Days after Christmas, I find myself in a van paving its way in Halsema Highway through the mountains of Cordillera. It is not an easy road to travel especially at night, but I guess the dark has protected me against the fear of falling in the what seems to be very deep cliffs. This goes on for five hours…
Manila to Baguio: 8PM – 1AM then Baguio to Sagada: 2AM-6AM
The road towards SAGADA itself is ragged,steep and quite dangerous, but the breathtaking views once daylight approaches combined with the heavy fog and cold breeze can calm and distract you in a good way.
All tourist need to register in the Municipal Hall. Then you will be ask to proceed in SAGGAS to get your tour guide. In every tourist spot you get to, you need to register in SAGGAS and have a tour guide with you.
This has been recently implemented by the government to organize and protect everyone. There was an incident sometime in August that led them to do this.
Day 1 has started and so we geared for the most challenging part of this trip. SPELUNKING in Sumaguing Cave!
Note: Wear leggings, dri-fit shirt and sandals. As from what I observe this seems to be the most appropriate outfit. There are 3 levels where after each one the guide will ask you If you want to proceed on the next one. Personally, I find the first level to be the most challenging of all because of the slippery stones and uneven rock formations, Stages 2 and 3 is fun because you get to walk barefoot, submerge in cold waters and slip in tight ways.(Where you enter is where you get out). So step 1,2,3 then 3,2,1… but you won’t feel too tired here because of the cold temperature inside the cave.
Check-in at: Rock Valley Inn
Every bath you take is literally an ice bucket challenge experience. Tag no one as everyone in Sagada, Mountain Province is doing the same (except if their using hot water)…
Next stop, Traveled via topload – Sagada Bonfire Festival for an entrance fee of Php 350, Sorry, but it isn’t much. I am thankful for the big bonfire that kept me warm and was comforted by the live band. that.is.it.
Ready for the next adventure: Hiking for 4 hours. Our destination: Bomod-Ok falls. Get your cameras ready especially that panorama shot because it is beautiful. Be sure to get a walking stick, It is a need and you’ll be thankful you have it when its the only thing your holding to on your way back up.
By noon, walk your way towards Echo Valley and the not to be missed Hanging Coffins. You’ll pass by St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church.
Visit their normal cemetery with a cell site that does wonders to my wifi signal, (it is a super strong and stable connection!!!) Re-enact a local film in Echo Valley or simply scream anything you want the whole place to hear. Then walk more steps below and see the historical hanging coffins above you.
Note: Be sure to cover up (socks, jacket, blanket, scarf) If you plan to see the sunrise in Kilpetan Peak to warm you. This is a hit or miss experience, so you better bring some luck too.
Random thoughts about Sagada
– Some locals speak better in English than Tagalog
– Try out the breads in Masferre, they are delicious! They also serve breakfast at Php 150.00
– Jeepney fare cost Php 20.00 per person
– Meals are quite pricey (Presyong turista)
– Famous places to eat in: Yoghurt house, salt n pepper, the sagada lemon pie house, pinikpikan house (If your going there at peak season be ready to wait and fall in line, since the places are small, and there’s too many customers to the point that they cannot accommodate anymore, or simply, there’s no food left).
– Buy your pasalubong in Benguet, the vegetables are really affordable. Pechay baguio at Php 20.00 per bundle of 3. Broccoli at Php 35.00 per kilo. Sayote at Php 20.00. Lettuce at Php 30.00 and Chicharo at Php 40.00… Get those bulalo, pancit and beeg broccoli ready…
– The hot chocolate in Ysagada is heaven!
Well, That’s SAGADA… be sure to pack lots of clothes, energy, love of nature and everything adventure. This will test your body, the extreme activities will tire you off and the cold temperature will take you to dreamland easily.
Note: Safety first! Be sure to register 🙂
FYI: We did avail a package tour for this trip. For a group of 12 at Php 3,500 / pax.
Lovin’ this year-ender trip 🙂
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