The ultimate adventure that one should not miss in Sagada is exploring the caves. For 400 pesos you can explore the caves with a guide. Depending on your phase, you can finish the adventure in 3 hours. In our case, we did 5 . :) Be careful as most of the rocks are slippery. Having the right gears will help you. In my case, I prefer caving on foot to have some grip on the rocks.
It is very cold inside and when it rains, it can be very dangerous.
Early people believe that we came from the nature and if one dies, you should be return to the nature. This is the reason why they hang their coffins - believing that the higher the coffins were hanged, the closer they are to the nature.
This one caught us by surprise as we really didn't expect that Sagada will give us this treat before going home. The sea of cloud is one of the most sought after view in Sagada and catching it needs luck. As told by our guide, the sea of cloud doesn't happen everyday so it makes it more special when you do catch it.
If you have time, you can try to catch the view at Kiltepan
The most ideal activity in Sagada is to join their Echo Tour. This tour will cover all the tourist attractions in Sagada starting with Mary the Virgin Church and will end at Bokong Falls. This is ideal for first time hikers as the trail is pretty easy. I remember my grandmother of 70 years outdoing all of us--even the kids!
Go to Sagada town hall and ask for the guided tour. Price range differs according to your choice of sights to see.
I told myself that I'll give an honest to goodness review of this activity right after I exited that cave, so here goes...
Sumaging cave has five levels, The first level was the easiest since it only requires you to go down the steps to the entrance of the cave. The second level for me was the most difficult because in this part, you will be engulfed in darkness and you have to crawl in a mixture of mud/bat dung/urine while trying to balance from slippery rocks. One mistake could make you fall down the ravine with more rocks. After that grueling part, the next level will test your agility, flexibily, balance and imagination. Sure the rock formations are pretty, but honestly, you won't appreciate it that much since you're too busy trying not to break your neck or fall into a hole or something.
The last level of the cave is where your guide will hang from the wall and your only means of getting down is his arms. Other family members already declined but not me. I won't forgive myself if I wouldn't see that last level, so with a couple of cousins, we went--and thank goodness we weren't disappointed.
All in all, spelunking in Sumaging is one difficult task. If you are in Sagada this is a must because, this is pretty much the main attraction there so don't miss this. Just be prepared for the body ache the next day.
After walking around the sun, the trip to the Bokong falls was a good idea. My Dad, brother, niece, cousins, and aunts all jumped to that ice cold water of 12 feet deep. I wasn't in the mood to get wet so I just took pictures.
To reach the falls, you will pass through great looking terreces then go down to the side of a hill. Caution is needed because a small slip could get you rolling down the deep--er Hill haha!
According to Sagada's tradition, the natives bury their dead in high places because they believe that this will help their dead reach heaven easily. This particular spot was just a small portion of this traditon, according to our guide there are other places where you could see hanging coffins and true enough, the other side of that particular mountain has other coffins crammed to its nook.
One of our questions to our guide was how did they manage to get those coffins up there. Well, according to them, the natives will prepare the coffin first with the help of ropes and ladders if possible followed by the corpse.
Personaly, I think it's macabre to take pictures with coffins, but hey! That's what tourists do right? hahaha!
After passing through the cemetery, the trail will bring you to what the locals call the Echo Valley. Why echo valley? From the name itself, this is the spot where you could shout your name and the mountains will reverberate it to you. The view was stunning but the trail was a little bit hard for me. I didn't get to shout much because I was too busy watching my step and encouraging my mom to go on...Hahaha!
By tradition, natives of Sagada and the surrounding places in Cordillera does not bury their dead in the cemetery. Most of them bury their dead in their own back yard in the belief that their dead will watch over them and their house, so don't be surprised to see white tombs beside their houses.
However, those who were chistened bury their dead in the cemetery like what you will pass by on your way to Echo Valley. Upon closer inspection, we saw small bonfires at the tombs here. From what I can remember, our guide told us that they do this to keep their dead warm.
Our guide told us that the best sunsets can be seen at the peak near Lake Danum. However, we were late and the cloud started covering the sunsent so we just settled for the Lake Danum view.
It is a placid kinda eerie lake...so, my best tip would be, to go there early to check out the sunset, but if you think you won't make it or it's too foggy, you can skip this one.
On our way to Danum lake, our guide offered to take us to one of the local potters in the area. The lady in there explained the local clay that they were using and demonstrated how to make a vase. We almost sang "Unchained Melody" during that part hahaha!
If you're interested, you can ask your guide to take you here. They also sell their finished products at their shop below their work area.
Given that this is the first stop on our walking tour, You'll never miss this church as this is at the center of the town. It is surrounded by lush green fields and pine trees. The church itself is very photogenic.
This activity will take for about 3 hours depending on the participants physical ability. The not so good part is that there will be no wild horses to be seen. Unlike in Batanes....
Fee: Php 600.00 up to 10 visitors*
Mt. Ampacao Traverse: You will make a loop hike froim town center to Lake danum view point up to Mt. Ampacao and down to Demang Vilage or Ambasing vice versa. This will take 3 hours depending on the physical ability of the partici[ants. (as per the flyer given by Sagada tourist Center)
fee: Php 800.00 up to 10 visitors*
This can be done anytime between 7:00 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon. You start the caving activity at the opening of the Lumiang/Burial cave which is about 40 minute-walk from the town center. The actual opening is deceptively small and anarrow enough to fit one person. The passage will lead you down to some awesome rock formations. Moisture is aways present on this rocks. there are built-in ropes with knots conveniently spaced with the guides assisting you even offering their shoulder as a human step tool.You have to swimin some parts of the exploration, but you can skip this by passing thru another route using a rope to support you in manuevring down. This exploration will last 3-4 hours still depends on the physical abilities of the participant. You will exit at Sumaging cave/Big cave.
(*) based on the flyer given at the Sagada tourist Information Center
fee: Php 400 every visitor and another Php 400.00 if you chose a transportation*