Tuesday, February 22, 2011

TRAVEL STORY | Sagada - Banawe - Hungduan Part 1

NOTE: This post is not a "guide" but an account of our trip to Sagada and the other places we visited. However, I will try to include as much information that might be useful as possible.

Well, First thing's first. Meet the Gang!

This adventure was not in my original plan on how to spend my 28th birthday (Feb 12) .Going back to Anawangin was my top choice because I wanted to try camping there solo. However, I shared my plan to Israel who was originally agreeable to come. I later found our that he spoke with Daniel and changed the destination from Anawangin to Sagada. I hate changing plans but

Israel was annoyingly persistent about the trip. 

I had reservations about it because I really couldn't afford it and the girls were virtually strangers because they are Daniel's and Israel's circle of friends. It was not a very comforting thought. 

What convinced me to go were the information and the pictures I saw when I did some research about Sagada online. Being a lover of the outdoors, it intrigued me so much.

So, come February 9, 2011 I decided to go. I told myself that this might be my only chance, might as well give it a go, right? 

I did some more research about Sagada and the Batad Rice Terraces (it was apparently part of the plan). In spite of Israel’s reassurance that he would take care of itinerary, I still did some digging on my end. It was, after all, for my 28th birthday.

I took over planning and informed everyone through our Facebook group and even took the responsibility of having our seats on the bus to Banawe reserved. I wanted everything ironed out (talk about being so anal).


This was the original itinerary I devised based on what Israel said and on my research. The attractions we are to visit and the lodges are plotted on the map below (OC much?).

February 11, 2011 (Friday)

10:45 PM – Departure from Florida Bus Terminal to Banawe

February 12, 2011 (Saturday)

7:00 AM – ETA in Banaue, grab a quick breakfast and then get a ride to Sagada
12:00 NN – ETA in Sagada, will look for a place to stay and eat lunch

*Options for Lodging *
- chosen based on the positive comments about them online
Residential Lodge (1)
Canaway Resthouse (2)
George Guest House (3)
Sagada Home Stay (4)

*Attractions to visit
2. Sumaging Cave – spelunking (D1B)

February 13, 2011 (Sunday)

*Attractions to visit
1. Kiltepan Peak – view of Sagada and neighboring Rice Terraces (D2A)
2. Bomod-ok Falls – big waterfalls of Sagada (D2B)
3. Bokong Falls – small waterfalls of Sagada (D2C)
4. Mt. Ampacao – trekking (D2D)
~ visiting Lake Danum was also an option because of its proximity to Mt. Ampacao
~ Side Trips: Sagada Pottery, Yoghurt House, Marlboro Mountains, Underground River

February 14, 2011 (Monday)

* The group is to decide if whether we are to stay in Sagada or we travel to Batad and view its Rice Terraces (I was leaning towards the former).

- My Online Sources -

click here to view / download a larger version of this photo


365 kilometers
I prepared for the trip as if it was a climb and I anticipated it will also be very cold. I also insisted on bringing my stove and cook set to have it handy in case anyone wants to have coffee or instant noodles. I also did some grocery shopping (didn’t want to go hungry on my birthday trip) and because of my ridiculous obsession about what to bring, I ended up with 3 bags. Ridge (my Conquer Ridge Runner and yes I named some of my gear ('',) in case you are wondering...) was so loaded that I can barely zip him close. I also have a sling bag for the bus ride and another bag for food. My poor Ridge weighed much heavier than when I once packed him with Slob (my tent) and 2 liters of water for a climb.

I met some of the “Gang” in front of the mall near my place. around 9:30pm, Feb 11. We then rode a jeep to Espana. We met the rest of our group at the Florida bus terminal along Lacson Avenue. Our reservation was scheduled to leave at 10:45 PM trip for Banawe. (bus fare is 450 PHP each / I highly suggest going to the bus terminal to have your seats reserved especially when traveling in a big group or on a weekend/peak season).

Daniel and Israel
Charisse was definitely excited about the trip.
We left the terminal on the clock. The bus was full with several foreigners and other vacationers like us. According to our tickets, we were to travel from kilometer post 005 to 370. That was 365 kilometers of butt numbing ride. 

