12 hours from manila by bus… so we thought there would be some other tourists, but there were a lot of them. Not only woolen socks backpackin’ types but also a lot of local tourists (from Manila apparently). Why? One may ask. Because it is so different! Pine trees, unique burial sites, lemon pies, good food, civet coffee, temperatures below 15ºc… Is this really in the Philippines? It is, luckily. For us this was our third destination so we were still wondering where the beaches are. But we could imagine it would be a nice break from the beach to be in Sagada if you were already in SE Asia for a while…
When we arrived we went straight to George’s guest house, after getting a room there we went back up the street to check the tourist information building. There are signs everywhere that you have to pay the eco tax, or else you could not enter any of the surrounding caves, hikes etc. Sometimes the prices are good, but the hike to mt. Sisipitan was 2500php pp, a bit too much for our budget at least.
At that moment we met a German couple that we had already met in Manila. They asked if we would join them to go to the hanging coffins, but we had to decline since we weren’t prepared for it. Anyway, we tried to get to the hanging coffins (main attraction) afterwards and it didn’t work out. Only the day we left we succeeded in getting there!
Since we didn’t get too the coffins, we got a guide to vist the ‘cave connection ‘, a caving experience, advisable footwear:flip-flops! After a short walk to the cave we started our descent with one headlight and one petrol lamp held by the guide… no ropes, no helmets, only flip flops. Yes, there was a real danger, but YES, it is worth it! The cave itself is beautiful, the petrol lights made it mysterious. Yours sincerely did fall in a pool though, besides wet trousers I bruised my elbows and had a puncture wound on it. After the comforting words ‘I forgot my first aid kit’ from the guide we continued our tour and came out of Sumagin cave after 3 hours. Mission accomplished. We didn’t have our camera with us so you’ll have to go yourself to know what it’s reeaally like 🙂
We ran into the Germans in the cave and at dinner.The universe was forcing the issue, so plans were made to do a hike together with Chris and Helen. Chris had a GPS watch and led the way, the hike was really nice but fog disturbed our views and way to the peak we wanted to reach.
Another hike followed the next day passing mt. Kiltepan, ‘Marlboro country’ and some villages, more strenuous but even nicer than the day before! Passing bridges, rice fields, rivers, vegetable fields (when there is no rice, the fields are used for vegetables) and casually saving a goat from three dogs attacking it we made our way back to Sagada where we treated ourselves on a piece of lemon pie and a dinner afterward in the log cabin! A nice ending to a set of amazing days in mysterious Sagada…
George’s guesthouse: Good but basic, reception is not super active to help you. Hot showers though! (600 php per room/pn)
Salt and Pepper: Heard that it was good for sleeping from Chris and Helen, ate there for dinner and breakfast and it was good. The food is a little bit overpriced. (600 php per room/pn)
Getting there and away:
Get a van From Banaue (3h) or go straight from Manila with Koda Trans. We went back to Manila with them (a long 12h ride).
The yoghurt house: Hard to miss, a little bit more expensive but worthwhile. Menu is varied, the pork with brown sauce was really nice! Pasta looked good but it the minced meat was finished when we got there.
Log Cabin: VERY good but also expensive, make a reservation and order your food upfront to avoid a disappointment. They even serve some decent wine, a killer for the budget but a nice change.
Salt And Pepper: Bit overpriced and a slow kitchen, but good as well.