This post has been in my drafts for so long. Hopefully, anything I share here will still be of help when you go to Sagada.
Late last year, I went on an out of the country vacation, but I still felt burnt out. (It must have been too short. 😂) So, I asked my boyfriend we have a trip over a weekend to relieve some work-related stress. He suggested Sagada since he got offered a trip there.
I saw the Sagada itinerary only the day before the trip. It was far from relaxing. 😅
When the boyfriend and I arrived at the meetup point, it was only then I found out that the tour group comprised of joiners. I was awkward at first (I’m no social butterfly) but eventually felt comfortable.
The meetup was at 9 PM, but it moved to 11 PM because joiners from Davao had a delayed flight. Fine with me because I wanted to make sure I had everything I needed.
We left the meetup point as soon as the Davao joiners arrived, which was past midnight, and the ride was smooth until we arrived in Nueva Ecija.
If I remember correctly, we arrived in Nueva Ecija at some time between 3-4 AM. I kept falling asleep, and I remember that we hardly moved from our spot. Two overturned trucks caused a traffic jam, which affected both tourists and residents (but mostly the former). I’m glad I didn’t have coffee the night before; otherwise, my bladder would have tortured me.
I lost count of the hours it took before we got out of the mess. We were starving since we missed our breakfast. Finding a place to eat took longer too because all the eateries along the way were packed.
We stopped at Kuya Lars or Erel (there were two names written on the menu) for our meal, but because we arrived already past lunch time and many people had already eaten before us, there was hardly anything left. Other customers just had instant noodles!
The boyfriend and I got lucky we still got some stew, fried fish, and red egg. I hate to admit that it was one of those instances wherein even hunger was not enough for us to enjoy the food. 😅
Our first stop was Banaue. We arrived before 5 PM. To give an idea of how behind we were in our itinerary, we were supposed to have breakfast there at 6 AM. Think of that time difference! At the end of this post, I will share our supposed itinerary.
I couldn’t take a lot of photos anymore because it was overcast. I just took a few, then looked around for souvenirs and shared coffee with my boyfriend.
We arrived in Sagada just in time for dinner. Our activities supposedly for the day had to be moved the following day.
After dinner, we checked in. The accommodation was a house with two bedrooms, a kitchen, a T&B, and another bathroom. It seemed small for our group. Some had to sleep in the living room space, but we were still comfortable even though it was so cold.
Kiltepan viewpoint for sunrise viewing
We had an early start the following day, so we can catch the sunrise at Kiltepan Viewpoint. Our call time was 4:30 AM.
The hike up Kiltepan started at around 5:30 AM. There was a massive crowd because we, the Saturday group, had to join the Sunday group.
The path was muddy, which made the hike more strenuous. Also, the hike looked like a cult procession in the dark. Haha! People played music, and I overheard some sharing stories of their pet dogs. 🙂
The boyfriend and I had breakfast as we waited for the sunrise. I had (ridiculously expensive) congee while the boyfriend had (bland) champorado (sweet chocolate rice porridge). I wanted it too, but I’m lactose intolerant. 😛 Anyway, after breakfast, we looked for a less crowded spot so we can get some nice sunrise photos and videos.
Yep, that (in the photo) was already “lesser people” so one can imagine how many people there really were.
The sea of clouds is breathtaking itself.
The sunrise was beautiful and even more so as the sea of clouds slowly dispersed. I suddenly had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for being alive and for witnessing such beauty. 🙂
Despite the crowd, I was happy with all the photos and videos I took. The Kiltepan Viewpoint is “known for panoramic sunrise views over surrounding mountains and rice terraces” and is a must-visit if you go to Sagada. I read that the view deck is accessible by transportation (4WD vehicles and jeepneys). However, at the time, only half the muddy route was passable.
I thought our hike was done, but I was very wrong! We hiked for two hours more. Luwa dila amp
Blue Soil Hills
Thirty minutes later, we arrived in Blue Soil Hill. The pool blue soil looks like snow in the photos, especially when the people were (still) in their jackets.
