

While it’s not exactly raw or rugged, it lacks the cozy amenities of a resort or hotel.

And best of all, there’s no Wi-Fi in this campsite, and we have to pretend that we’re back in the 90s.

Don’t get me wrong.

The internet and social media have done wonders for my life and career.

In fact, this Mount Kulago adventure wouldn’t have been possible if there was no social media.

But we all need and deserve a little social media detox and a break from the digital world.

As someone who spends his days inside a four-corner room working online, this setting was perfect for me.

I craved human interaction and spent a lot of time talking to my new friends on this hike.

I deeply listened to their stories and shared my thoughts.

Before stories, reels, tweets and the internet, listening was an art, and an attentive and respectful way to engage with someone.

It involves responding, understanding and hearing.

And unlike messengers, emails, and tweets, people are more sincere and respectful when talking in person.

What’s more, it improves our relationship since it shows our empathy, support, and interest.

Later on, we had a feast for dinner.

From fruit salads to tinolang chicken, we enjoyed a smorgasbord of tasty goodies.

I was loving this experience.

Though it’s not a physically demanding and challenging adventure, it’s relaxing and completely soul-satisfying.

Just what I needed to break the never-ending cycle of bills, work, and online pings.

The night was still young, and we still had one more to do before we called it a night.

Day 1 at 08:01 PM: Mount Kulago campsite

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” – Stephen King.

I’m not a big Stephen King fan, but this quote from the legendary writer is one of my absolute favorites.

Everyone has their inner demons.

Some are struggling with sickness, annulment, unemployment, bankruptcy, addiction, alcoholism, and the loss of a loved one.

And oftentimes these troubles create demons that rent free inside our head.

We call these demons depression, hatred, misery, anxiety, sadness, and melancholy.

But we can embrace these fucking monsters and use them to motivate ourselves to be better. 

We can also periodically exorcise these demons by taking breaks from the non-stop noise and bustle of modern life.

And I was doing that by participating in the camp’s nighttime festivities.

The campfire and lively tribal-inspired music fostered a laid-back and soothing environment.

Everyone was in high spirits, enjoying the friendly setting and music.

Of course, drinks were passed around the group and other groups at the campsite.

But as someone who follows a Straight Edge lifestyle, I had to resist these shots.

We ultimately ended our night early because we’d be hiking Mount Kulago early the next day.

Day 2 at 4:45 AM: The climb to the top of Mount Kulago

What the bloody fuck?

I didn’t expect this hike would challenge me and burn my leg muscles.

Although it wasn’t back-breaking and technically challenging, the seemingly endless climb did test my body.

I also had to use my mobile phone as a flashlight since my headlamp had low batteries.

And did I mention that there were a couple of roped sections on the way to the top?

Every time I deal with these challenges, I think of the storms that have passed over my head.

These storms have tried to convince me that I am living a terrible life and that I cannot overcome challenges.

Some people have failed and lived in misery because they gave up while battling their storms.

But storms don’t last forever.

They’re temporary, they will pass, and they will in the end run out of rain.

And once they leave, we have enough water to grow, survive and thrive.

I use these storms and challenges to improve and become a better version of myself.

Day 2 at 05:18 AM: Mount Kulago viewing area

On average, the climb to the top part of Mount Kulago takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours.

Aris, Jo, and I did it in 1 hour and 11 minutes.

I guess we were too excited to witness the beauty of Mount Kulago before the break of dawn.

Technically, it’s not the peak or the highest part of Mount Kulago.

But DENR doesn’t allow hikers to climb the peak of Mount Kulago.

Nevertheless, it was amazing.

And I’m glad we arrived early because Mount Kulago has a heavenly, dream-like setting at this hour of the day.

You’ll feel like you’re in another dimension when you witness the twilight hues and landscapes of Mount Kulago.

Like I’ve said, it felt like a dream.

A dream that you wouldn’t want to wake up, a dream that will forever remain in your memory.

We took pictures, and we made poses, including the Banakon pose, inspired by the smooth moves of our good friend, Rome Van Day.

Soon, the rest of the team arrived, and the fun started.

Once Borgino arrived, the energy went up a notch.

He was a director who baptized practically everyone with new names inspired by Filipino actors of the past.

Siir Bojec became Robin Da Roza, Aris became Jeric Raval, Lito became Tommy Abuel, Jo became Jamilla Obispo, and Kentoy became Jestoni Alarcon.

I wasn’t excluded from it, and also had a nickname.

Even Terrence, the person preparing our meals, wasn’t spared.

With his long hair and tattoos, Borg fittingly called him Roman Reigns, the tribal chief and a WWE superstar.

