Sagada , A Backpacker’s Paradise

One of the best Backpacking adventure I’ve had was exploring Sagada in the region of Mountain Province . Only with a backpack and full adventurous spirit, we set  off to a steep journey up north. The narrow road going to Sagada is enough to make you feel sick. All through out the journey I was afraid to look outside the window because I can almost see the cliffs ! Upon reaching our destination, I came to see a different world up there in the mountains.

Let me tell you why Sagada is one of the trips in the north of Philippines that you should’nt miss and share with you reasons why Sagada is amazing, Truly a Backpacker’s paradise .

 Take a Postcard with you of the beautiful Mountain Cliffs

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A postcard from Echo Valley in Sagada ,Philippines

Do you like the idea of waking  up in the morning with a view like this ? Up there in the mountain is a charming cottage house . When I saw this, I said to myself  that its my dream house, right at home with these lush greens, with majestic views of the Cordillera mountains.

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The Green Forest with stiff limestone mountains 

Taking lazy morning treks in the Echo Valley

I showed this photo to my husband and asked him where is this place, He said to me with a smile that its in Europe. He said it looks like the mountains in Austria where He spent his childhood vacations or in the mountains in Germany .

I told him its in the Philippines and he was shocked!

Sagada is famous for its rugged mountain ranges. In earlier times, It was difficult for the Spaniards to conquer this area  because of the difficulty of terrains of the Cordillera. The province has many rivers, waterfalls, mountains, and caves. The central and western areas of the province are characterized by rugged mountains and steep cliffs, while the eastern portion has generally sloping terrain.

Learn from the past while visiting the Hanging Coffins

We were touring Sagada and exploring the Echo Valley when we saw this spot in the cliff of the mountain with the Hanging Coffins .When i first saw it, It  really looks creepy, at the same time I was curious . I have heard about it before  but I never really had an idea why people are doing this thing . We asked locals and find out something really interesting .

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One of the most common beliefs behind this practice is that moving the bodies of the dead higher up brings them closer to their ancestral spirits. The elderly feared being buried in the ground. When they died, they did not want to be buried because they knew water would eventually seep into the soil and they would quickly rot. They wanted a place where their corpse would be safe.There are two fears of being buried. The first is that dogs will eat the corpse, so the coffins are placed high up on a cliff, out of their reach. Secondly, years ago, during the headhunting days, savages from different parts of Kalinga and eastern Bontoc province  would hunt for their heads, and take them home as a trophy. That’s another reason why the dead were buried high up – so nobody could reach them.

The coffins are either tied or nailed to the sides of cliffs, and most measure only about one metre in length, as the corpse is buried in the foetal position. The Igorots believe that a person should depart the same way he entered the world.

The deceased is then placed on a wooden sangadil, or death chair, and the corpse is tied with rattan and vines, and then covered with a blanket. It is thereafter positioned facing the main door of the house for relatives to pay their respects. The cadaver is smoked to prevent fast decomposition and as a means to conceal its rotting smell. The vigil for the dead is held for a number of days, after which the corpse is removed from the death chair to be carried to the coffin. Before being taken for burial, it is secured in the foetal position, with the legs pushed up towards the chin. It is then wrapped again in a blanket and tied with rattan leaves while a small group of men chip holes into the side of the cliff to hammer in the support for the coffin.This practice is slowly fading away .Nowadays ,the natives opt to bury their dead underground.

When i visit a new place, i try to learn something about the local life of its people. This tradition is one of the distinct culture that struck me up until now.

Spelunking , Survival &  Getting lost in the dark caves of Sumaguing

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My feet in the glistening cold ice water inside the limestone cave of Sumaguing

Have you ever tried Cave Spelunking? Is the sight of waist-level water and darkness sound appealing to you? I tell you, this is one of the highlights of my travel in Sagada. Its dangerous, exhilarating, nerve-wrecking ,and at the same time exciting . Frankly speaking, this  is not for the faint- hearted .  If you have Achluophobia or Nyctophobia    or { fear of the dark } then you should think twice before you go inside this cave.

