This tour covered three provinces, namely: Ifugao, Mountain Province and Benguet. Lagawe and Banaue are situated in the Ifugao Province; Bay-yo Rice Terraces, Bontoc Museum, Sagada, Bauko are part of the Mountain Province; and Brgy. Cattubo (for the Highest Point of the Philippine Highway System), La Trinidad Valley and Baguio are part of Benguet Province.
The trip starts with a an overnight road trip leaving Manila at 9:00 P.M. boarding an 18-seater coaster and stop at Lagawe Viewdeck for a picture taking, the entry point to the Province of Ifugao.
We arrived in Banaue at around 7:00 A.M. the following day just timely for breakfast. We stayed in Uyami’s Greenview Lodge and Restaurant for breakfast located in Poblacion
There are few hotels and inns in Banaue with restaurants serving delectable meals of your choice whether local cuisine, Oriental, American, Italian or simply quick-serving orders. As the tour coordinator, I am taking you to the best restaurant overlooking the scenic Banaue Rice Terraces while eating your breakfast.
If you are in a chartered transport, it is possible to stop from one point to another and presto, you can stop in the Mountain Province marker.
Mount Polis is at the boundary of Mountain Province and Ifugao. Mt. Polis has an elevation of 2,255 meters (7,398 feet) summit on the south side of the highest point. The provincial boundary is at the highest point. This Mount Polis should not be mistaken for another Mount Polis which is popular with mountaineers near Sagada in the Mountain Province. Aside from the statue of the Virgin Mary, there are cellular site towers next to the statue but I intended to get an angle photo where the communication towers are not seen. Other than that,there is nothing spectacular about the place. It is a usual thriving community of the locals engaged in some economic activities, then you can buy cheaper vegetables and fruits here. But what makes this place interesting is the ever changing weather conditions and the people living on it.
Guests should not miss to stop in this point where the Bay-yo Rice Terraces can be viewed on its full glory and splendor.
It has to be noted that Bontoc Museum was founded by a Belgian nun to preserve the history and heritage of the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera region. Its collections includes traditional costumes, hunting and farming tools, and turn-of-the-century photographs of the Ifugao, headhunter warriors and their prizes, and American missionaries trying to convert the natives. Also on display are centuries-old Chinese ceramics and archeological objects found in Cordillera caves. It has to be noted also that Mountain Province is a part of the Cordillera Administration Region (CAR).
The museum building is patterned after a traditional Ifugao house, with furniture and household implements. At the back of the museum is a replica of an Ifugao village, including stone shelters known as ilis.
There is an entrance fee of P65 for guests wherein it is open for public viewing from Monday to Saturday from 8:00 A.M to 5:00 P.M. and during Sunday it only opens at 3:30 till 5:00 P.M.
We drove further passing through picturesque mountain slopes in soaring high elevation with terraces as the most dominant scenery. Pine trees along the road became more visible and increase in number as we approach the enchanting Sagada. We left the windows of our van open to refresh us from such a clean and cool air around us. Driving from Bontoc to Sagada is approximately 40 minutes. We arrived in Sagada at 11:00 A.M.
Since it was almost lunchtime when we arrived in Sagada, we let our guests to freely roam around the place for a feel of what it is to be in the coolest place in the Philippines. Meals are not included in the tour package but the accommodation or hotel is included.
Sagada is a fifth class municipality in the province of Mountain Province. It is located 275 kilometres (171 mi) north of Manila (taking at least 12 to 15 hours by bus), 140 kilometres (87 mi) from Baguio, and it is adjacent to Bontoc, the provincial capital.
What makes Sagada cold is its elevation wherein its average elevation is 1,523 meters or 4,997 feet above sea level. It has a lot of pine trees that makes its environs cooler. Though Baguio City has an elevation of 5,050 feet above sea level, it is no longer cold as it has been reclaimed by houses and subdivisions and its pine trees were replaced by houses and other developmental structures.