The sky was getting brighter, and Mount Kulago was bathed beautifully in amber and gold.

Mount Kulago: Where Dreams And Reality Merge

And the views?

They just got better.

The sunrise view, as Aris mentioned, had Mount Pulag feels, minus the sea of clouds.

We can’t get enough of it.

But all good things come to an end.

Mount Kulago: Where Dreams And Reality Merge

And so, we descended from Mount Kulago, to pack up, leave the campsite and say goodbye to Mount Kulago.

On the way down, we were all captivated by Bukidnon’s rolling hills, ridges, plateaus, and jagged peaks.

Mount Kulago: Where Dreams And Reality Merge


As cliche as it may sound, it definitely feels like heaven.

Mount Kulago: Where Dreams And Reality Merge

We, then, arrived at the campsite, packed up, and had breakfast.

After a quick photo, we left the campsite and hiked to the Communal Ranch.

Day 2 at 10:53 PM: The hike to the Communal Ranch 

I could feel the sun’s rays piercing through my skin.

It was scorching, and every step was tough.

After we crossed the river, the hike up seemed like a masterclass in pain and discomfort.

Some took the much more sensible route: a habal-habal ride to the Communal Ranch.

As tempting as that option was, I had to keep on climbing.

The truth is, I was also preparing my body for an upcoming major climb.

So, I used these challenges to improve my physical and mental conditioning.

And after hours of walking under the unforgiving sun, we arrived at the Communal Ranch.

Mount Kulago: Where Dreams And Reality Merge

From there, we traveled to Cedar to wash up and experience its refreshing waterfalls.

I actually passed up on the opportunity to experience the waterfalls.

It was tempting and tantalizing, but bad things happen when you swap that sizzling heat for a cold plunge.

Day 2 at 03:00 PM

Time to go home!

Relaxed and packed up, we departed from Cedar and began our journey to Cagayan de Oro.

On the way to CDO, we stopped by Sumilao Pasalubong Center, which is home to Alalum Falls.

Then, we arrived at the port, where we made final preparations before our trip back to Cebu.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. 

What about the trumpet resting peacefully inside the van?

Mount Kulago: Where Dreams And Reality Merge

As it turned out, our driver was quite the trumpet player, and he even showcased his talent to us.

As a former musician myself, I got to say it was impressive.

I roamed around the area, and was amazed by the beautiful sunset.

And that sunset was a sign that our adventure was coming to an end.

After all, sunsets epitomize endings.

But not all endings are sad.

Mount Kulago: Where Dreams And Reality Merge

Sometimes, these endings are the gateway to something even more thrilling. 

Every time the sun dips below the horizon, it’s not just saying goodbye. 

It’s also setting the stage for a brand-new adventure. 

The night might roll in, but it brings with it a sky full of stars, a fresh canvas for dreams, and the promise of a new dawn.

So, how many sunsets does it take to understand that endings can be just as beautiful as beginnings?

How tall is Mount Kulago?

Mount Kulago has an elevation of 913 meters or 2,995 feet above sea level.

How to get to Mount Kulago

The easiest and most convenient way to get to Mount Kulago is to join an organized hike. For those from Cebu, sir Bojec (AKA Robin Da Roza) of Sugbo Adventours organizes tours to Mount Kulago. For those in Mindanao, you can contact Sea and Summit Adventurers Travel and Tours.

Sample Mount Kulago itinerary 

Day 0:

  • 06:00 PM: Meet-up at Pier 1 in Cebu
  • 07:00 PM: ETD to CDO via ferry 

Day 1: 

  • 08:00 AM: Breakfast at Agora in CDO
  • 09:00 AM: Quick visit to Viajero
  • 10:00 AM: ETD to Impasug-ong (Stopover for lunch)
  • 12:00 PM: Communal Ranch 
  • 01:30 PM: Start hike to the campsite
  • 03:30 PM: ETA Campsite/pitch tent 
  • 06:00 PM: Dinner 
  • 08:00 PM: Socials

Day 2: 

  • 03:00 AM: Wake-up call (coffee)
  • 04:00 AM: Start hike to Mount Kulago summit
  • 05:45 AM: Mount Kulago peak (picture)
  • 07:30 AM: Back to the campsite 
  • 09:00 AM: Breakcamp and breakfast
  • 10:30 AM: Back to the ranch and proceed to Cedar Falls
  • 02:30 PM: Back to CDO 
  • 04:00 PM: ETA CDO pier (secure dinner) 
  • 06:00 PM: Board CDO to Cebu

Aldrich Infantado is a travel junkie and a writing aficionado who loves to share amazing travel tips to his fellow travelers.

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