I had more adventures planned for my time in Sagada. On the second day the weather was foggy and rainy, so I decided to go caving. The most ambitious tour is the “cave connection,” three hours of spelunking through two caves. And spelunking it was. This tour is not for the faint of heart or the out of shape. I was nervous about it, and originally planned to do the other, easier tour. But that one is only about an hour, and because of the weather, I wasn’t sure what I would do for the rest of the day. So I booked the big tour, and set out with my guide.

Being a cave, it’s pitch black inside. All the guides are equipped with gas lanterns, which they light up before going in. All of the Filipino tourists in town were going in, so there were a lot of guides, and hence, a lot of light in the cave. But there were so many people. There were many narrow bottlenecks, which required a lot of waiting.

When I’d get to the front of the bottlenecks, I’d be shocked at what I’d have to do. This was real spelunking. I had to shimmy through narrow holes, climb, and carefully navigate my way down holes, while hanging onto a rope. Luckily my guide made sure I didn’t fall. My of the obstacles were situations where I just did what I had to do without thinking about it. After all, there was no way to turn back, because the dozens of people behind me were impatiently waiting their turns.

The entrance to the cave
The entrance to the cave

There were a couple places I had to rappel, which was fun. At the bottom the rock was damp and slippery, so walking was difficult. This portion of the cave was packed with Filipinos using their selfie sticks. After getting my requisite shots in front of the weird rock formations, it was time to get in line for the climb out. Once the crowds in front of me made it, it was my turn to climb up the cliff using a rope.

After that intense experience, I wanted to get away from the crowds. Marlboro Country sounded like a good place to do it. No, I didn’t want to smoke, I wanted to hike to the grassy valley with the weird name. The tourist office was out of guides, but said I could do this on my own, so I set out.

I had a long walk on the road, and had to keep stopping for directions. It’s so nice that everyone speaks English. Even the old lady sitting by the road asked me where I was going, and directed me to the trail.

Traffic jam
Traffic jam

Once I was on the trail, it was muddy but pleasant. I was in the jungle, but the temperature was cool because of the elevation. There was so much vegetation there weren’t any views of the valley. I kept walking, hoping for a view, when some guides asked me where I was going. They said there wasn’t enough time to walk all the way through like I planned. I walked until 5 before retracing my steps. It was a shame, because it was a really nice hike.

I still had one more adventure planned in Sagada.

At the bottom of the cave.
At the bottom of the cave.
Rainbow in Marlboro Country.
Rainbow in Marlboro Country.
The trail was nice, but I never made it to the grassy lands.
The trail was nice, but I never made it to the grassy lands.
Terry
I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.

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