To have an ample time before lunch, we can accompany our guests to the Echo Valley where we have to pass thru Sagada Saint Mary's Episcopal Church, the Calvary Hills, then its public cemetery and back to the hotel.
The Echo Valley has such a breathtaking scenery with stiff limestone cliffs and thickly grown with pine trees. What adds up the bonus is the fact that Sagada town can be viewed on it.
Your Sagada tour will not be complete if you have not visited the Sagada Weaving House. There guests can see how the cloth weaving is being done. Finished products can be bought there.
After lunch, the touring can resume from viewing first the hanging coffins, then, trek down to the Lumiang Burial Cave. Aside from my presence as the trip coordinator, we also have an experienced local guide to accompany us within Sagada.
The local guide will explain the history and background of this practice of burying the dead locals inside this cave.
Sumaguing Cave is also known as the Big Cave, it is a must-see destination in Sagada with multi-chambered formation showcasing awesome stalagmite and stalactite formations. Guests do not have to worry for spelunking in this cave are good for both budding and professional spelunkers. You will be safe from the hands of your expert local guides. There is a required ratio of the guests per guide to ensure safety. For a group of 15, three guides are required. Guides will even coach guests in their footsteps to make them safe while they enjoy the wet cave. I find Esam Wangdali, a 6-foot Jewish-Filipino local guide very dependable. Ready yourself for a dip since there is a crystal-clear cold pond inside the cave. There are also resident bats inside the cave but they are harmless. It is truly amazing inside the cave. It is so beautiful and this is the place where you will thank God for His mighty creation.
Rock formations inside Sumaguing Cave are like masterpieces of carvings where it shows various figures of humans and animals.
There is a certain point in the cave where guests have to remove their footwear and they have to walk over on massive flat smooth rocks so sole-friendly and therapeutic
For beginners, they may find it extreme to climb massive rock walls but with the expertise of the guides, you may find it even exciting and fulfilling that once in your life, you did something extreme.
Very few try to reach this point where you have to be in a deep pool with very cold water and dip into it. There is no way out but to dive and cross thru swimming to the other side to return towards the exit point.
Spelunking is really tough but with the guide in the person of Esam, things will be much easier and comforting. My tour operator has Esam as one of the guides inside Sumaguing Cave.
Since it will take you around two hours in Sumaguing spelunking, it is almost late afternoon that you have the chance to go back to your hotel for a clean-up. This is just timely for the guests to have a 20-minute drive to Lake Danum passing through a dusty road. If time still permits, nearby cliff for five minutes drive further is a sunset viewing area.
The lush green lakebanks of Lake Danum allows guests to camp and even play ball games. The place is normally cold starting late in the afternoon and fogs besiege the place.
There are many restaurants that tourists and guests can choose from and I normally take my guests for dinner in the Yoghurt House. In order not to be disappointed, do have a reservation if you want to dine in here in the Yoghurt House for any meal. If you want to try other restaurants, then you might find this link useful in your search for other options to eat in Sagada.
We let our guests start their second day by having a 25-minute drive leading to Bomod-ok. it is such a refreshing drive experiencing the lush green countryside. The registration and environmental fee is already arranged by us. Then, the 1-hour trekking along Bomod-ok Rice Terraces follows.
Though the place is worth an hour trekking, still the place is crowded with tourists excited to enjoy its cold water and majestic scenery.
There is so much space for families and big groups to swim in Bomod-ok Water Falls. Daring guests can climb the walls so that they can dive. If you wish to come closer to the cascading falls, it is also possible since there is a rope that you can hold on to.
Bomod-ok Water Falls is such a rewarding experience. It is very inviting to swim there. There are many local kids there who enterprisingly offer a relaxing stick massage but with no fixed service fee.
Guests should bring with them water for trekking going to Bomod-ok Water Falls and snacks. But there are roving food vendors selling local food delicacies there including bottled water.
After a refreshing swim, guests can avail of the massage from the local kids roaming around with no fixed rate. If you opt to give a big amount, then that would be okey.
