From Manila we took a coach north to Baguio, spent the night there and then had a 5 hour coach journey on my birthday to our destination in the mountains, Sagada.
On our way to the accommodation it began to rain so once we sorted ourselves out we wandered up the road and did some caving. We spent about 2 hours in the cave with our guide. After we passed the overhead bats swiftly, for fear of being shat on and to avoid the horrendous smell, we headed deep into the caves navigating slippery rocks and pools. It was great fun scrambling and squeezing between the rocks and pulling ourselves up the ropes.
The next day we explored the rice terraces. The maps are all touristy maps that aren’t to scale and they don’t seem to have OS type maps, possibly because they want you to hire a guide. We did our best at navigating the unmarked paths by ourselves, it was fun but we ended up walking on the perimeter of the rice terraces where I think only the farmers had walked before. We did meet a rather large obstacle on route, an angry buffalo. As we slowly approached he stared at us and walked towards us. He had a rope through his nose but we could see the rope was loose and didn’t look attached at the other end. We weren’t brave enough to get any closer and couldn’t get round by going lower because the valley was too steep. Eventually we decided that in order to negotiate the buffalo we would have to approach closer this time and passed the steep valley. We were ready to bolt at any time, we were hoping that the buffalo wasn’t going to. He step towards us and we jumped down the nearest bank as he stared us down but did not come any closer. The rest of the walk was full of fantastic views of the rice terraces down the valley.
The Bokong waterfall also took some hunting but we found it with some help from the locals. I had fun jumping off the rocks 4m above the 15m deep plunge pool with the locals and Dutch guy we met. He told us the route for underground river so we tracked the river to the caves and negotiated the pebbly river bed wearing our head torches. The 300m stretch was a bit eerie and also had bats but we made it 🙂
We did 34km/21 miles of walking today and feel shattered but good having exerted ourselves. We deserved our dinner and luxury lava cake.