The Philippines has some of the best cave complexes in Asia. The Calbiga caves in Samar is the second largest in Asia and stretches for seven miles. However, beginners may find the two to three day trek a little bit grueling. South of Manila is the beautiful limestone caves of the Sumaguing caves in Sagada. These caves are perfect for novices or first-timers, and the sights within are truly majestic.
Off to Adventure
As soon as you arrive in Manila, you can choose to rent a car or take public transportation to Sagada province. The public transport system in the Philippines can be a bit complicated and confusing, so it’s a lot more convenient to rent a car for the duration of your stay. Opt for an off-roader or an SUV, lock-in the location in your GPS system, and you can start driving north. The drive will take up to 10 hours, so it’s a good idea to switch drivers along the way or make a stop in Baguio City. Baguio is the last place you can top-up for gas and is a good place to spend the night. The drive from Baguio to Sagada takes around four to five hours, and you’ll be driving around mountains, so extra focus is required. Along the way, you’ll see the striking Banaue rice terraces, a UNESCO world heritage site and a sign that you are nearing your destination.
The Cave Complex
After arriving at Sagada, visit the Tourist Information Center to register your visit. You will need to pay environmental fees that amount to less than a dollar. You can choose to travel to different cave routes with the help of a guide. The Lumiang to Sumaguing cave route is the most popular route and the most challenging. The trek takes you deep into the caves, crossing underground pools of water and traversing beautiful limestone formations. Ropes are located along the cave route to help with the most difficult parts of the trek—both for safety and to make it easier for novices or the less fit. The whole trek can last four to five hours, including breaks and mandatory photo sessions.
Rules and Necessities
The most important rule in the cave is to stick with the group. Aside from that, a strict no littering and no vandalism rule is enforced. Bring a flashlight (preferably head mounted ones), sandals (because there are parts where you will need to go barefoot), and wear light or dry-fit clothing (because you’ll be wading in water). Make sure that your cameras are waterproof and bring waterproof casings for your phones. Use a small pack to hold your items and bring along a bottle of water or two.
Caving is one of the most thrilling adventures for beginners. It is one of the safest and most inexpensive adventures that you can try with little or no experience necessary. You get to conquer your fear of the dark, closed spaces, and the unknown—all the while basking in majestic views that you can share with your friends and loved ones.