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That Exciting Place Called Sagada: Activities and Life Lessons

The moment I decided to go alone in Sagada. I’m certain on what activities are fit during my short stay. I read stories on how challenging the cave connections was and how surprising to watch the sunrise at Kiltepan peak. Nonetheless, I never thought that by doing these things, I will learn many lessons in life. Below are some activities I tried in the place where they said the broken heart goes and how it changes my life.

Cave connections from Lumiang to Sumaguing cave.

The adventure will start with a 30 minutes’ walk from town proper up to the cave entrance. Our group was welcome by hanging coffins found at the entrance of Lumiang Cave. I have an idea that this is going to be tough but what I did was beyond my expectation. Before we start, we are brief on how to stay safe inside the cave: sit and crawl if necessary. If you feel like falling, be alert and ensure the safety of your head.

 

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Hanging coffins at the entrance of Lumiang Cave

 

We need to climb, go up and down the rope but whatever happens we need to hold on tight. The first part of our spelunking was easy. It’s more of walking and every group is still energetic. You can still hear loud laughter at this part. After few minutes of walking, our group came to a halt. We rest for quite a long time. The reason of the traffic was, we  need to go down to a hole which is 12 feet deep using a rope. This was the first action that challenged me. I admit that at this point I would like to back out. But I don’t want to have regrets in my life.

 

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Are you ready for this?

 

After passing this point, I became more serious about this activity. We did climb to move from walls to walls like spiderman without any safety harness. Falling is not an option unless you would like to be injured. Series of difficult challenges await us. More of climbing ropes, enter small holes, crawling and balancing our body considering that rocks are slippery. Furthermore, we walked beside cliffs, we swam, and other actions that are indescribable.

We ended our activity tired yet delighted. I did a lot of things that I couldn’t imagine that I can and I will. This activity taught me an important lesson about TRUST. To trust our tour guide because he knows what’s best for our safety. To trust my friends since I need them to cheer me up during the time when I feel like giving up. To trust myself more and believe that whatever challenges awaits, I can conquer it!

 

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Friends I met during my SOLO travel

 

Bomod-ok falls.

To save extra money,  you don’t need to hire a jeep or a van going to Bomod-ok falls. From town proper look for a jeep that is going to Barangay Bangaan. That’s approximately 25 minutes away from Sagada. Don’t forget to take the opportunity to do TOPLOAD. One way fare is 25php. From there, we registered our group to get a tour guide. We paid 500php/3 and added 30php each for I believe was tourism fee. Then 10php (I can’t remember exactly what this 10php fee for)

We had Ate Rose as our tour guide. She said it’s going to be one and a half hour walk going in and another one and a half walk going out from the falls. More likely 6000++ steps. You can take this opportunity to ask your tour guide series of questions. Which we did and we are thankful that Ate Rose is open for conversations. We talked about mountain province, the tour process, politics, culture, food, livelihood  and her personal life.

Allow me to share her story. She’s married with 4 sons and a tour guide for at least once a week. There are over hundreds of guides going to the falls. yet, the demand of tourists arrival wasn’t enough to give them an opportunity to do many guiding a week. While she’s waiting for her turn, she also works in the rice field to cut grasses. Sometimes, she carries loads of woods from the mountain to bring up to the main road.

 

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Our lovely guide – Ate Rose

Her husband and kids also do the same. Despite hearing that the way of living in the mountain is not easy. Still, Ate Rose sounded positive on sharing her stories. I can feel the dignity on her voice while she’s sharing a story on how they could send their kids at school. They can buy things that they need and can pay the costly electric bills in mountain province. There were no signs of regrets in her life. This makes me believe that contentment is the real key to happiness.

 

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Bomod-Ok Falls

After an hour and half of exhausting walk, we arrived at the falls. Many people are already there. The current was not too strong and the water was too cold. Some people are satisfied  watching the falls others attempted to dip half of their body and few people swim. Definitely, I will not let go this opportunity to swim in this extreme  cold water of Bomod-Ok falls.

After an hour of swimming and rest, we decided to go back. We walked going to Barangay Aguid. We had a closer view of rice terraces and we had the opportunity of walking on the rice field. We were not able to catch the last local jeep from Aguid to Sagada which usually leaves at 1:30 p.m. Unfortunately, a group of local tourists didn’t allow us to hitch with them. At this point, we didn’t have any choice but to walk back from Aguid to Bangaan. Tip: plan this tour as early as possible to catch the local Jeepney back to Sagada.

