- be prepared to get wet...stick to mojos/no rubber shoes...wear swimsuit underneath shorts
- bring flash light even though guides carry gas lamps
- getting down to the main caverns is a treacherous negotion of slippery, bat dung-covered mud path. tip: keep butt closer to the ground and use hands for more grip (never mind bat dung)
- highlights and foto ops: at some point you'll have to rapell up/down a 4m high wall; then you'll crawl through tight spaces and wade through waist-deep freezing water ...check out the interesting stalactite formations and don't forget to SMILE =)
For cameras with super optical zoom or binocs, there is a great viewpoint just behind the cemetary. If you wanna see them upclose (Jo: "and get really creeped out"), ask your guide to bring to the burial cave, which is on your way back to Sagada town from Sumaging.
If you have 4-5hrs to spare (Jo: "and lots of energy or somebody useful like Marc who will offer free piggy back rides"), this is definitely worth the ardorous hike on a steep mountain-side path and through the rice paddies. (Marc: "freezing swim for the brave...also makes good foto ops")
St. Mary's Church:
With all the risky (and rewarding) adventures...say your prayers!!! =)
Travellers should not miss to explore the big cave where you can find limestone created by nature. Spend half-day and never go alone! Hire a guide to lead you to the lower tunnel since local guides are equipped with lanterns and ropes necessary for your under-tunnel journey. It could be a scary task for some visitors but it is definitely an experience of a lifetime.
Guide fee- around PhP 250 - PhP 350/head
Gas lamp - Php 50
This is a good 30-45 minutes relaxed walk from the center of Sagada town. You can also drive there (10min. max). The road up to Kiltepan Tower is lined with tall pine trees so that the wind is scented with the smell of pine. The tower itself is in ruins and overgrown with brambles but the clearing surrounding the tower is a good site for overnight camping (better as the tourism office for permission before you do that though).
At the back of the Tower is a narrow path that will lead you to a small open area where you can view the amazing vista of mountains upon mountains surrounding a bowl of terraces. Stunning! Worth the sweat and dust of the hike.
Bring water with you. You will need it. ;D
Going to Bomod-ok Falls is a test of endurance. From the top, it is hundreds of steps down to the falls, passing through rice terraces and a small village. Going up is even more difficult (guess, no need to explain why) that we had to rest several times. What took us 1 hour going down, took us twice as long going back.
But I tell you, the trip is very much worth it, especially in the late afternoon when the sun was about to set. I went as near to the falls as I can, slipping over hard rocks many times, getting myself all wet (grrr, the water was cold).
Hanging coffins can be found in Echo Valley. As a tradition hundred of years ago, their ancestors where buried in caves, piled neatly and some were suspended on the steep cliff wall.
Travellers can visit this place but since it is a sacred place for locals, respect the dead bodies and do not take bones scattered near the cave as souvenirs.
I would suggest to hire a guide! I still remember that when were about to return, my Japanese friend together with other travellers lost for almost 3 hours because we could'nt locate our point of origin.
Huh, an eerie experience 'coz after I took camshots of the bones and caskets hanged, our trail going home can't be reached at all. It seems that the spirits direct us to a wrong path!!!
Sumaguing is the most accessible and widely visited cave in Sagada. It takes 1.5 hours to tour the cave. Again, it is also a test of your strength and sense of adventurism.
Near the cave entrance are bats, and of course, bat dung. In fact, the rocks were slippery due to bat dung. It is advisable to walk barefoot to avoid slipping. Different rock formations, stalagmites, and stalactites can be seen inside.
There is cold, running water and be prepared to get wet. At some points, I had to glide and rapel using ropes. Guide is a must here, because they have gas lamps and they know every nook and cranny. I wouldn't relish getting lost inside.
This is only about 20 minutes walk from the Town Hall, but you need a guide, so you have to go to the town hall to register yourself, get a guide to off you go. A short 20 minutes walk passing very beautiful scenery of jagged rocks, terraced hill slopes, hanging coffins and tall pine trees before you come to the steps leading down to the Cave.