After enjoying the refreshing bath in the water falls, guests will trek back uphill where the service vehicle is parked. It is a huge covered court which partly served as the parking lot. There are so many food vendors including the refreshing buco and fruit drink and salad. Delicious corn are being sold as well as the huge menstrual red water melons "pakwan". Then back to the hotel for clean-up and rest. By the way, you can also buy sweet and fresh strawberries in Sagada Public Market.
The following day at early dawn has a wake-up call at 3:00 A.M. to capture the Keltipan Sunrise. It is a 40-minute drive away from the town proper.
Our group was so excited for the Kiltepan sunrise viewing. The piercing cold still seeped into our rooms as we woke up. Though it was cold at the Kiltepan after chilling drive, the cold slow felt thin as temperature heats up as we hike towards the viewdeck and joined other tourists all excited what is to unfold in a short moment.
Just to give you an idea of what is a Kiltepan Sunrise, I am giving you a picture taken by a professional photographer through the courtesy of Sagada Org Webpage as shown above.
As the sea of clouds became visible to our naked eyes as complemented with the increasing hue of light of gleaming sunrise, tourists were busy looking for the best angle to capture the best postcard-perfect picture.
In the picture above are three of the school principals of the Division of City Schools of Mandaluyong, namely: Mrs. Ellalyn A. Abutal of Dona Pilar Gonzaga Elementary School (DPGES), Dr. Nimfa A. Matabang of the Pleasant Hills Elementary School (PHES) and Mrs. Lucia M. Llego of Filemon P. Javier Elementary School (FPJES)
Traveling from Sagada to Baguio is never a boring one as you will pass through scenic mountain slopes planted with vegetables and flowers, deep gorges, towering limestone walls, terraced-hill sides and a close encounter with the village people but what is more rewarding is when you stop at Barangay Cattubo in the town of Atok in the province of Benguet to stand on point considered to be the highest point at 7,400 feet of the Philippine Highway System.
After the Keltipan sunrise, guests are back to the hotel for breakfast and leaves Sagada heading to La Trinidad Valley of Benguet. it is approximately a 7-hour drive but dramatic mountain slopes are so rewarding for photographers delight. The Sabangan Viewpoint is just so magnificent. So, don't keep your camera and be awake for the whole duration of the trip so nothing escapes your feasting eyes. Guests can have the option to pick strawberries and fill their baskets or just buy the strawberry-packed baskets. It is advisable that lunch should be done here.
From La Trinidad Valley, route will be heading for Baguio City for a 20-minute drive. Though, Baguio is not a part of the trip package, guests can request to have a stop in the Lion's Head for a picture taking. We are actually passing through Baguio City before starting a 6 or 7-hour drive going back to Manila. And as a consolation, since guests are having a chartered transport, they can stop in any point in Baguio or La Trinidad to buy cheaper but fresh vegetables and fruits.
So, if you want to have a worry-free Sagada-Banaue-Bontoc-Benguet Trip Package, just contact me through my mobile number at 09176349725 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will coordinate it with my friend tour operator in the name of Mrs. Cherry Abad or you may contact her directly in her mobile number at 09178537561 or email address at email@example.com. They can be reached in Sagada through their BIAG'S MARK SHOP.
The tour package costs P4,250 tour package or may vary depending if it is a peak or lean-season and it includes: (1) transportation Manila-Sagada-Benguet-Manila with private van and tour coordinator; (2) two-night accommodation in Sagada Guesthouse; (3) Sagada Binocular souvenir; (4) rides for all the tours; (5) DOT accredited guide for all the tours; and (6) environmental fee/guide fees/entrance fees and permits. Food is for the account of the guest. A meal ranges from P90 to P120. Fresh vegetables and meat are served with organic rice. Bars and night spots are also available in Sagada. It is advisable that trekking sandals and shorts should be worn for the spelunking experience in Sumaguing Cave.