A Traveler’s Entry-Level Package to Surviving a Sagada, Mt. Province Trip

Impromptu adventures are my favorite! Not only do they materialize but they also have a way of surprising you about things that you didn’t think would make a difference. 

Last week was a whirlwind of unlocking new things and introductions to surreal mountains. You know, if there would ever come a time that I would finally decide to become a full-time hermit, then I would pack my bags and live in the Mountain Province. Last 2010, I had the chance to explore the southern part of Luzon and just last month I got the chance to see what is on the northern side as well. When my friend unexpectedly invited me to camp out in Sagada, my premise was it would just be chilling out, sipping coffee while enjoying the cold weather sweeping through my face. So without any hesitation I hopped on plane 2 days after with minimal sleep and wished for the best. We were only told that the “joiners package” of the Sagada Trip will take 12 hours on the road. Also we were advised to relax and make sure to get an ample amount of sleep before the excursion begins and nothing more. Little did we know that what we would be getting ourselves into would be the most exhilarating, strenuous and would require maximum strength to accomplish. 

With my experience, I would like to share with you some tips on how to survive a Sagada Tour. Because it was impromptu, this trip was the most unprepared that I got. I mean no proper ootd, gears, and essentials. Little did I know that the cold is not something to scoff at and it takes the largest willpower to climb mountains, multiple mountains! It is so ironic and conspicuous that as compulsive as I am, I went trekking wearing nothing but slippers and mountain-climbing wearing a cottony, thin maxi dress with my ever-supportive denim jacket. Fashionable huh? But oh so, very wrong in this context! Not to mention my cold feet won’t allow me to sleep in the evenings due to… you guess it, no socks!  But if there’s something that this trip taught me it would be 1.living the definition of minimalism 2. just actually being present in the moment. 

The Famous Banaue Rice Terraces

banaue rice terraces sagada tour package
Our trip started with the view of the Banaue Rice Terraces. I’ve only seen it on postcards and read it on elementary textbooks but wow, it was spectacular in person.
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There’s nothing like a fresh view in the morning at the mountain tops. Drenched with the misty morning rain.
banaue rice terraces sagada tour package
We checked in at the nearby Salt ‘n Pepper Inn and we tried the organic mountain tea served by the locals.

Sagada Mountain Province

 sagada tour package
The mundane but peaceful scenario of the mountain life is nothing grand. It doesn’t have to be. Everything exist as it is and that’s enough- for the locals, for me..
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The Sagada Neighborhood. I think this place became commercialized after the movie “That Thing Called Tadhana” was shoot in this region. After that, flocks of tourist visit the place to mend broken hearts or so they say..

Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave Connection

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The second stop of the tour was the cave connection of Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave. It’s safe to say that everyone in the group didn’t saw it coming. As resilient filipinos strucked with calamities every now and then, medium inconveniences are nothing but peanuts to us. We assumed wrong in the case of this so-called cave-trekking.

The Hanging Coffins of Sagada

sagada mountain province tour package
At the mouth of the cave were the well-known hanging coffins. Short history: Igorots in the old times used to bury their loved ones without any embalming procedures. They placed them in wooden coffins as shown in the picture, in a fetal position. It is believed that the dead should be kept with sufficient mountain air, sunlight and a peaceful laden environment, hence this kind of burial.
sagada mountain province tour package
Well, this is me in between the 5-hour cave trek. I figured I’m under a dark cave with little to no connection above ground and if something happens, I don’t have to worry about my burial because I’m already there. What we thought as a simple cave-exploration was in fact a life-threatening, amazing survivor race kind of thing!
Lumiang-Sumaguing cave connection sagada mountain province
It is no joke to strut up and down a dark cliff with no safety gears for protection. I did a job well-done of falling through a hole in between slippery stones and cracked my bottoms open. As seen in the photo, yes that’s a high cliff right there waiting to swallow us open in case we fall. So yay! to an adventure am I right?
Lumiang-Sumaguing cave connection sagada mountain province
The complete BTS and more pictures is on my facebook page

 

As soon as we finish the cave-trekking we head home to clean ourselves and eat to replenish all the courage that was stripped off from all of us. I know I live on the mountain hills of Nivelhills and mountaineering is not new to me but there was something about the Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave Connection tour that will make you stand in wonder how on earth were you able to survive the intensity of that kind of exploration. Hashtag blessed, hashtag grateful, hashtag thank you Lord!

The next day just got better? errr.. or maybe a bit more difficult level to complete? That cave trekking did us good because in a group of 14 strangers, that frightening horror of a journey bonded us altogether. It also made me happy to acquaint with witty, entertaining and merry kind of people. We laughed, we cried and we cursed our fears away for the sake of staying alive and to me, it’s a jarring but nevertheless noteworthy experience I would not have any other way with anyone else but our group. I don’t wish to meet so many people often but when I do I feel giddy that I did.

