Your Sagada Adventure will never be complete without visiting its majestic caves. One of which is the Sumaguing Cave located at the southern part of the municipality. This is the first cave I ever visited and I was awestruck to its ancient wonder and glory. Here’s our experience and travel guide to Sumaguing Cave. (Post Updated: November 2, 2020)
Sumaguing Cave: Cultural Significance
Caves play an important role in the culture of the people in Sagada. In terms of burial traditions, their ancestors place the coffins of the dead in the entrance of a cave. This symbolizes protection for the souls of the dead. Since western culture and Episcopalian belief is now more prominent in this region, this tradition is barely done anymore.
After our memorable hike to Bomod-ok falls, we went south of the municipality and visited one of the deepest cave in the Philippines, the Sumaguing Cave.
Our Experience in Sumaguing Cave
I wasn’t prepared for this adventure and I thought the Sumaguing Cave would have a huge mouth entrance filled with beautiful rock formations and pointy stalactites in the ceiling. My illustration of a cave was a bit cartoonish since I’ve never been to a cave before. I was nervous but my excitement dominates my anxiety.
Upon arrival in the jump-off area, there’s an info board on the side of a concrete staircase leading to the entrance of the cave. It is said that the Sumaguing Cave is the deepest cave in the Philippines with a depth of more than 500 feet. I was amazed when I knew this and wondered how nature were able to form such amazing shallow structures like the Sumaguing Cave. After which, we descended to the stairs and my eyes grew wide when I saw the gigantic entrance zone of the cave.
The Entrance Zone of Sumaguing Cave
My first impressions were all wrong as we reached the entrance of the cave. The mouth is populated with random speleothems in the ground and stalactites in the ceiling like a medieval vault.
Plant life is also rich in this area due to the enormous natural light source. I stood in awe as the entryway of the cave towered over us; like a giant welcoming us in his lair.
There’s a black pit of endless darkness on the other side of the entrance. One of our guides told us that the black pit was actually a ravine that we have to climb down later on. Some tourists who visited this place turned around and cowered because of its sinister atmosphere. Instead of being frightened from their stories, we just shook it off and enjoyed this unique adventure. We paused for a while and observed our guides lighting up our gaseras (lamp).
As our guides finished lighting our lamps, we offered a prayer before moving on to the deeper levels of the cave.
Through The Deep
Natural light starts to diminish as we enter into the deeper parts of the cave. We heard a lot of bats swarming in the ceiling of the cave near the entrance with manure polluting the floor.
My heart was racing fast when we reached the ravine that we have to climb down. The trail was uneasy, steep and slippery. One wrong move then we’ll fall in the waiting pits. As we descend through the ravine, the environment becomes cold and our breaths started to mist.
As we reached the end of the ravine, I looked up and saw the height of the cliff we just braved. It was outrageous! I never thought that I’ll be able to climb down such steep terrain. From the end of the ravine, our guides started introducing some interesting rock formations.
These rock formations are created due to weathering and years of geologic events. They are saturated with yellow to orange hue. It’s even more beautiful especially if these rocks are illuminated with our lamps. I’ve read some write ups about this place and researchers found some fossils of marine life in this cave suggesting that Sumaguing Cave was once part of a large body of water millions of years ago.
Check Out our Vlog in Sumaguing Cave
Sinter pools were also present in this cave and the water is really cold yet comforting to our tired feet.
We also have to rappel down in deeper areas of the cave wherein more beautiful rock formations are revealed.
Generally, spelunking in Sumaguing Cave is both a test of physical fitness and an unforgettable experience of exploring the unknown.
We climbed back up to the mouth of the cave safely and with great relief. At the end, we offered a prayer of thanksgiving before heading back to the jump off point.
Sagada Cave Travel Guide
Spelunking in Sumaguing Cave is one of the highlights of our trip wherein we experienced a different form of adventure. We also learned stories from the locals and encountered amazing rock formations.
As travelers, we must respect the culture and values of the places we visit. Every tourist attraction in Sagada is guarded heavily with cultural norms and directives from the elders. As a rule of thumb, just take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.
Prior to your spelunking adventure, I recommend visiting the Sagada Municipal Tourist Information Center first located in Poblacion, Sagada, Mountain Province, 2619, Philippines.[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d3813.761530743739!2d120.89850061411634!3d17.084313415973604!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x338fd32b8eb30483%3A0xa9cebefb83b579e2!2sSagada+Municipal+Tourist+Information+Center!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sph!4v1500538594246&w=800&h=450]
The tourist information center is open every 0700H in the morning and closes at 1800H in the evening. Pay the environmental fee of ₱40 and select your own tour.[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d3814.141531675544!2d120.90072151443358!3d17.065728388272127!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x338fd32df3c00a55%3A0xf66eabeb16f33737!2sSumaging+Cave!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sph!4v1500540828216&w=800&h=450]
Spelunking Options and Fees
The fee depends on the number of participants visiting a cave. Treat this fee as a donation to the locals of Sagada. They utilize these funds for preserving the environment which keeps the whole municipality pristine and safe. Here are the different caving options in Sagada.
Short Course Caving
This activity is good for beginners with duration of 1.5 to 2 hours of exploration. The cave that you will visit is the Sumaguing Cave.
|NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS||GUIDE FEE|
|4 pax or less||₱800 (with 1 guide)|
|5 pax||₱900 (with 1 guide)|
|6-9 pa||₱1600 (with 2 guides)|
|10 pax||₱1800 (with 2 guides)|
|11-12 pax||₱2400 (with 3 guides)|
|13 pax or more||₱200 per person|
A two-way transportation service from the tourist information center to the cave is also available at ₱350.[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d3814.0753012561036!2d120.90136431443362!3d17.068968988270104!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x338fd33645ab9415%3A0xb998335eb07a2a6a!2sLumiang+Cave!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sph!4v1500540798877&w=800&h=450]
This is a more physically challenging activity because the trail will start from the Lumiang Burial Cave going to the Sumaguing Cave with a total of 4-5 hours of exploration time.
The guide fee costs ₱1,000 for 2 visitors or less with an additional ₱500 for an extra participant. Two-way transportation is also available for ₱400.
The guides told me that the Crystal Cave is the most technical of all. The price is more expensive with a visitor/guide ratio of 1:1. It is built for professionals and well-experienced spelunkers because of its difficulty. Here, the guides need to build their own ropes and harness for safety of the visitors. This adventure costs ₱2,500 per pax. It is also less advertised since they want to preserve the beauty of this cave.
- For spelunking activities, you must wear loose clothing (shirts, pants or shorts). Wearing of rubber sandals, flip-flops or rubber shoes is recommended.
- It is prohibited to enter the Sumaguing Cave after 1600H for safety purposes.
- No urinating inside the cave. No vandalism.
- Do not leave your trash inside the cave.
Best Months to Visit Sumaguing Cave
It is safe to visit this place during the summer season due to less rains. Summer in the Philippines runs from March to early weeks of June. During rainy season, the cave’s water level rises and becomes unsafe for locals and travelers.
For further information, please visit the Facebook page of Sagada Municipal Tourist Information Center or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
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