Sagada is a high-altitude municipality located within the Mountain Province of the Philippines. It boasts a handful of attractions from beautiful rice terraces, majestic waterfalls, wondrous panorama of mountain range and rich culture. Aside from these, Sagada is also surrounded with a number of caves great for spelunking.

Cultural Significance

For the people of Sagada, caves are important part of their culture especially in their burial traditions. Their ancestors put the coffins of the dead in the orifice of a cave which allows light to illuminate them. 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 the deepest cave in the Philippines, Sumaguing Cave.

The Grandfather of Caves

I wasn’t prepared for this adventure. I imagined this cave would have a huge mouth entrance filled with beautiful rock formations and pointy stalactites in the ceiling. I imagined it simply though since I’ve never been to a cave before. I was a bit 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 awestruck when I knew this and wondered how nature were able to form such amazing shallow structures like the Sumaguing cave.

As we descend through the stairs, my eyes grew wide when I saw the gigantic entrance zone of the cave.

Photo of Entrance in Sumaguing Cave in Sagada, Philippines

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.

Photos of plant life in Sumaguing Cave

Photos of plant life in Sumaguing Cave in the entrance

Plant life is also rich in this area due to the enormous light source of the sun. I stood in awe as the entryway of the cave towered over us like a giant welcoming us in their lair.

Photo of Sumaguing Cave entrance in Sagada Philippines

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 their backs 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).

Photo of a tour guide lighting up a lamp in Sumaguing Cave

As our guides finished lighting our lamps, we offered a simple prayer before moving on to the deeper levels of the cave.

Photo inside of the sumaguing cave

Through The Twilight Zone

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 which makes the ground slippery.

My heartbeat was racing when we reached the ravine that we have to climb down. The trail was uneasy, steep and slippy. One wrong move or else we’ll fall in the waiting pits. As we descend through the ravine, our breath started to mist and the environment becomes colder and colder.

Photo of the ravines in Sumaguing Cave

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 in the cave.

Photo of a tour guide explaining the rock formations in Sumaguing Cave

Photos of rock formation in Sumaguing Cave

Photo of a beautiful rock formation in Sumaguing Cave Sagada

Due to weathering and various geologic events, these rock formations are created. They are fascinating with yellow to orange color. 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 which suggests that Sumaguing was once part of a large body of water millions of years ago.

Photo of sinter pools in sumaguing cave in sagada

Sinter pools were also present in this cave and the water is really cold yet comforting to our tired feet.

Photo of rappel

We also have to rappel down in deeper areas of the cave wherein more beautiful rock formations are found.

Our group photo after visiting Sumaguing Cave in Sagada
We conquered Sumaguing Cave!

Generally, spelunking in Sumaguing cave is both a test of physical fitness and an unforgettable experience of exploring the unknown.

Photo of the entrance in Sumaguing Cave

We climbed back up to the mouth of the cave safely and with great relief. In the end, we again offered a prayer of thanksgiving before heading back to the jump off point.

Photo of trail going to Sumaguing Cave

Here’s our video about this wonderful adventure in Sumaguing Cave!


Sagada Caves Travel Guide

Spelunking in Sumaguing Cave is one of the highlights of our trip. Experience a different form of adventure, learn stories from the locals and encounter amazing rock formations.

Photo of an infoboard in Sumaguing Cave

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, visit first the Sagada Municipal Tourist Information Center located in Poblacion, Sagada, Mountain Province, 2619, Philippines.

The tourist information center is open every 0700H in the morning and closes at 1800H in the evening. Pay the environmental fee of ₱35 and select your own tour.

Photo of tour guides educating the visitors

Spleunking 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 ₱500
5 pax ₱600
6-9 pa ₱1000 (with 2 guides)
10 pax ₱1200 (with 2 guides)
11-12 pax ₱1500 (with 3 guides)
13 pax or more ₱125 per person

A two-way transportation service from the tourist information center to the cave is also available at ₱350.

Cave Connection

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 ₱800 for 2 visitors or less with an additional ₱400 for an extra participant. Two-way transportation is also available for ₱400.

Crystal Cave

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.

Photo of a tour guide in sumaguing cave in Sagada

Safety Reminders

  • For spelunking activities, you must wear loose clothing (shirts, pants or shorts). Rubber sandals, flip-flops and rubber shoes are also recommended by our guides.
  • No entrance to the cave after 1600H in the afternoon for safety.
  • No urinating inside the cave. No vandalism.
  • Do not leave your trash inside the cave.

For further information, please visit the Facebook page of Sagada Municipal Tourist Information Center or email them at sagada.mayor@gmail.com


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7 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing an informative post about Sumaguing cave. I explored a cave in Andaman islands. It was called the Limestone caves and I realised that caves can give us invaluable knowledge about the Mother Earth and how it came into being. This post is another one that lets me in on it.

    Like

  2. Amusing! I actually learned a lot from this post. Didn’t know that spelunking in Sagada would cost only that much. Plus, you mentioned the technicality of Cave Connection. That one, we must really try! At least now I know how I will budget stuff when we get there ^_^

    Like

  3. Wow, what a beautiful Cave that you guys have explored. I haven’t been here, but I’ve been reading great stories of this cave. Those beautaiful stalactites, stalagmites and columns are really beyond compare. Truly, sumaguing Cave has so much of mineral formations that will surely capture the heart of every traveler that enter in its world. Thank you so much for sharing your great adventure with us.

    Liked by 1 person

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