Sagada is one of the better tourist destinations in northern Philippines, located about 275 kilometers north of Manila. It is one of 10 towns of Mountain Province, a part of the Philippines’ Cordillera Region. Among other things, Sagada is known for its limestone caves. In fact, the favorite tourist attraction in Sagada based on online surveys is the Sumaging Cave, aptly nicknamed as the Big Cave.
Sumaging Cave is one of the many caves that form a network underneath Sagada. To visit the Sumaging Cave, a tourist or tourist groups need to register at the municipal registration center. The fee is P10 per person; roughly equivalent to $0.20. Currently, there are two options to explore Sumaging Cave. The first and less adventurous option is the spelunking activity limited to just the Big Cave. This activity would normally take two to three hours after entering the cave entrance. The second more adventurous option is the “Cave Connection”. The Cave Connection covers both Sumaging Cave and nearby Lumiang Cave. This could take as much as five or six hours. The cave connection is recommended for more intrepid visitors. For both options, the use of a licensed guide is mandatory. In the past decade or so, Sagada guides have improved on providing guide services to visitors.
Visitors may opt to ride a vehicle to the cave or to take the one-hour hike from the Sagada town center. The hike would give a chance for visitors to enjoy the rocky terrain covered with pine forests, one of the more beautiful sights in Sagada. The hike would lead the visitor from the town center, down to the central village of Dagdag and onto the village of Ambasing. The trail continues and after passing the village of Ambasing, a magnificent view of Sagada rice terraces can be viewed from the roadside.
The entrance to Sumaging Cave is not visible from the road. It is actually hidden and one has to go down a long flight of carved steps to reach the entrance. At the entrance of the cave, guides would light petromax lamps. As Sumaging is a fully subterranean cave, Sagada guides have to make sure that ample light is available to explore the caves.
Visitors to Sumaging Cave are always enthralled at its natural and splendid beauty. Sagada guides would point out certain rock formations which have already been named – these include The Frog, The Pregnant Lady, the King’s Curtain, The Cauliflower and many others. Glittering stalactites and stalagmites are shone upon by the light as one goes through the cave.
Indeed, a visit to the Sumaging Cave is a must-see for every Sagada visitor. The beauty of the cave is a representation of the over-all wonder of the town of Sagada – natural, fresh, sparkling and awesome.