The Cordillera region boasts numerous hiking destinations with stunning mountain views, and Maligcong in Bontoc, Mountain Province is among the must-visit places.
Scaling Mt. Kupapey in Brgy. Maligcong is considered a minor hike, but it is still important to prepare adequately for a safe trek.
Keep reading this hiking guide to Mt. Kupapey and Maligcong Rice Terraces to plan your upcoming trip to the beautiful Mountain Province.
Maligcong Green and Golden Season
Many hikers and visitors climb Mt. Kupapey to witness the stunning Maligcong Rice Terraces from its summit.
Rice planting typically begins in March, and by April to May, the seeds start to grow into lush green rice fields. The best time to visit Maligcong Rice Terraces to see the green season is during July when the fields are in full bloom.
By August, the harvesting is completed, and the succeeding months showcase the golden season of Maligcong Rice Terraces, where the dried rice fields can be seen. Both the green and golden season have their own unique appeal, and visitors can choose to witness either or both, depending on their preference and available time.
In September 2022, we were able to witness the breathtaking beauty of the rice terraces in their golden form up close.
The Hike to Mt. Kupapey
The word “Kupapey” in local terms means butterfly. There were sightings of giant butterflies before in this mountain hence the name originated.
The perfect time to hike Mt. Kupapey is during the wee hours. While it is considered a minor hike that one may reach the summit after an hour or two, it is recommended that hikers and visitors are prepared physically and mentally. The trail features towering pine trees and different flora, and a magnificent view of Maligcong Rice Terraces.
The typical commencement of the hike is at 4 AM with an estimated time to reach the summit before sunrise and if lucky, the view of the rice terraces with the sea of clouds. From homestays as the jump-off point, you will pass through a paved road crossing to the rice field. The trail is mostly flat with some gradual assault.
Along the way are some houses and rest stops then at the midway is a wide plain that could be a perfect spot for camping but is not being allowed yet by the local government of Maligcong. There are several homestays in Brgy. Maligcong so having a place to stay is not a problem at all. The homestay owner will normally assign a tour guide for you. We stayed at Vilma’s Homestay and the owner herself Nanay Vilma assigned her son, Jim as our tour guide plus their dogs Tyson and Bugtong.
Next to the plain is where the final assault starts inside the calming pine forests roughly around 20 minutes. Shortly, a path leading to the view deck is visible and the summit of Mt. Kupapey is within reach. Since the weather is a bit gloomy, we did not have the chance to see the sunrise, but still, the rain added a moody ambiance giving us a way to enjoy the scenery.
A short glimpse of the beautiful overlooking view of Maligcong Rice Terraces is worth the climb and the calming experience with our guide dogs made it even more special. From Mt. Kupapey, trekking for another hour to Mt. Fato is optional to complete the twin hike which is a normal itinerary for hikers. We decided to skip it and headed to the Maligcong Rice Terraces hoping this time to witness it up close with a better view.
Luckily, the rain stopped, and we arrived at the spot with an amazing view blanketed with fog and cold wind. We flew our drone and were stunned by its majestic view.
The rice terraces are worth the sweat and long drive from Manila especially when we heard the residents’ story prior to the climb. We learned that they’ve been planting the rice for their community and harvesting them to distribute among themselves enough to feed them until the next planting season. It’s like, what you plant is what you reap. You’ll never get hungry in the province if you work hard. You have several resources to get food and they are all around you. We were the only hikers at that time and thankful we got to witness it.
From Maligcong Rice Terraces, it took us less than thirty minutes to reach the jump-off point where the hot coffee and freshly cooked breakfast are waiting for us. After we ate, we tidied up and ready ourselves to depart before 12 noon. Going back down to Bontoc town is a beautiful overlooking spot that is totally otherworldly. It was like you are in a pre-historic era where you discovered a new civilization. Mind-blowing!
Apart from our primary goal of hiking Mt. Kupapey and experiencing the stunning Maligcong Rice Terraces up close, we were pleasantly surprised by the warm and hospitable people of Bontoc. Seeing the children playing brought back memories of my own childhood, and I was taken aback by the kindness and generosity of the locals. During a conversation with a woman, she even offered me guava fruit while sharing fascinating stories about their traditional rice cultivation techniques, passed down from their ancestors.
It’s always worth taking the time to explore the area and meet the local residents when you go on a hike or visit a new place, as you will undoubtedly learn a lot from them. The simple yet contented way of life in this breathtaking location is an eye-opener, particularly for those of us accustomed to city living. Sometimes, disconnecting from the hustle and bustle of urban life is necessary to rejuvenate your mind and embark on a new journey toward personal well-being.