I didn’t take a closer look at the blue soil anymore. I was hungry, and my legs almost refused to function anymore. 😂 Speaking of legs, I mentioned earlier how I was careful during the hike so I wouldn’t get scratches on my legs. But, just a step before I got off the mountain, a small stem scratched my right leg. Ugh!
Late Breakfast/Early Lunch near Sumaguing Cave
As soon as our group gathered at the end of the Kiltepan-Marlboro Hills hike trail, we left for Sumaguing Cave. The spelunking involves swimming, which I thought might not be good (at least for me) after hours of hiking. Also, we already checked out in the morning before the sunrise viewing. There wouldn’t be an opportunity to shower and freshen up until we get home.
Some of us who skipped the spelunking had late breakfast/late lunch instead at the restaurant across the cave. I wanted to order everything from the restaurant’s menu!
Echo Valley, Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, and Hanging Coffins
The Echo Valley, Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, and Hanging Coffins are in one area, which was a relief for me (I was exhausted!) until I found out that we had to hike again.
We hiked (again) to the Hanging Coffins. They constructed flights of stairs, but they’re steep! If my knees could talk, they would have been screaming.
The Igorot people, an ethnic group who usually live in the mountains in Northern Luzon, have been practicing the hanging coffins ritual for centuries. Hanging the coffins helps in the quick passage of the spirits to heaven. Here are a couple of sites you can read on this ancient ritual.
Visitors must be careful at the small view deck for the hanging coffins. Everyone should also be mindful of the location. After all, it is a burial site. It could just be me, but I found it weird seeing people take selfies (with big smiles even) with the coffins as their background.
The Echo Valley, on the other hand, is visible along the way to the Hanging Coffins. Some tested the echo but were told to keep quiet out of respect for the residents.
So, that concludes our tour in Sagada. 🙂
On our way to Baguio, we stopped at the (previous) highest point in the Philippine Highway System located in Halsema Highway in Atok, Benguet, having an elevation of 2,255m (7,400ft) above sea level.
Glenn 50’s Diner
We arrived too late in Baguio to visit a strawberry farm, so we just had dinner at Glenn 50’s Diner. I was exhausted then, so I didn’t enjoy dinner anymore.
I forgot what I ordered. I think I had the Hot and Spicy Chicken. It was underwhelming and not spicy at all.
So the overnight trip ends there. It was a short but enjoyable experience, overall. I met new friends I am still in contact with through Facebook, which I think is cool. 🙂
Sagada Tour Itinerary
- 0900pm etd in manila
- 0600 Banaue ETA and breakfast
- 0700 Banaue ETD to sagada
- 0900 Sagada ETA and start of tour
- Sagada weaving
- Church of Saint Mary the Virgin
- Echo Valley
- Hanging Coffins
- 1200 Check-in and lunch
- 1400 Caving (Lumiang and Sumaguing Caves)
- 1700 Lake Danum (sunset)
- 1800 Back to accommodation then dinner/Free time
- 0430 Wakeup call
- 0500 Kiltepan (for sunrise viewing)
- 0630 Breakfast
- 0700 Marlboro Hills/Blue Soil
- 0900 Falls (small falls)
- 1130 Checkout
- 1200 Sagada ETD
- 1300 Lunch at Benguet
- 1430 Baguio ETA (La Trinidad)
- Strawberry farm
- 1800 Baguio ETD
- 2300 Manila ETA
Juvinile Travel and Tours
The travel agency we went with was Juvinile Travel and Tours. They offer many destination options and itineraries are pre-planned, which is rather convenient. The rates are not bad at all, considering the following inclusions:
- Entrance fees
- Breakfast (for some tours)
The management keeps in touch with their drivers to ascertain everyone’s safety and the tour is on time.
I’m not sponsored to do this post (in case it sounds like so 😋). I just had a good experience with the tour in spite of the uncontrollable circumstances.