The guide will now lead holding a powerful keroscene litted lamp above his head. You have to watch your steps very carefully as it is so easy to slip as "rocks + water = slippery". You keep on descending until to a point where the guide will tell you to take off your shoes and leave them around and carry on barefooted. You are now in sandstone territory and thus will not slip even in the presence of water.
Time and again, the guide will assist you in getting up or down difficult rocks formations, you cross to different pools. You will get wet - how wet you will get depends on how far deep into the cave you want to go. I know some went to the extreme and took a swim there. It is very beautiful inside the cave and nothing better than to illustrate it with photos . . so please see the photos attached.
Warning tip : As you descend, especially the earlier part, you will need both hands to balance or hold on to some rocks; so it is not advisable for you to hold a torch. The guide can probably close his eyes and still manage to move around, but you the tourist, the first timer here is totally unaccustom to the Cave. You will need both hands, so get one of those headlights. I picked up a good one from Robinson Manila for 350 peso.
Warning tip : As you will be using both hands, note that some of the rocks are very sharp and will cut your hand, so wear a pair of good leather gloves. Believe me, this will be one of the most important packing list to you.
Visiting Lumiang Cave was a spur of the moment decision. Walking back to Poblacion from Sumaguing Cave, our tour group decided to take a rest at the roadside, leaning on the rail to look at the rocks below. That was when we noticed the "coffin formation" at the entrance of the cave. We convinced our guide to allow us to go down the narrow, steep and slippery foot path to have a closer view of the coffins.
Judging from the color and state of decay of the wood, the coffins are old. The coffins were placed on top or adjacent to each other in no specific pattern, as if a coffin was placed wherever there is a space where it could fit in.
However, I think that's what made them unique and appealing to the tourists.
Visit the Echo Valley where the most visible hanging coffins can be found. I was under the impression that this method of "interring" the dead was practiced years ago, but was surprised to find out from my guide that the last coffin "hanged" was in 2003.
Upon entering the churchyard, you can find the oldest and first bell in Sagada. There is also a foot trail that leads to the school, cemetery, and valley. Inside the church, the altar is simply built, but one can feel the tranquility of the place.
Take a jeep to Bangaan then hike down to Bomod-ok Falls. It takes about 30 minutes to hike to the village.
Register at the blue house and pay the fee.
Take a guide with you to save time and to avoid getting lost. P120 will get you the services of 3 kids.
Pay them when you are ready to go back up so they won’t leave you behind.
Bring your lunch with you so you won’t have to hurry back.
The water in the pool is cold but a dip is a MUST.
Be prepared for a hard climb back up to the jeepney station.
Take a jeepney ride to Bontoc. Ride up the top-load for a more exciting ride.
Get off near the Market to walk down to the river and cross the Hanging Bridge.
Walk up to the top level of the mini-rice terraces, there's a lot of photo opportunities up there.You might be lucky enough to watch a carabao climbing up the terraces!!!
Take a tricycle ride to the Bontoc Museum.
Have early lunch in town.
Don?t be surprised if the proprietor offers you dog meat as it?s considered to be a delicacy up there! Don?t be surprised to have flies dive-bombing into your meal!!! UGH!!!
In my April 2012 visit, I was greeted with the story of a group of certain volunteer environmental organization being saddened by the unjust interference of dirty politics into their organization. And to add to that, the members are devastated to find out that their noble contributions to the environment and the community as well, is not given the due value and respect by the authorities. Their rules/standards that have been in practice for more than a decade now for the safety of the visitors are being taken for granted. By the way, the visitor’s registration fee has been increased from Php25.00 to Php35.00 now.
During peak season, particularly, the period of Holy Week where thousands of visitors flock to this place, there is overcrowding inside the caves, thus making the adventure less enjoyable. No more leisure walks in a street leading to the caves due to the suffocating smoke from all types of vehicle that they allow to pass thru… damned traffic jam!
People are praying that Sagada will never be another disastrous Baguio City. And people are hoping that such ungrateful attitudes would not lead to the environmental deterioration of this lovely place we fondly call Shang-rila.