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The Sunset at Lake Danum

Visiting Lake Danum on sunset is another place that you can do by yourself. If you are in a big group you can rent a jeep for 500php back and forth. Since we are just a group of 3 we opted to walk. It is 45 minutes to an hour of long, tiring and felt like a never ending walk from town proper going to Lake Danum. I’m a bit disappointed that there are numbers of vans, jeepneys, cars and a truck passed by but no one at least attempted to offer us a ride. We talked to one truck driver and asked him if we could hitch. Even if we are halfway, He asked for a fee which we immediately declined. At this moment,  I feel like giving up not knowing how long I need to walk more. But I keep reminding myself, “If you’re about to give up, always remember the reason why you started”

TIP: If you still have more time you can drop by to Sagada pottery and weaving.

 

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The road might look long and endless but never think about giving up

At last we arrived at Lake Danum before 6:00 p.m although we didn’t catch its beautiful sunset. It’s still an accomplishment to reach my short goal and never let my disappointment stop me. We are fortunate that Ivy and Marie; the girl we met during the cave connections was also there. I asked them if we could hitch back to town proper. Gladly, they warmly accept us to join them back to town.

 

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Lake Danum

 

The Sunrise at Kiltepan Peak

After all these tiring activities that we did.  Our group decided that we will rent a jeep going to Kiltepan peak the next day for the following reasons. We don’t have enough energy to do another long walk, we are not familiar on the road going to Kiltepan peak and the road might be too dark at 5:00 a.m.  We don’t want to compromise our safety. Thus, we arrange a jeepney service with the help of the owner of the Inn where we are staying and pay 500php.

We leave our Inn past 5:00 a.m in the morning and for the first time in my life I feel the 12* Celsius temperature lingering on my body. It was super cold and I never expect it to be that cold so I didn’t wear long pants. I’m shaking all throughout our trip even inside the jeepney. Thank’s to the shop that selling hot coffee in the area, it really helps to make my body feel warm.

 

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The best view of sunrise

The entire view of the mountains from Kiltepan peak was astonishing, the horizon was breathtaking, the sea of clouds are amazing and the sunrise was magnificent. No words can describe my happiness being there at this moment together with numbers of people shouting WOW! while the sun is rising. This was the most lovely sunrise I was seen so far.

This reminds me that even how difficult and challenging life could be, there is still tomorrow and every day God will never stop to shower us his blessings and miracles.

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St Mary the virgin church, Echo valley and Hanging coffins.

These are the easiest activities that we did during our stay. The church is just a few minutes’ walk away from the town hall. These are the best activities to end our stay in Sagada. I pray and give thanks for meeting people along the road and for keeping me safe all throughout my solo travel. Although, the road to echo valley and hanging coffins were a bit confusing. At first there was only 1 path then as we walk farther the road goes two to three confusing paths. Good thing our sense of direction works. We reach echo valley and hanging coffins without the need of a tour guide. If you still have more energy you can try wall climbing near the hanging coffins.

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I’m certain that there are more activities to do in Sagada. My 3 days and 2 nights stay were not enough to do all those activities. Even so, these days teach me lessons in life that I will treasure forever

Have you been to Sagada? What are your favorite activities? What life lessons have you learned?

68 comments

  • I haven’t been to Sagada yet but I’d like to visit it once my baby gets a little older.

  • Wow, you covered more than we did. We only had an overnight stay in Sagada so we failed to explore the lake and the falls. Sagada is such a beauty, I think one should stay for a week to really marvel the majesty of the place. I admire your being adventurous and friendly, you were able to find new friends and even got to hitch a ride back to town. Awesome!

  • Wow, I didn’t have any idea that Sagada is so nice a place to visit. But if I will be hiking and climbing and walking that much, I need to get fit. Hay…

  • I really like to go to Sagada. I just wish the travel time is just shorter. But for sure it’s worth the time naman when you see the beauty of Sagada.

  • I never been to Sagada but the place looks wonderful. Thank you for money savings tips, and of course TOPLOAD is always fun! Tagal ko ng hindi na experience yan. Great photos and wonderful place indeed. Love to visit soon.:)
    http://www.sweetcuisinera.com

  • Loved Sagada! I was there 8 years ago and I would want to go back to see the difference!

  • Oh I wish I could visit this place one day!

  • What a thrilling adventure to Sagada you had! I am not sure I could do those “challenges”. What is great about traveling is learning the life lessons you shared.

    • Thanks Ceemee. I never thought I could did that too. But I did. I think you can. That’s important for me. To learn something while travelling. 🙂

  • Beautiful and so offbeat! It seems that all the trekking, climbing and walking was very rewarding in the end

  • I’ve not yet been to the Philippines but would certainly lie to! I’d skip the caving and enjoy the beautiful sights outdoors though. Thx for sharing your pics.

  • If I will go to Sagada, I will just enjoy the weather, food and visit the Sunrise at Kiltepan Peak. I’m not sure if I can do some of the activities, baka di na ko makalakad pauwi. hehehe!

