Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Backpacking Sagada: Lumiang and Sumaguing Cave Connection

Our adventure on our second day was a bit extreme, but we were really up to it. We signed up the pervious day for a Cave Connection tour to go spelunking at Lumiang and Sumaguing Caves which is a very popular activity here in Sagada.

We met with Denise, whom we met at the Municipal Hall the previous day and texted us to ask if she could join us. Of course we agreed since we wanted to have a new friend and also to cut costs of the guide fee.

We met up at the Town Municipal Hall at around 8am in the morning. Since they said that there are other solo travellers that would like to join, we went to the nearest bakery first to buy some bread for breakfast. This is the only food we had that morning and it was enough for the morning's adventure.

Our Guide, Kuya Frenzel

The fee for the Cave Connection is PHP1,200 for the guides. This can be divided according to how many are you in a group, however, they follow a certain ratio for the guides there. A guide can accommodate only 3-4 guests and if your group is more than that number, better have another one. It is better to have paid extra since these guides are really good and will surely take care of you. It is better that they guide fewer people as to learn more with them as well as be safe on the obstacles that you will encounter in the cave.

After buying and returning to the Municipal Hall, we met with our guide, Kuya Frenzel. He fetched us there and we followed him down town going to the caves. He brought us to a viewing deck where you can see some more hanging coffins at the cliff. He explained their customs to us as we enjoyed the nice view. He got some gears while we took pictures there and waited for him. After a while, we continued to walk going to the entrance of Lumaguing Cave.

Cliffs near the caves

Hanging Coffin visible from the view deck
You need to go to the trail going down to the entrance of the cave. You can easily see the huge entrance as you come near. As you get there, you will see a lot of hanging coffins at the entrance. It is piled at the walls of the cave up to the high ceiling.

road signs

entrance of Lumiang Cave

Before entering, Kuya Frenzel told us about the hanging coffins. We learned a lot about their customs and traditions on it. He said that they have different burial sights for different kinds of deaths. Those coffins there are the remains of those who died of old age. Those who died of disease are in a different site. The infants are burried in their own homes because they believed that those little ones still needs to be taken care of their families.

pile of coffins on the walls of the cave

one along the path you'd walk along

some opened coffins with some bones sticking out

Some of the coffins there have fallen from where they were hangged during an earthquake years before. This caused the coffins to be broken and the bones to be exposed. Some of the remains are still scatered at the entrance part of the cave.

some skulls from the coffins which fell during the eathquake

As our guide prepared the lamp that we will use inside the cave, we grabbed the opportunity to take photos around. After a while, we were all ready and our adventure began.

Going in small cracks in the cave is what you need to expect here. There are a lot of obstacles and even rope segments around to complete the experience. The cave is damp and expect to slide down once in a while. Just remember to keep low and everything will be okay.

What is the proper attire here? A nice pair of shorts or jogging pants or leggings and slippers. It is better to wear slippers as you would walk bare feet most of the time. It is less slippery that way and it is a better grip when going down some rocks and cracks. Also, make sure to waterproof your cameras as there are some parts where you would walk on water. A plastic bag would do just to slip it in whenever you'd cross some water. Be prepared to get wet and dirty here!

our caving attire, shirt shorts and our bare foot!
Here are some photos inside the cave:

going down the rope segment

Banaue Rice Terraces-like formations

sparkling cave walls

mini underground river

"Grand Canyon" 

Hay stalk

sliding through the holes

hmmm.. what do you think this is?

Birthday Cake

King's Courtain

The Spa

amazing stone formations

The cave has a central chamber where the three caves will meet, LumiangSumaguing and Crystal Caves. Usually, for the Cave Connection, you'd go inside Lumiang Cave and exit at SumaguingCrystal Cave is more technical and requires gears and a lot of courage to go into. If you prefere an easier challenge, just avail of the Sumaguing Cave where you'd enter and exit on the same area. It is much challenging doing the cave connection as it takes only 2-4 hours and you could still do some other activities after.

Inside the cave, there are different obstacles to overcome. You need to duck, jump to the next rock, squeeze yourself through small openings, go down with ropes, cross waters, go down a steep rock, go up again and a lot more. You will encounter mud and cold water, and of course guanosGuanos are the bat's droppings. There are a lot of bats inside the cave. there are fruit bats and those insect eating ones. They are all at the ceiling and it is quite difficult to locate them as the cave is dark, however, you can hear them all.

caving rules at the entrance/exit of Sumaguing Cave

We exit at Sumaguing Cave. It was quite different from the Lumaguing Cave entrance. It was more established and there is a man made stairs going up to the main road. The entrance here is much larger and as you exit, you can go to the rest area where you can wash up before you return to town.

Exit of the cave, Sumaguing Cave
Our guide was so nice to have taken care of us and have given us a lot of information back inside the cave. He told us about the formations and what they call them there. He was really amazing as he mix the facts on his jokes perfectly well. He tells us a lot of stories and have taught us a lot on especially on taking care of nature. He even gave us some berries that he found along the road. They call it winter berries and it tasted really good, a mix of sweet and sour in your pallet. We were glad to have got Kuya Frenzel as our guide there.

Winter Berries

My friend Claire, lost her slippers here so, she walked from inside the cave, going out, all the way to town bare foot. It was a nice experience since we were all walking on the streets of Sagada, dirty and wet. The mid noon sun was drying us up as we went back to our inn.

Sagada Cave Man, where you can wash up

goodbye slippers!

We didn't eat lunch because we wanted to push with the planned activities that afternoon and so, the winter berries are all that we had then.

road going back to town

It was a fun and challenging activity that is one of the must experience here in Sagada. Everyone should experience the Cave Connection of the famous caves here. At the end of the day, be proud that you survived and conquered Lumiang and Sumaguing Cave!

I survived Cave Connection!

More on my Sagada Adventure:
Birthday Weekend at Sagada

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