Extreme Traverse Upland in the Philippines


banaue philippinesThree nights, four days exploration on mountainous Northern Philippines: Banaue – Bontoc – Sagada is one of the best ways to spend Thanksgiving Holiday with the backpackers.

Bontoc is a 3rd class municipality and the capital of Mountain Province.

Banaue is a 4th class municipality in the province of Ifugao and widely known as the site of UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Batad and Bangaan Rice Terraces which are irrigated by means of mountain streams and springs that have been tapped and channeled into canals that run downhill through the rice terraces.

Sagada is a 5th class municipality in the province of Mountain Province and famous for its “hanging coffins” – a traditional way of burying people. Not everyone qualified to be buried this way; one had to, among other things, be married and have grandchildren.

22nd of November 2012, the day that we have been waiting for. All are excited for the exploration and extreme adventures. We left Manila via Victory Liner at 8:30 AM and arrived in Solano at 7PM. When we reached Solano, we negotiated with a driver that will take us to Banaue and rent his jeepney for P2000.

It has been 15 minutes since we left Solano and we are on our way to Banaue when Andrew suddenly asked, “Ecel where is your bag?” I thought he was joking so I did not take him seriously. After awhile I realized that my bag was really missing. Whoa, I left my bag at Chowking where we had our dinner! I then request our driver to pull the jeepney because we will go back to Chowking. On our way, several questions came to my mind – what if my bag is no longer in the table where I left it, where should I buy stuff in Banaue early Friday morning? I can’t believe it, I left my bag! Is it because of excitement? Great thing, I was able to get my luggage back! After 3 hours of jeepney travel, we now feel Banaue cold air plus the warmth welcome of LJ, a newfound friend, and her family. Everything was ready when we arrived at Las Vegas Lodge and Restaurant – the room and of course the hot shower.

Bontoc was our first destination, which is along the way going to Sagada where we took pictures on rice terraces view deck. Top load should never be missed when travelling to Northern Philippines hence everyone went on top of the jeepney for a great morning ride. It was 9 in the morning however we can still feel the cold air of the North. What Sagada can offer us? A lot I believe – from foods to museums to must see spots, hanging coffins and of course, caving! We were all excited when we started moving our feet going to Lumiang and Sumaguing Caves. Nervous, might be excitement on what adventure is waiting for us inside the caves. I have not tried caving so I am not sure on what caving activity was like. I only read blogs about Sagada caving and now, I am about to try it. Rappelling, spelunking and see the beauty of the cave by means of fitting myself in a small cave openings, not challenging huh ☺. We spent 5 hours conquering Lumiang and Sumaguing Caves but I must say our extreme adventures inside was all worth it especially taking photos on every amazing angle of rock formations and stalagmites. Yes, first day of adventures – COMPLETED.

As always, backpackers were all excited for our next adventures – next stop Batad! When we are having our breakfast, LJ told us that our Sagada experience is nothing compared to Batad experience. This statement makes everyone of us more eager. Batad must-see includes rice terraces and Tappia Falls. One needs to do trekking to be able to reach the famous rice terraces and majestic Tappia Falls. It took us 7 hours of trekking (back and forth) to feel Batad extra challenge. We got a chance to experience vegetable, corned beef, tuna and cheese Batad pizzas. On our way to the hotel, everyone is screaming, “We deserve a grand dinner!” Happily, wish granted.

Our last day activities were very light. It includes little trekking to experience hot and cold springs and visit to Hiwang village.

Bontoc-Sagada-Banaue extreme adventure was another unforgettable moment in backpackers’ life. I was smiling when Toy and Novel, two new members suddenly asked me, “Ecel did we passed the initiation process of becoming a backpackers?” I immediately replied, “Yes, you guys passed! Congratulations and welcome to backpackers’ world!”

As what Saint Augustine said: “The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Keep travelling backpackers – continue being an adventurer, an extreme traveler. Live life to the fullest!!!

Travel. Adventure. Live. Extreme.

About the Author:  I am Licelyn Labrador, a sporty chic, who has passion for exploration and loves sharing my experiences through writing to inspire other people.

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