When a little trip turns into an underground adventure
After an active morning we went to explore Sagada and its surroundings. We followed a road and hiked our way to wherever. We had fun and made pictures along the way. Suddenly on the way back, we bumped into a foreign couple asking us if we knew where the ‘caves’ were.
We didn’t know where the entrance was located, but we discovered the entrance of Lumiang cave by accident. We stood right next to the entrance up the hill and coincidentally looked down and discovered some stairs going down. We all went down the trail and the first thing we saw were the coffins piled up against the rock walls. A sign saying ‘please do not steal anything inside the coffins’ welcomed us.
When we came nearer to the entrance we saw three people (a guide and two tourists) standing on some rocks. We asked them what they were doing, the guide replied he was preparing for a hike and asked us to join him for the normal fee (P 400 / € 6,50 per person*). We didn’t hesitate and said yes immediately. Awesome!
The other foreign couple did hesitate and didn’t want to pay for the guide. We entered the cave and we noticed that the couple tried to follow us with nothing but a cellphone light. Highly irresponsible. You really need a strong and reliable lantern, since there’s total darkness and a skilled guide is needed to lead you the way. There are very dangerous cliffs in the cave, which can be very deceiving at first sight. Entering without a guide is not recommended, the risks are too high and you can get easily lost without anyone noticing. You can visit until the entrance all by your own though.
After a while we didn’t see their light anymore and they went back, maybe they just wanted the 10 minutes experience.. or they noticed it was too dangerous. It is possible though to only hike through the Lumiang cave, which takes a shorter amount of time. But you need to tell your guide your preferences.
We were quite unprepared for this hike since we spontaneously bumped into a guide. We were walking on flip flops, carrying a big backpack and a camera bag while holding the camera since we didn’t want to miss any moment. We do recommend you to wear clothes than can get dirty, good shoes (or like us: bare foot), a camera to capture the underground landscape, water for hydration, money for the guide and a drink after. Last but not least, some swimwear if you’d like to swim in the underground (cold!) pools.
The cave connection was thé highlight of our short visit to Sagada. It was truly a spelunking trek through the unknown underground world and through the habitat of bats. It’s such a nice natural adventure, nothing is made safe. And this is exactly why it’s so adventurous, humans are just the visitors not the designers. Although there are some ropes et cetera to make climbing easier, since you have to climb up a rock with flowing water.
It’s pretty surreal to walk under the ground of human life. There’s total darkness if the lantern is switched off, the ground is cold and so is the water running through the caves. There’s silence and an occasional bat sound or water flowing nearby. There are cliffs in the cave, which give you fantastic views of the stone formations, pools and small waterfalls.
We did manage to hike this trail in 4 hours together with the two other pinay tourists and with little ease, but this hike is slightly for ‘sporty’ people if we can call it like that. If you’re not that into sports, that doesn’t mean you can’t do this hike. You just need to know that you’ll be crawling through very dark and narrow holes, climbing up ropes, standing on your guides shoulders to pull yourself up, jumping from slippery rocks et cetera. We do really recommend this to everyone and shout to broaden your limits!
Afterwards, after the hike, the photo moments or maybe swimming moments, you’ll see daylight for the first time in hours again. But first, you need to walk through the last parts of the (Sumaging) cave, which is also where the majority of bats are (and their bat poop!). Since we were walking on bare foot, our feet were totally smudged with bat poop. Vincent lost his flip flops somewhere, so if you find them.. we’re still here on this lovely earth and not down some cliff! Or you can just have them, free flip flops!
Anyway, the way back out of the cave is just amazing. It’s like a movie scene, where you slowly walk past flora, climbing the stairs to daylight. And then, you buy some drinks, wash of the bat poop and walk back the road to the Sagada center again (20 minutes). It started raining when we did that, but we really didn’t care.
– Vincent and Johanna
* Note: all the prizes are according to the exchange rate at the time of traveling