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December 02, 2016

LUMIANG TO SUMAGUING CAVE: Conquering Sagada's Cave Connection!





December 02, 2016

LUMIANG TO SUMAGUING CAVE: Conquering Sagada's Cave Connection!

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Aside from its coveted weather and otherworldly landscapes, Sagada is blessed with stunning limestone caves filled with millennia worth of history. The most popular locations for caving activities are in the Sumaguing, Lumiang, and Balangagan Caves. Here, adventurers can test their limits while exploring ancient burial grounds and magnificent rock formations.

Most tourists opt for the 2-hour course at Sumaguing; this is the quickest and most scenic route that's ideal for visitors short on time. We chose the 4 to 5-hour Cave Connection course, which starts at Lumiang and ends at Sumaguing, to have ample time to explore the inner beauty of Sagada.

Here's how we conquered the Cave Connection Challenge…

 

SAGADA TRAVEL GUIDE 2017 Series:

SAGADA Itinerary DIY: The Road to Sagada (2017) @FordPhilippines
• YOGURT HOUSE SAGADA: Best Breakfast Place in Sagada! (2016 Review)
• GAIA Sagada Cafe: That Famed Cafe in "That Thing Called Tadhana" (Review)
• SAGADA CELLAR DOOR: Agadulay's Kitchen Igorot Dinner and Sagada Craft Beer Experience! (A Review)
• LOG CABIN: A Cozy Retreat in Sagada (A 2016 Review)
• LUMIANG TO SUMAGUING CAVE: Conquering Sagada's Cave Connection!
• SAGADA DEATH RITUALS: On Hanging Coffins, Panag-Apoy and Echoes of Old Igorot Traditions
SAGADA'S MARLBORO: Basking in a Sea of Clouds at Kamanbaneng Sunrise Peak! (Photo Essay)
SAGADA ORANGE PICKING Guide at Rock Farm Inn (Photo Essay)
BIYAHEROES: The Best Online Bus Booking Platform in Manila! Try it!





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CAVING OPTIONS

1)  Short Course Caving
Cave: Sumaguing
Duration: 1.5-2 hours
Difficulty: Average
Activities: Rock formation spotting, rappelling, and boulder climbing

Last Entrance to Cave: 4PM 
Guide Fee:
P500 for 4 visitors or less
P600 for 5 visitors
P1000 (2 guides) for 6-9 visitors
P1200 (2 guides) for 10 visitors
P1500 (3 guides) for 11-12 visitors
Transport Fees: Optional shuttle service for P350 

2)  Cave Connection
Cave: Lumiang to Sumaguing
Duration: 4-5 hours
Difficulty: Average to Challenging
Activities: Burial grounds, rock climbing, rappelling, crawling, rock formations, wading through cold waterbodies
Last Entrance to Cave: 4PM
Guide Fee:
P800 for 2 Visitors or Less
P400 for additional visitor
Transport Fees: Optional 2-way transportation for P400 

3)  Balagagan / Marcos Cave
Cave: Marcos Cave
Duration: 3-4 hours
Difficulty: Average to Challenging
Activities: Crawling through tight spaces and passageways, white flow stones, stalagmites and stalactites

Last Entrance to Cave: 4PM
Guide Fee:
P650 for 4 visitors or less
Transport Fees: Transport fee P650
Transport Schedules (20 pax):
8AM, 10AM, 12PM

A 4th cave, known as Crystal Cave, does not have a tour package at the Municipal office. However, you may book this cave with your guide. This spelunking session is the most technical you can get in Sagada and spans 6 hours.

 

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HOW TO BOOK
Visit the Tourist Information Center to register and pay the P35 environmental fee. You can also DIY a tour package with a Municipal Guide as well as find the cost of transportation to your destination.

SAGADA MUNICIPAL TOURIST INFORMATION CENTER
Poblacion, Sagada, Mountain Province, 2619 Philippines
Operation Hours:
Daily, 7:00am to 6:00pm
Email: sagada.mayor@gmail.com
Facebook: @Sagadatourism

 

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We met with our 2 guides at the entrance leading to Lumiang. There is a small sari-sari store where you can buy snacks and water. It's best to eat your snack before heading down and bring just water with you instead to avoid carrying too much.

If you notice, we're just wearing flip-flops. Now is a good time to tell you that hiking shoes, trekking sandals, and aqua shoes will prove quite useless in your spelunking shesh.

