La Union, Sagada, a Road Trip towards North Luzon p.1

 

Part 1: La Union, Sagada and Ifugao are towns far off the northern part of luzon and a great destination to those who want to seek real adventure and discover majestic places. Nature at its finest is waiting to be explored with caves, waterfalls, rice terraces and you also get to see the culture of the people living in these places. Updated April 2016

So we had an opportunity to have a week long road trip towards North Luzon and decided to try another loop traversing the mountanous ranges with a magestic view of the terraces of the North. Our drive took us about 5 hrs to our first stop in San Juan, La Union thanks to the extension of TPLEX which gave us a seamless ride from Manila to Pangasinan via NLEX-SCTEX-TPLEX express way. We had already been to the northern tip of Luzon and have done a La Union-Ilocos-Pagudpud road trip so we tried the other route sidewards taking the challenging drive of the mountain ranges while exploring the scenic view of the rice fields.

First Stop: San Juan, La Union

We stayed at this newly opened Resort Villas Buenavista coming from a long haul drive from Manila. The resort is quiet big and situated in San Juan fronting the beach and has a nice swimming pool. The rooms are a bit expensive but you get what you pay for. Resort can be searched in google maps and has a facebook account.

https://www.google.com.ph/maps/place/Villas+Buenavista+(Hotel+and+Restaurant)/@16.6710718,120.3332278,188m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x33918d8366bcd22d:0xd6c6b805617dd8a2!8m2!3d16.6710705!4d120.333775?hl=en

Before sun down we headed down to Urbiztondo where the famous surfing capital of the North is situated.

Entrance to the surfing beach can be accessed in Se-bay Resort, google coordinate below

https://www.google.com.ph/maps/place/Manor,+San+Fernando,+La+Union/@16.6573902,120.3207709,18z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m8!1m2!2m1!1surbiztondo+la+union!3m4!1s0x33918d9547d82215:0x3317f41522e500b5!8m2!3d16.6573876!4d120.3218652?hl=en

Surfing Lessons are available in the area depending on your chosen package. The beach is a good learning environment for beginners and you can opt to have a board rental for one hour with an instructor present for a rate of 400 Php. A lot of good restaurants  at a good price are also packed in the highway street near the surfing area.

Next Stop: That thing called Sagada

The following morning we headed up for another long drive towards Sagada via Tagudin-Cervantes Road for a long and winding 4-5 hr drive.

Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 3.00.17 PM

When you use google maps, your point of destination would be Sagada Municipal Tourist Center where all the tours are also organised. The tourism office serves as the registration and  starting point for your guided tours. You need to register and log your visit with the tourism office and acquire a guided tour package (by group).

google coordinates below:

https://www.google.com.ph/maps/place/Sagada+Municipal+Tourist+Information+Center/@17.0843134,120.8985006,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x338fd32b8eb30483:0xa9cebefb83b579e2!8m2!3d17.0843083!4d120.9006893?hl=en

Here are some of the tour packages you can book at the tourism office

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echo valley
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cave connection
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Sumaguing cave
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Balangagan cave

Sumaguing Cave: for the explorer in you

Upon our arrival we immediately book a guided tour for our family for a short course exploration of Sumaguing Cave. For a group of four, we pay 500 Php for the tour guide. The entrance to the cave is a bit far to walk so we took our car with the Tour guide going to site, otherwise you may need transportation going there.

Things to Prepare:

  1. Wear comfortable clothes and expect to get wet, sandals or flip-flops are okay (you will remove them anyway once you traverse the slippery rocks.
  2. Bring a waterproof camera if you want to take pictures, you can bring SLR but make sure you have a dry bag with you.
  3. Bring also waterproof lighting/ flash lights, although the guide also has his lantern with him for the group.
  4. Leave your gadgets and any valuable belongings before taking this tour. They will get wet or maybe lost when you do your “spiderman” moves going up and down the trail.
  5. Bring a bottle of water, it may take you hours to come back from the trail and make sure you have gone to the toilet before entering the cave.
  6. I can recommend this for kids above 6 y.o. but this tour is not for senior citizens and the faint hearted.

The tour took 2.5 hours to traverse from descending to climbing back up again. Last entrance to the cave is at 4pm so when we came back it was already dark at night. It was one of the most challenging cave explorations we’ve done and i got a little scared for my kids when we went down on waist deep cold waters of the cave.

 

video link of the kids descent on Sumaguing cave https://vimeo.com/172203878

Kiltepan View: Catching Sunrise

https://www.google.com.ph/maps/place/Kiltepan+View/@17.0766206,120.9016987,15.71z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x338fd2dc3d7a16af:0xf4e637861038635f!8m2!3d17.0924548!4d120.9145188?hl=en

You have to wake up early to catch the sunrise at Kiltepan View and if you are luck enough you may even see the “sea of clouds” below the the rising sun. For us, we were already there at 4:30 AM waiting for sunrise taking some hot choco and coffee with us but was not lucky enough to have a postcard photo of the sunrise. The cold breeze of the early morning wind was refreshing for us and you could this environment elsewhere in the city. We were only able to catch a glimpse of the risen sun covered with a shadow of clouds.

Echo Valley Tour

After our Kiltepan early morning call, we headed over to see the echo village tour where the famous hanging coffins of Sagada lies. Since we are quiet early, we headed directly to Eco Valley without having reserved a tour from the tourism office. Fortunately there was a tour guide available at the entrance to the tour so we just got him and gave 250 Php for the short tour. Our guide was also a native of the land and his father who in 2005 was one of last who was buried in the hanging coffin (coffin labelled Bomit-Og)

Trekking: Bomod-Ok Falls and the traversing the rice terraces

https://www.google.com.ph/maps/@17.0901908,120.9160648,2500m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

The next day, we headed over for a cold swim in Bomod-Ok falls where you can also see the majestic view of Sagada’s very own rice terraces. For this trek you need a tour guide which is also available when you reach the end of the road to the starting point of the trail.  You pay the tour guide a fee of 500 Php which will lead your group thru the 30 minute trail traversing the village and rice terraces. You can get wooden sticks in the starting point to help you trek the up and down trail. Make sure to pack lite, wear comfortable trekking footwear and carry enough water with you.

video link on our trek towards the falls https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYvr9WTYB4E

Trekking the terraces was a great experience for us, you get to be up-close to this wonder of human creation

Part 2: Our Drive from Sagada towards Ifugao and the UNESCO World Heritage the Banaue Rice Terraces

To follow soon in my next post

 

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