The first time I came to Sagada, this activity was actually not in my itinerary because I traveled alone then and so I was afraid. I didn't know before that joining a group was the alternative. And so when I was informed of this, I did. The group I joined in was heaven-sent. I was not a VT member yet at that time, and I didn't know that one of our tour guides was a member (waan04). I only found this out when I returned to Manila, that was, when I went back browsing VT again and decided to sign up already so I could share my experiences.
My second visit to this cave seemed less challenging already, but the excitement felt just like the first time I did. I mean, who would get tired seeing those amazing limestone formations and the adventure itself. If given the chance, I'd love to do this activity again.
Exploring and conquering Sumaging Cave will make your stay in Sagada complete. This is the ultimate experience you'll get in this tiny town.
Note: This itinerary was based on a first hand experience made by a lady during her stay in SAGADA. Sheena May Anonuevo nearly visited the whole of SAGADAs tourist spots.
this was her itinerary.
Day 1/2. lolzzz.
7:00 - arrival
>>> - dinner then rest
>>> - if you arrived earlier, you can book your hotel if you did not reserve any and visit the tourist information center located at the municipal hall.
7:30 or 9:30 - Caving
>>>> after caving comes lunch. quick lunch
1:30 - the following were sights visited.
>>> - Kiltepan Rice Terraces
>>> - Bokong Falls
>>> - Sagada Pottery
>>> - Lake danum
5:30 - 6:00 stay at lake danum for Sunset Veiwing. if you have luck. most days are foggy.. hehehe.
6:30 - onward DINNER
night lives are limited to bar hopping, sing alongs and bonfires only.
Day 2. HIKING ADVENTURE
7:30 - Trek to the BIGFALLS - you could also bring your vehicle but for a short distance only. i mean you will do some hiking anyway
12:00 - LUNCH
1:30 - ECHO VALLEY and UNDERGROUND RIVER trek, after that, you would pass by the SAGADA WEAVING.
3:30 - picture taking at the SAINT MARY THE VIRGIN church
4:30 - souvenir shopping..
>>>> - DEPARTURE >> Have a good trip...
*** instead of shopping, Sheena spent time chatting to the writer while waiting for the sun to set at lake danum, we had a glimpse of the sunset for 1 momentous minute then the fog took over "sigh". but it was fun, she loved it.. she will be back daw.. ahehhehe.. during the watch, we saw an orange ball like looking shape in the sky, SHEENA insisted that was the moon. ahehehehe
Sagada is blessed with many interesting caves (Sumaguing, Lumiang, Ambasing, etc.) and exploring them becomes the most unforgettable experience for many first time visitors. In Sumaguing Cave alone, you will see beautiful rock formations such as the brain, the king's curtain, the mini-rice terraces, etc. The SEGA (Sagada Environmental Guides Association) offers easy-to-difficult spelunking routes. The first takes 1 hour (Sumaguing Cave labyrinth only) while the latter may take 2-3 hours (interconnects several caves). I will only describe the easy route because I haven't tried the difficult one yet (Shame on me - considering I have visited Sagada 3 times already!). SEGA will not allow spelunking when it's raining hard.
The activity starts at the town hall where arrangements are made with regards to the number of guides (one for every 4-5 persons), guide fee (P600 per guide) and the start time. From here, the group will walk 30-45 minutes down to the entrance gate of Sumaguing Cave. Along the way, beautiful mountainside landscapes and rice terraces adorn your views at right.
A hundred concreted steps separate the entrance to the cave's mouth. Here is where the official spelunking activity starts. While descending from here, you will have an idea of how deep, dark and spooky the cave is. Further down when the surface becomes wet, the guide will advise everyone to leave their shoes/sandals and continue on foot instead for safety. Here is where the official agony and excitement starts. Get ready to skid on slippery rocks, literally romance the stones and dip into swimming pools up to waist high. There are much deeper swimming holes but you are not required to pass or cross them. The turning point is when you reached a relaxing and spacious section of the labyrinth. Unlike mountain-climbing, the harder part of spelunking is on the 'getting down there' than the 'getting up there'. Expect less 'skidding' and 'romancing' when you get back up to the mouth of the cave.