 

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From this point, you will head down steep steps that take you to the entry point.

 

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The entrance is filled with small pinewood coffins that are over 500 years old. The dead are laid down in a fetal position and placed at the mouth of the cave to bring the departed back to mother earth. Coffins cannot be placed inside or else the deceased will never find their way out of the darkness.

Read more about the Applai Tribe’s unique funeral rituals: SAGADA DEATH RITUALS: On Hanging Coffins, Panag-Apoy and Echoes of Old Igorot Traditions

 

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Human remains can be seen through some dilapidated coffins. Do not touch or take anything here--not only does this show pure disregard for Igorot culture, it’s also considered bad luck to move the dead! You don't want any angry spirits following you back home, do you?

 

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Orientation begins at the mouth of the cave and our guides ready their gas lamps. Since you'll be carrying zero safety equipment other than slippers and strength of will, listening carefully is a great idea.  

If this is your first time caving, it's OK to feel scared and apprehensive. Caves are dark, dangerous, and smelly--a perfect environment to culture your phobia of dark and tight spaces. However, we promise you that you'll crawl out of this cave a braver person. 

SAFETY TIPS & REMINDERS
- Always follow your guides
- Never stray from the group
- Bring a dry bag (optional)
- If you don’t want to carry your belongings, you may give them to the guides to carry
- Dress comfortably--leggings, rash guard, dry fit shirts, or shorts are fine
- Wear slippers because trekking shoes will prove to be quite unstable and slippery on wet limestone; in fact, going barefoot provides the best friction
- Spelunkers with camera equipment or less experienced spelunkers are expected to be at the front of the line to set the pace
- Don't vandalize
- Don't litter
- Don't touch any rock formations 

 

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The guides grew up exploring the caves as youngsters and are now part of the team that discovered the exit route! In fact, they spent a week camping in the caves while looking for the best and safest passageways.

 

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The spelunking session starts off easy enough. At this point, you should wear your slippers to avoid cutting your feet on any sharp rocks. As you go deeper into the cave, it gets a lot darker, scarier, and more challenging.

We wouldn't recommend this activity for children younger than 12 years old. The caves are not the most child-friendly environments.

 

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Some passageways will only fit one person at a time and you'll have to rely on your own body strength to support yourself. Don't worry! The guides will be at the end of the passageway to make sure you make it out safely, but you have to do your part and not panic.

Bigger would-be spelunkers may have difficulty going through these passages though, so make sure you ask your guide if there are alternative routes.

 

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Safety ropes are strategically placed to help you through tough spots, but only in select places.

 

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We mentioned it before, but we'll mention it again for good measure: always stick with your group no matter how much you want to keep going.

 

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Being in good physical condition is a plus but you don't need to be a champion spelunker to finish this course.

For some, this is more of a mental challenge.

 

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Guides will help you by showing you where to put your hands and feet, as well as quite literally offer a shoulder or leg as a platform so you get down safely. Some of us got really embarrassed, but they assured that it's part of their job to keep the experience as comfortable as possible.

 

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On your way you’ll get some really nice group shot opportunities. The guides are kind enough to take them for you! Just try not to take too long to prevent congestion in the caves. Chances are other groups have the same photo idea. 

 

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One of our favorite parts of Lumiang was this curiously shaped cavern that forced us to use every limb on our bodies. Some passages can be traversed in multiple ways--either wade through the water or starfish your way to the end of the tunnel! We chose the latter.

 

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The closer you get to Sumaguing, the wetter and more slippery the route becomes. You'll come across a lot of bat droppings and flow stones, or calcite deposits polished down by running water. Go barefoot here, as your feet and skin surprisingly provide the best grip.

 

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You’ll also rappel up flow stones along the way and look so cool doing it! If this is the first time you've done it, go at it slowly. Climbing up too fast may cause you to sway out of control and injure yourself.

 

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Your route to Sumaguing will require wading through near freezing water! Sometimes, it'll even reach your shoulders--so a dry fit shirt or rash guard will come in handy here to help the cold water dry as fast as possible.

  

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Sumaguing is the largest cave and contains the greatest number of stalactites and stalagmites developed naturally by traces of calcium in water droplets. Stalactites hang from the top, while stalagmites grow from the ground. The rock formations shouldn't be touched, since the oils in our hands may disrupt the growth by changing their chemical balance (notice how we are seated in front of the live rocks formations).

