Three days hike through the rice terraces of Banaue, Pula, Cambulo, Batad, lubuong, Nungulunan and Bogyah.
Located in Luzon, in the Ifugao mountains, these ingenious rice terraces are sometimes called the 8th world wonder and rightfully so! These magnificent rice terraces are beside listed as World Heritage of Humanity.
Going to Banaue is an expedition in itself, it is not very complicated, but it’s long, approximatively nine hours’ drive from Manila. I arrived by night, under the rain and exhausted by the trip. I immediately appreciated the welcome to the Banaue Homestay hotel, kindness of the family, good meal, and room very clean with hot water! For the breakfast, the view from the balcony is just amazing “welcome to Banaue”!
The system of irrigated rice terraces in the mountains of north-central Luzon were created more than 2,000 years ago by the Ifugao people. Despite possessing only basic tools, the Ifugao created an engineering marvel: a vast network of rice terraces sustained by an elaborated irrigation system. According to reports, the terraces—which resemble steps carved into the mountainside—cover some 4,000 square miles (10,360 square km), and their total length is estimated at approximately 12,500 miles (20,100 km), roughly half the Earth’s circumference. In 1995 various sections of the terraces were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, described as “a living cultural landscape of unparalleled beauty.”
Located 1,500 meters above sea level, Banaue is a municipality of Ifugao Province in the Philippines, where the indigenous culture still thrives up to this day. When coming to Banaue, you should leave all your luxuries behind and, if you can, disconnect from the rest of the world. The simplicity of life of the Ifugao people is admirable. Banaue is a stopover town from where most tourists start their tour of the Ifugao region. The Ifugaos are composed of sub-groups. The major sub-groups are the Ayangan, Kalanguya and Tuwali. The sub-grouping was based largely on the differences of dialects and were named after the dialects that each speaks.
My guide was John, Johnsen Roa, from Banaue, former farmer who knows the region as well as its habits and customs. The rice culture does not seems to have secret for him. Unlike some treks that are organized in advance, here many tourists arrive without having reserved anything and it is early in the morning on arrival at Banaue that everything is set up. I confess I was really happy to have adopted another approach. According to the feedback I could have, I was in good hands with John. He took care of everything, transportation, accommodation, food, etc. We lived three days together, far away of my world, and John is uncontested a really good guide. Nice and generous, he was always available and adapted to me as best as possible. His contact is: email@example.com
On the first day we walked for about 7 hours from Pulo to Campulo where we arrive after 20 km. Especially the last hours were amazing walking right through the terraces. John had been keen to show me schools and everywhere the children’s welcome was amazing. I will never forget their smiles! We stayed in a little guesthouse in town. No direct road to the village, the local people have to carry everything on their back. Incredibly warm and simple people. After my day of walking, I admit I slept quite well.
The next day we walked up the hill to Batad and enjoyed the amazing view. We went through the village to go to the waterfall before taking a lunch with a breathtaking view of Batad. And then, we made the 3 hours walk to Tappiyah and Lanah where we were picked up again by a tricycle to join Banaue.
The last day we walked from Banaue to Bogyah, via Lubuong and Nungulunan. A last day really hard with rain all the way long. It was difficult to enjoy this day because when it rains everything turns into mud and it becomes very slippery. I was completely soaking wet. I needed all my concentration to walk on the slippery stones of the terraces ledges. A wrong step could be fatal. When I reached Nunguluan, after almost 20 km under the rain, I could not be really happier. We just saw nothing. The lesson is, do not hesitated to make a couple of changes to your itinerary if you touch your physical or mental limits on the way. John will not put the limits for you as nothing seems undoable for him. Also, when the weather is really bad, it is completely stupid to try the adventure!
Except this last day, it was an outstanding trekking. For those who have not been to Batad, this is one of the most awesome places you must see in the Philippines. It is very nice hikes connected with meeting local people. Certainly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been!