    • HAhahaha. True! Medyo nakakapagod talaga mag Sagada. But since nagawa ko na naman yung mga medyo extreme. Maybe. If ever Ill revisit mag papalamig nalang ako hahaha 🙂

  • Wow, love the local touch! I think I’d find going into the cave quite scary, looks worth it though. Like the money saving tips – I’m such a cheapo!

  • Okay, so there are coffins at the cave entrance, then pinned to the side of the wall at your last destination.

    What’s the story with all of them?

    • I’m not sure of the whole story but I can share 1 fact. The higher the coffins that person have an important role in the society. 🙂

      • Ah, there are similar things in other cultures, such as we saw in Morocco!

        • That’s interesting Chris. What about in Morocco?

          • When they built their tombs, the size was dictated by their position in society, with the wealthier/more important people having taller crypts, and the poorer people, flatter ones

          • Thanks for sharing that info. Interesting. Its so amazing to know that cultures around the globe where at the certain points, have something in common 🙂

  • I had never heard about this place before reading this article 🙂 looks like an amazing place for adventurous people!

  • That is scary! You are certainly braver than I am. Those coffins were really incredible!

  • What a brilliant place to visit. I’ve seen it only on a TV documentary and now in your post. Loved your pictures. Fascinating with how the coffins are placed.
    Great read!

  • What an awesome and memorable experience! I would trade anything to go there and experience the hike and everything else myself.

  • I’ve always wanted to go there. The photos look majestic. Seems like you and your friends had fun. Thanks for sharing!

    Lester | http://lesteronearth.blogspot.com

  • As adventurers and climbers this place looks idea, I will add it to our list! Good on your for going solo!

  • Wow, this is exactly the type of place we would love as adventurers and climbers! What an awesome find and good on you for going solo!

  • I left my heart in Sagada. Lols.Spelunking was the best part of our Banaue-Sagada-Bagiuo trip last February. – Plus the chilling weather, plus the food, plus the coffee. Oh, okay, I really love everything in Sagada that I was thinking it as good place to retire. 😉

    • My ideal retirement place is something beach front but Sagada is still on high consideration. Given its cool weather. Hays! Now I miss the north 🙁

  • For a place I have never heard, I completely fell in love – especially the waterfalls! The hanging coffins are also quite the sight!

  • Not sure about that caving trip! Looks quite tight in spots! It is amazing the lengths and sacrifices some people make for their kids to get an education. Yet in the west, we have the opposite problem, kids that can’t be bothered to go to school because they can’t see the value of it!

    • Education is very important for us. In a third world country like the Philippines. We believe that education is the key to success and one of the best ways to save our life from poverty. Thank you Elizabeth for your comment. I appreciate it 🙂

  • We were in Sagada early ’14 and were right during the Etag Festival. Not the best time if you’re going with the flow (we had the last room in town), but a great experience.
    Would love to go back to do the caving!

  • What a nice place, I want to go there someday with my husband. This is very interesting adventure.

  • I’ve always been to Baguio but never Sagada. Maybe next year it will be part of my bucketlist so I can finally say “I’ve conquered Sagada”!

  • Next on my list, but most probably with hubby only. 🙂

  • I definitely have to visit Sagada! I’ve heard about the hanging coffins and look forward to seeing them myself!

  • Hey Cai,
    Amazing offbeat place. Thanks for giving a step by step guidebook to Sagada. You really had great fun.
    I feel so good to have found you and your adventures and travel atles are really making me read more and more.
    Golden hour photographs are always my fav. And hanging coffins are amusinng. Look forward to hear the story behind these hanging coffins!!!

  • Wow! A hanging coffin is a most fascinating concept, kinda creepy When you first think about it but fairly benign in the photo. I don’t think I would have been able to drop through the hole into the cave. Very inspiring the way you faced your fear.

  • You should REVISIT Sagada soon 🙂

  • Okay, I missed some things in our Sagada adventure; we went to the cave, but I don’t remember going through that hole, we didn’t go to Bomod-ok falls, we didn’t visit Lake Danum, and most of all, Kiltepan Peak wasn’t part of our itinerary. I realized there are many places I’ve yet to discover in Sagada. I should have won that free trip during the Backpacker Teacher launch!

    • Hi Marjorie,

      Thanks for the comment 🙂 YEAH! You should won that! HAHAHA. Anyway, What are the things that you did in Sagada?

  • An Old friend mine told me to be very fit before going to Sagada (she’s in her 50’s) so I need to take her advice. It includes on my travel plans but I guess tatagal pa ito( hopefully not) I been wanting to have a tattoe( with meaning of course) but too many things hinder me.But then I remembered the old lady who does tattoe ( the last to her generation),So I promised myself I will go to Sagada once I am ready to have one meaningful tats.Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for the comment lorlyn. Im looking forward to see u in sagada. You will love it! Share me some of ur pics someday!

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