Self Expression Magazine

Sagada: A Hidden Shangri-La

By Theslipperchronicles

Sagada: A Hidden Shangri-La

Sagada behind the pines.

Sagada is a cool and quiet town at the top of Mountain Province. Around 5,000 feet above sea level, its cool climate makes it a perfect getaway from the city heat. Surrounded by lush, green forests of pine trees, along with caves and falls, this is possibly the closest to nature I can be.
This mountain paradise is now becoming more and more popular with tourists as this majestic place really  do have a lot to offer. I observed that there are a lot of guesthouses and homestays. You can also meet a lot of foreigners roaming around the town. I am glad though that it has not reached to the point of commercialization. It would really ruin the nature vibe of the place.

Sagada: A Hidden Shangri-La

Town of Bontoc. Photo by: Myraine

From Banaue, we reached Sagada via the town of Bontoc. The three hours of travel did not seem so long as we passed scenic views of terraces, flower patches along the road and wide rivers beneath the valleys which kept our eyes busy.
What to do in Sagada:
Before heading out and go wandering around Sagada, first visit the Sagada Municipal hall and have yourself registered as a tourist in case of emergencies. For guides, you can visit the Sagada Genuine Guides Association (SAGGAS) to accompany you for the various activities you want to experience.
Spelunking at the Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave ConnectionThe Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave Connection normally takes around 4 hours to complete. Starting point will be at the Lumiang Burial cave and the exit would be at the Sumaguing Cave. We skipped going deeper into the Sumaguing cave though (we later regretted this as the cave highlights were at the Sumaguing cave) since most of my lady companions are already exhausted by the long trek thus we decided to complete the connection. The whole trek took us around 3.5 hours to complete. The strategy for our group is for the slow ones up front and the faster ones at the back. This way, no one would be left behind.

Sagada: A Hidden Shangri-La

Lumiang burial cave entrance. Photo by: Charrise

Sagada: A Hidden Shangri-La

No other way but down. Photo by: Charisse

Sagada: A Hidden Shangri-La

Further down the cave. Photo by: Charisse

Sagada: A Hidden Shangri-La

And into the water. Photo by: Charisse

The guides would be bringing gas lamps. It would be advisable to bring your own flashlights or headlamps for a much better experience. I would suggest for you to wear light and bring ziplocks for your camera as there are portions where you must wade into the cold waters of the cave.

Sagada: A Hidden Shangri-La

Stalactite. Photo by: Myraine

A dip or swim in the cold waters perhaps?

Sagada: A Hidden Shangri-La

Dark black pool. Photo by: Myraine

Sagada: A Hidden Shangri-La

Kuya leading the way. Photo by: Rodia

Sagada: A Hidden Shangri-La

Photo by: Rodia

Traversing through the cave is very dangerous. It would have been better if we were handed helmets to wear throughout the activity for added safety measures. The rocks are slippery and there are times where you need to slip through small openings. Just be mindful and always follow your guide. Standard rate for the Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave Connection activity is P400 per person.
Sunrise Viewing at KiltepanWe woke up early the next day to catch a glimpse of the morning sun at the Kiltepan Viewpoint. It was still dark but it didn't stop us and our sleepy but eager eyes to catch that moment. Unfortunately, the sun was shy and was not ready to show us her beauty. Nonetheless, the view was breathtaking with the clouds beneath us and the cold wind brushing through our faces.

Sagada: A Hidden Shangri-La

Sorry guys, no sun for you today. Photo by: Charisse

Do not forget to bring your jacket, blanket or someone to hug to keep you warm :)

Sagada: A Hidden Shangri-La

Road to Kiltepan. Photo by: Myraine

Upon the break of light, the surrounding woods offers us an equally magnificent view. I am glad to see that there are still parts in our country that are still unspoiled.
Bokong FallsFrom the main road, we hiked to the Bokong Falls. Magnificent views of the nearby fields and mini terraces can be seen along the way. After 10 minutes of hiking, we reached the Bokong Falls. The falls was not so tall though, around 20 feet high. Still, it gives a refreshing sight after a short trek.

Sagada: A Hidden Shangri-La

Bokong Falls. Photo by: Sheila

The cold splash of water is so inviting for a swim. We have to pass this up though as we still have other places to visit. If you're up to a much bigger challenge, you can trek to the much bigger Bomod-ok Falls. It would take 4 hours of trekking though so it was not included in our itinerary.
Echo Valley and Hanging CoffinsThrough their local cemetery, we trekked for 30 minutes to the famous hanging coffins. The trail is not so hard as the path is already established. As it rained the night before, some parts of the trail were slippery and muddy. 

Sagada: A Hidden Shangri-La

Trek to Echo Valley. Photo by: Charrise

Sagada: A Hidden Shangri-La

Hanging Coffins. Photo by: Myraine

It is an old tradition for the people of Sagada to hang the coffins of their deceased loved ones along the mountain cliffs as they believed this would make them closer to heaven. Although, not everyone can be buried this way. You must be married and should have grandchildren for you to be eligible for this grand burial.
Sagada Weaving
We visited Sagada Weaving for some souvenir shopping. Sagada Weaving is famous for their sturdy weaved items such as bags, scarfs and bonnets. You can also find ref magnets as well as keychains.

Sagada: A Hidden Shangri-La

Sagada Weaving. Photo by: Myraine

The Echo Valley and the Hanging Coffins were the last of our Sagada itinerary. We headed back to town for lunch and some more souvenir shopping before heading to our next destination (Ilocos). We do missed some other good places to visit in Sagada (Bomod-ok Falls and the Sumaguing Cave highlights as such) but I'll make sure to cross these off my list the next time I'll be in this magical place again.

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