You need to get a licensed Guide to go with you to avoid any injuries or worst an accident that could leave you trapped inside. It’s no joke being trapped inside ! The rocks are rugged and sharp edges could really be dangerous. For the first timers, It is advisable to go inside with a guide to go with you through the dark trails inside.

We had our guide for this aprrox . 3 hours of spelunking. We had a short jeepney ride going to the site & quick tour of the grounds on the mouth of the cave. We wear shorts & slippers and luckily my phone survived inside the slippery, grimy, dark cave. Inside we were astonished to see various rock formations , stalactites & stalagmites , all glistening in the dark. Like golden sculptures . Being inside is like a labyrinth , you don’t know where is the end of the dark path. You need to hold on tightly on the rope & squeeze yourself to get through a small opening and using ropes to glide you down the cliffs without slipping yourself to the deep iced-cold waters inside the pools. It was so thrilling especially on the descent, and on the hard paths. Take note : You will slip, you will get wet, you might bump into the rocks. But in the end , you can say to yourself “I have survived spelunking in Sagada !”

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Inside Sumaguing Cave
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Our kerosene lamp inside the cave

As the process gets more challenging, the more the cave reveals impressive rock formations, such as the King’s Curtain, Rice Terraces,The Queen, and the huge hall called the Dancing Hall. The glassy limpid pools are also a sight to behold. Indeed ,spelunking in Sumaguing is a wonderful adventure . The good news is, the dark path has an end and finally we see the ray of light from our way outside.

Having a Feel of the cozy air of a village life

The serene view of  rice terraces fields and ardous green landscape that  surrounds the  villages in Sagada is breathtaking. The smell of pine trees is all over the place that gives you such delight. We spent the afternoon taking a lazy stroll to explore the market, the rice terraces fields and the cottage houses nearby, taking a dip in the Bomod-ok falls, the weaving factory, the pottery sites and just admire the beautifulDanum lake.

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Our trek going to the Kapay-Aw Rice Terraces
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Green landscape as seen from the rows of Pines trees
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A fine day at Lake Danum
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Tall Pine Trees on our trek to Kiltepan

During the night, Sagada changes its mood & leaves you feeling relaxed. Its  very laid back town and  quiet at night since there is a curfew around 9pm. We enjoyed a hearty meal in one of the restaurant nearby and later on we visited the Lemon house pie . The homemade lemon  pie was to die for ! I like the quaint design and genuine hospitality of this place .We had coffee with one of the locals and told us stories about the place.

Wonderful Chase of sunrise in Kiltepan Peak

We wake up around 4:30 to get ready to catch the sunrise in Kiltepan Peak. If you visit Sagada, watching the sunrise in Kiltepan peak is a must.There is a langous trek to reach the cliff where you can have a glimpse of the mountains ,villages and the rice terraces . Its worth to be waking up early because the views were amazing! My photos didn’t even do justice on this place.

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Fluffy clouds covered the mountains while the sun is rising

We left  with our backpack and our glad hearts full of our wonderful memories from our adventures in Sagada . There’s so much things that we’ve seen but i did not write about it, you need to see it & experience it  for yourself.

If you want to visit Sagada and looking for a place to stay ,then i highly recommend checking out George Guest House . It’s conveniently located near to the top attractions in Sagada and they are reasonably priced. They are a great host and we had a wonderful stay with them.

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How about you ? What was the recent adventure you’ve done?

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Thank you for stopping by !

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Sagada , A Backpacker’s Paradise

  1. I suddenly missed Sagada! This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to. The people, the culture.. everything! And you are right, though we take very nice photos, nothing seems to ever match the magnificent sunrise of Kiltepan. It is just so magical! I can’t wait to be back here!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, thanks, Christina! 🙂 Yep.. that’s the plan. He told me once that he has a challenge for me… and that is to travel on Halsema Highway. Imagine how jealous he was when he knew I was actually going there the very next week. haha.

    Liked by 1 person

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