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Tropical Experience Travel Services - Tours of the Philippines
Ifugao - Mountain Province
It’s true that the Philippines may have some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, but, we don’t stop there. You can choose to have another experience and go to the countryside up the mountains, have a fresh escape in a place where it is always fresh as spring.
The destinations we propose here are located on way up north of Manila in Luzon, the Ifugao and Mountain Provinces.
The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordillera (Ifugao Province) are often featured in international guides and travel magazines. Five of the sites around the town of Banaue are in the UNESCO Heritage list, specifically the rice terraces of Batad, Bangaan, Mayoyao, Hungduan and Nagacadan. This amazing landscape is 2000 years old and is made with terraces, carved by indigenous and maintained through the years, where a manually made hydric system provide irrigation for rice fields.
You can have a majestic view of the terraces where you can go trekking into as well. All these are at 1500 meters of altitude. It is a surprising fusion of nature and human action, forming a special geography that is extraordinarily extended to more than 10,000 square kilometers. So majestic that the place is often dubbed as “The 8th Wonder of the World”.
The agricultural area is still populated by indigenous with whom it is easy to interact with, especially if we choose a more sustainable “homestay” instead of a hotel. The Igorot culture is another interesting tile in the very diverse mosaic of Philippines’ traditions and ethnic groups.
Rice is still the main component of the Filipino meal and this spectacular landscape demonstrates how important alimentation is for the modification of the environment. Recently, interventions were being implemented to fight erosion and preserve this area for both agricultural and touristic purposes. In the area, programs for the valorization of an organic, high quality and GMO-free agriculture are also implemented. A plan for protection and development of the area, with restoration of abandoned terraces was successfully implemented (in 2012 the area was removed from the World Heritage List in Danger).
You can read more about Banaue on our blog here.
Moving to Mountain Province (2 hours from Banaue) we find another popular spot: Sagada. Sagada is a small tourist-friendly town, mainly developed on one road, with plenty of home-style accommodations.
Several destinations for trekking, hiking and spelunking (with different levels of difficulty) made this place popular among active and adventurous tourists, but the most special feature is probably the “hanging coffins”. It shows a traditional way of burying people that is still used today. A trekking to the Echo Valley will let you observe this extraordinary funeral tradition.
Other interesting attractions are the tall waterfalls and the possibility to watch the sunrise from the top “above” the clouds, a stunning view as the sun rises and shines its rays on the beautiful rice terraces “below” you.
If you didn’t have enough of mountains, you can consider also Baguio, in the near Benguet Province. It is a city located at 1,600 meters and it counts around 300,000 inhabitants. Founded by Americans, it is called “The Summer Capital of the Philippines” because it is here that Filipinos escape from the hottest season of the year. It is easy to find strawberries all through the year as they can be grown only in this altitude in the tropical Philippines. You can even harvest them with your group in some local strawberry farms.
Streets and touristic areas are decorated by flowers and gardening. The city is covered with pine trees that form an interesting landscape mixing tropical nature with the one closer to European mountains and hills. If you happen to book your trip to Baguio in the middle of February, you would be lucky the Panagbenga Festival, a grand flower float parade in the streets, a colorful festival of flowers, music and dancing.