We'll leave the rock formation exploration to you--we don’t want to ruin the surprise!

 

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The team went in as strangers and came out as Facebook friends. Haha! After a good 4.5 hours of spelunking, 2 hours of which were spent wading through guano-filled passageways, we were covered in a smell that even we wouldn't wish on our worst enemies. However, we’re all smiles because we all achieved something that day. The whole ordeal is intense, but the bonding opportunities with friends and family are like no other.

In spite of the very tiring and fear-inducing experience, we slept well that night and woke up the next day being on the list of people who conquered Sagada's Cave Connection.

 

SAGADA TRAVEL GUIDE 2017 Series:

SAGADA Itinerary DIY: The Road to Sagada (2017) @FordPhilippines
• YOGURT HOUSE SAGADA: Best Breakfast Place in Sagada! (2016 Review)
• GAIA Sagada Cafe: That Famed Cafe in "That Thing Called Tadhana" (Review)
• SAGADA CELLAR DOOR: Agadulay's Kitchen Igorot Dinner and Sagada Craft Beer Experience! (A Review)
• LOG CABIN: A Cozy Retreat in Sagada (A 2016 Review)
• LUMIANG TO SUMAGUING CAVE: Conquering Sagada's Cave Connection!
• SAGADA DEATH RITUALS: On Hanging Coffins, Panag-Apoy and Echoes of Old Igorot Traditions
SAGADA'S MARLBORO: Basking in a Sea of Clouds at Kamanbaneng Sunrise Peak! (Photo Essay)
SAGADA ORANGE PICKING Guide at Rock Farm Inn (Photo Essay)
BIYAHEROES: The Best Online Bus Booking Platform in Manila! Try it!

 

Live an Awesome Life,

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SHEILA of Team Our Awesome Planet

Disclosure: Transportation, lodging, and tours were arranged by BIYAHEROES. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. 

P.S. Try to do this activity during drier seasons, as the cave tends to dangerously overflow during the wet season.

 

How to get to Sagada Direct via Bus? @BIYAHEROES (CODA Lines Bus from Cubao to Sagada)

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Go to www.biyaheroes.com and book your preferred bus schedule with reserved seats online! 

ONE-WAY PRICE PER HEAD: P720

CODA LINES DAILY TRIPS
Quezon City to Sagada: 9:00PM
Quezon City to Banaue, Ifugao: 9:00PM

Sagada to Quezon City: 3:00PM
Bontoc to Quezon City: 4:00PM 

Baguio City to Maddela, Quirino: 8:30PM
Baguio City to Kiangan, Ifugao: 9:00PM
Baguio City to Banaue, Ifugao: 9:30PM

Maddela, Quirino to Baguio City: 4:30PM
Kiangan, Ifugao to Baguio City: 6:00PM
Banaue, Ifugao to Baguio City: 6:00PM

 

CODA LINES CORPORATION
HM Transport Inc. Monte de Piedad, corner Maryland street, Cubao, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Quezon City, Philippines
Mobile:
Quezon City: +63 927 559 2197 | +63 929 521 3229
Sagada: +63 929 521 3247 | +63 936 971 9216
Baguio City: +63 935 535 9114 | +63 998 444 8831
Bontoc: +63 977 326 8080 | +63 929 521 3235
Banaue: +63 936 971 9240 | +63 920 651 9672
Kiangan: +63 947 079 7466
Operation Hours:
Daily 9am to 9pm
Email: codalinescorp@gmail.com
Facebook: @CODALinesCorporation
Website: www.codalines.com

 

TOURING SAGADA

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Visit the Tourist Information Center to register and pay the P35 environmental fee. You can also DIY a tour package with a Municipal Guide as well as find the cost of transportation.

SAGADA MUNICIPAL TOURIST INFORMATION CENTER
Poblacion, Sagada, Mountain Province, 2619 Philippines
Operation Hours:
Daily, 7:00am to 6:00pm
Email: sagada.mayor@gmail.com
Facebook: @Sagadatourism

 

Tours & Packages you can choose from, including guide fees.   

TOURS

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Map & Important numbers.

MAPS & NUMBERS

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Transportation

JEEP AND SHUTTLE SCHEDS

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Tourist Commandments

COMMANDMENTS

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