We woke up 4am the second day just to witness the “sea of clouds” in Mt. Kiltepan but turns out, due to heavy rain and super typhoon, the clouds were nowhere to be seen. Although the place is crowded with tourist expectators, at least we managed to have a good laugh about our exciting anticipations.

It was freaking cold and when it rained, it really did pour! But nothing a cup of champorado, hot coffee and a bonfire couldn’t fix.

Mt. Kiltepan Road, Sagada

Sea of clouds Mt. Kiltepan Sagada Mt. Province
walang forever?
sagada mountain province tour package
EXPECTATION: Sea of Clouds Mt. Kiltepan Road, Sagada, Mountain Province (image is google-grabbed)
sagada mountain province tour package
REALITY: We woke up 4am just to witness the sea of clouds but turns out, due to heavy rain and super typhoon, the clouds were nowhere to be seen. Although the place is crowded with tourist expectators, at least we managed to have a good laugh about our exciting anticipations.

Fidelisan Rice Terraces Trek to Bomod-oc Falls

fidelisan rice terraces trek to bomod-oc falls
Just when you think it’s over, here comes another 3-hour mountain/rice terraces trek to Bomod-oc Falls and this time it’s a downward climb on a steepy hill on a rainy day. This was the time I was wearing a slimy maxi dress 😛
fidelisan rice terraces trek to bomod-oc falls
Fidelisan rice terraces trek to bomod-oc falls which literally means “Big Falls”. It was a 200 feet high trek from the ground up to this hidden falls somewhere in the middle of Brgy. Fidelisan. The water was over 6 degrees cold, so I just stood upon a rock and lulled the cold away in silence. 
fidelisan rice terraces trek to bomod-oc falls
Wonderful. Glorious. Cold.
fidelisan rice terraces trek bomod-oc falls
You want to know a more exciting story? It’s the uphill climb back to civilization, that’s what! I had to mount a status achieved pose at Mt. Langtad (3rd stop) to commemorate my successful climb because WOW.

Mt. Pulag, Buguias Benguet

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Homeward bound via Mt. Pulag, Benguet. 
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So I get to see the Sea of Clouds after all. So yes and yes to impromptu adventures in the mountain province!

The vegetable terraces of Buguias-Natubleng in Benguet

Staircase to Heaven - the vegetable terraces of Buguias-Natubleng in Benguet.
Staircase to Heaven – the vegetable terraces of Buguias-Natubleng in Benguet. The photo doesn’t give justice to the spectacular view right in front me that time. The natives of this place have all rosy cheeks I swear! I even envy kuya waiter because his skin was better off than mine! Probably because the weather is just cool and the mountain breeze can blow all your stress away. Besides, who can get stressed out if you have a daily view like this?

Baguio City

From rice terraces in Banaue, to the vegetable terraces in Benguet to the house terraces in Baguio
Second to the last stop going home. From rice terraces in Banaue, to the vegetable terraces in Benguet to the house terraces in Baguio. Triple B!

In lieu of all the twist and turns of this trip, I would like to advise all prospect travellers to prepare yourselves mentally and physically because you might not be informed about the intensity of the strenuous activities ahead of you.

I have prepared a list of all the essential things you must bring if you don’t want to be freezing cold. To survive your Sagada Trip get ready with the following:

Sagada Essentials (Must-bring Items)

  • Hooded Jacket
  • Scarf
  • Mittens
  • Beanie hat (preferably thick and knitted)
  • Dry bag (to put your essentials while trekking and caving so that it won’t get wet because it will)
  • Sweat pants
  • Foldable umbrella (to guard yourself from sudden rainfall, it usually does especially during ber months)
  • Sport shorts (good for cave trekking and swimming in the falls)
  • Long-sleeved rash guard (good for cave trekking and swimming in the falls)
  • Strap sandal (good for cave trekking and swimming in the falls to prevent yourself from slipping easily and for easy mobility during long walks and climbs)
  • Lots of thick socks (because its cold. really, really cold!)
  • Lip balm ( don’t let the cold weather leave your lips dry and chapped. I ended up with cuts and my lips were bleeding because I wasn’t able to bring any)

 

The tour guide advised us to bring no more than 5kg worth of backpack stuff especially if you’re on a “joiners package deal”. Of course it is always convenient to leave the  unnecessary and go for what is only relevant during the trip to minimize the hassle of dragging heavy bags.

For interested travellers, I suggest to go for the Joiners Tour Packages which will cost 3,600+ for a group of 14 people.  The schedule is usually during the weekends (3D2N/pax) but it can be flexible for group tours (just click on the link I provided for further details). It can also be a chance for you to get to know other people while on tour. Just make sure to  reach out to them for a good time. It is going to be a long 12-hour ride back and forth but I assure you, more than the view, more than the food and the weather – you are going to meet far more than what you expect and engage and that would be the fulfillment of conquering your own self.

So go to the mountains! Explore nature!

When some things go wrong, take a moment to be thankful for the many things that are going right.

You can also check my video. (sorry for the low-quality upload)

 

 

 

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