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Friday, October 12

Planning a Road Trip to Ambuklao

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This green mini water lake was created by the spill side of the Ambuklao Dam near the spillway. (Ambuklao, Bokod, Benguet)

Ambuklao (or Ambuclao as others spell it) is a barangay in Bokod, Benguet, a town situated about one to one and a half hour from the city center of Baguio. It is mountainous over Ambuklao, and somewhere over the mountains a crafted lake was formed sometime in the 1950s. With a depth of more than 750 meters, the Ambuklao Dam serves as an energy source in the island of Luzon. This dam about 36 kilometers northeast of Baguio City is slowly becoming popular because of its manmade scenic view.

Part 1 of Lost in Ambuklao! (A Benguet Dam Story)

If you plan a road trip to this part in Bokod, Benguet, these are a handful of tips that you may want to consider when you visit the scenic views of Ambuklao.
Flowers wildly growing in Ambuklao

THE TOUR. Let’s get straight with this; Ambuklao has those scenic angles of mountains, clouds, skies and water reservoir, but those don’t add up to a full day tour (I suggest Ambuklao as a side trip only). If you are lucky to get a boatman to tour you around the reservoir (no fees when we asked a local there, but I’m not sure in the coming years), good for you, as the reservoir is wide enough to capture a bunch of moments of a “lake-mountain-sky” landscape. But in our case, we were not able to do it. Besides, Ambuklao Dam doesn’t used to be a tourist spot as of now, but it has the potential to become one in the future. The view is enough to drag tourists who are longing for this kind of wonder (even though that’s manmade). We also heard big catches from fishermen. Maybe if you can bring your own floating vest or kayak (but that is a hassle) you’ll enjoy more of it.

THE ACTIVITIES. Not much activities really. The first thing of course is to take pictures of it. Hundreds of photos of it. You may want to consider swimming, but that is not possible as swimming is strictly prohibited in the area. Boating is good if you can hire someone to do it for you (and remember about the life jacket seriously). You can do kayaking, if and only if you bring your own kayaks!

No swimming in the water reservoir please.

On your way to Ambuklao, you will pass the first bridge of the three bridges, the Adunot Bridge in Benguet.

THE TRANSPORTATION. If you happen to follow my suggestion that Ambuklao is a side trip to your very own Baguio day tour, then getting to Ambuklao is not hard enough. You’ll just have to consider some points on how to get there. To know how to go there, read “How to Go to Ambuklao Dam, Bokod, Benguet”.

This river in Benguet adds spice to the beauty of nature. Crystal clear blue waters and a backdrop of mountains.
THE ROAD. Definitely one of the “vomiting” and “nauseating” roads in Benguet. If you are a “byahilo” then you have to prepare for this. It’s not only left and right, it’s also up and down remember! But this one in Benguet is scenic too. You’ll get to see the Binga Dam, a glimpse of Mount Pulag over, over there and the clean aqua river of Agno with scenic ala-“Terabithia” scene of mountains and rivers, hanging bridges or even falls. Oh, there’s the danger too. There are “block holes”, “360 degree curves”, long sharp narrow curves and that hilarious (but terrifying) “unstable mountain slope”. It’s not just a minor landslide; it’s the whole mountain thing that went crashed down the lower grounds. If you are the driver, then be careful.

Locals use their boats to travel to the other side of the dam.
Goats can actually hike too!

THE TIME MANAGEMENT. Getting to Ambuklao from Baguio means about one and a half hour road trip. Same is through when you go back. That means you have to allot like three hours on the road. Not bad. Besides, Ambuklao tour is only good for an hour or less. But beware because if you commute to Ambuklao, chances are, you’ll have to wait for the next van in a span of 30 minutes or the bus at 2-3 PM.

THE FOOD. The food, you have to bring it. Pack your own lunch and snacks. There are sari-sari stores down the small village of Ambuklao (the other way from the spillway), but I’d rather suggest you to bring your own drinks and food.

Look at that! Ambuklao water reservoir is just that scenic.
THE BUDGET. Not much. If you ride a van on getting there, that’s P100. When you go back that’s cut to P50 (if bus, then P60). You’ll just have to allot less than P200 for the fare and if you happen to pack your food, then there will be no more expenses (unless you hire a boatman to tour you there but I do not exactly know their rates).

So there, I just presented you a simple list of things you may consider when you have your road trip to Ambuklao. Just though remember that the other things are for you to discover when you are already in Ambuklao, so go ahead and enjoy life traveling, exploring and having fun in the Philippines!

Ambuklao Dam spillway from the view deck.
*Photos were taken by Joven and Emil using Canon SX150 IS.

Lost in Ambuklao! (A Benguet Dam Story) Travel Series:
Part 1: Planning a Road Trip to Ambuklao (Tips and Guides)

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