We made 3 stops along the way (San Miguel in Bulacan, Nueva Vizcaya and another before entering Ifugao) so it wasn’t all that bad. I didn't realize that I just turned 28 until it was 12:39am. (Happy Birthday to me! My phone actually started buzzing around this time of all the Facebook greetings I was receiving).

Oh, oh... Daniel, you might get us into trouble...

If it was cold inside the bus, it was nothing compared to what greeted us during our last bus break for the it was so foggy when we got off and our every breath condensed. The rest of the ride to Banaue was also quite alarming too because though there was light coming from the sun, we can only see a couple of meters in front of the bus due to the fog.

Jen and Cha trying to get some snooze on the road
foggy road
Jen, don't be scared... We are almost there... (I think)


Israel, Daniel and April
It was drizzling and very cold in Banawe. It was also still very foggy. A local approached us as we got off the bus and asked us about our destination. He pointed us to stay at the Hillside Restaurant for maybe some breakfast while he asks around for other passengers going to Sagada. This is how we met Sir Jun. He is the driver of the van going to Sagada.

Jen, April, Daniel, Israel and Charisse
We stayed at the restaurant for like an hour while we waited for other passengers. I only ordered coffee because I brought some chicken sandwich. The “Gang”, on the other hand, ordered breakfast and also did some shopping for their cold gear. I didn't buy anything because I usually shop before the journey home to make sure I have extra funds handy.

US behind the counter with the Hillside Resto Owner

them after shopping | me after coffee

We ended up renting the van on our own because no one else was traveling to Sagada. It was foggy half of the way but Sir Jun assured us that it will be clear or even sunny in Sagada. He also said that Banawe weather is very hard to predict and locals only seem to understand it. 

I was riding shotgun during our Journey and Sir Jun was kind enough to stop every time there were great sceneries and views for our “hungry SLR photographers” (Daniel, Israel and Charisse). Jen brought her Canon point and shoot while I took photos using my SE G700 cell phone. April, on the other hand, just took a snooze at the back of the van.

Sir Jun
our van driver and ever patient "guide"

me, joining the commotion
Sir Jun was also very patient in answering all our questions during the ride (we had a lot). I was so cold that asked Cha to bring out the booze for some liquid heat. The fog was heavy while we were on the road but it was clearer when we reached low lying areas.

a slide show of photos taken during our van ride to Sagada


I fell asleep after passing Bontoc, the capital municipality of the Mountain Province. We were entering Sagada proper when I woke up and they apparently discussed other options for lodging while I slept. It was around 12:00nn. We first stopped at the Saint Joseph Rest House but their rooms were out of our budget. I was starting to get annoyed because this was out of the plan we discussed. I was also starving (not a good sign).

We tried our 1st choice (George Guest House) but they were fully booked. We ended up in the Canaway Rest House next door. Our room was on the 4th floor where there are 2 rooms. The room facing the front of the building was occupied and so we stayed at the back room because it can accommodate 6 people. Our main room was spacious and has 2 beds and a small TV with cable channels. It also has an adjoining room with another bed, toilet and bath and a balcony with a view of the village and Mt. Ampacao. All these for 250 PHP per night (per person). What a bargain!

front balcony view
our back balcony view
Mt. Ampacao
Since I was loosing it because of hunger, I asked everyone that we just leave our things, grab some lunch and then talk about what to do next while we ate. We found an affordable place to eat down the road (was not able to take down the name). We ordered food and patiently waited. The “Gang” took pictures (of course!).

Don't be fooled! These are very hungry smiles...
Charisse looks unhappy about something, doesn't she?
the "BES" people
The camera testing and photo taking stopped when our food arrived the servings were plenty and the vegetables were really fresh (this means sorry, no food pics, we were so hungry we just dug in). 

We discussed and decided to follow my plan for Day 1 as we ate. I insisted on buying ingredients for our dinner and breakfast because the stores and restos there close early at night. 

Charisse was tasked to get our group registered at the town hall and to try to contact a guide while the rest of us went shopping for food. Everyone regrouped at the rest house and prepared for our 1st adventure.

by Israel Corda

CLICK HERE for Sagada - Echo Valley - the Hanging Coffins Part 2

TEREBOL | i ♥ backpacking


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