Banaue Rice Terraces: 5 days exciting tour

Asia | | November 30, 2010 at 12:24 am


On my former trips to many Asian countries, I have seen many rice fields, but have never come across the rice fields that are compatible with the splendor and the steep scale of the Banaue Rice Terraces. The hilly rice terraces of Banaue are the mankind’s largest engineering accomplishment as the vertical space from top to bottom rows is more beyond the altitude of the tallest structure in the world. And further, if someone would manage to lay these Philippine rice terraces end to end, then they have the capability to cover around half way across the world. Do you want to know who carved it? The Banaue Rice Terraces were carved by the ancestors of the present cultivators now known as the Ifugao tribesmen. These rice terraces are more than 2,000 years old and were surprisingly built with the ancient hand tools.

I decided to take up a five day tour of these Philippine rice terraces. On the first day, in the early morning, I and my friends left from the Angeles City and drove along the mountain landscapes as well as the rice fields of Tarlac, Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya, and Nueva Ecija. It was only in the late afternoon when we reached Banaue and spotted the vantage point for marveling at such ancient rice terraces of Banaue. Did you know that these rice terraces are entitled as the ‘Eight Wonder of the World’ as well as ‘Stairway to Heaven’? It just goes without saying that these Banaue rice terraces are world heritage sites. Today, they are well known for organic farming. Just grab the chance to step on them or purchase some hand made souvenirs presented by the tribes living in the mountains.

These Philippine rice terraces are worth a visit from winter to early spring. Presently, the terraces are facing erosion due to a fall in maintenance. However, this is not the main reason. The main fact contributing to the erosion is the abandoning of some young tribes in search of less difficult jobs elsewhere.

Besides the rice terraces of Banaue, there are many other Ifugao rice terraces.  On day 2, we planned to visit some of the most famous Ifugao rice terraces. First was the turn of the Hapao rice terraces along with the close by hot water spring. In the olden days, the Ifugao were actually the scary headhunters who were responsible for carving the Ifugao rice terraces only with some tools. Now, this is really commendable!

On Day 3, we visited the Batad rice terraces that are among the most wonderful ones. Hiking is simply adventurous here and for those are experts, continue to the location of the waterfalls. If you plan to come here, do carry a few boxes of matches as the locals will directly ask for matches, a gift recognized with much value. It is only after this that the locals will welcome you warmly so that you can explore the life here.

On Day 4 after breakfast, we drove for 3 hours to reach a small Bontoc museum that is quite appealing. Set by a Belgian, the museum houses the daily as well as the cultural tools of the Toradja- en Dajak-tribes that are actually from Indonesia. Next, we left for Sagada, a soaring town perched at 1480 m. This is where we watched weaving by hand and also bought some souvenirs from a shop. After, we met a local guide who was quite experienced to bring us comfortably to the caves of Sagada where a myriad of macabre coffins silently reside. If you come here, check out for the mysterious hanging coffins that adorn the walls of the mountain. In addition, we also took a tour of the echo valley where the Bokong waterfalls or the underground river is worth a visit after an amble of 20 minutes. We spent the night at the bizar, Mapiyaaw Sagada Pension that is surrounded with wonderful gardens and rock formations. Be in the balcony at the sunset to enjoy the appealing landscape views.

On day 5, we left Sagada to reach Baguio. This drive on the road to Baquio above the highway of Van Halsema Mountain itself is a challenging journey. If fortune is with you, you will be able to drive at an average 25 kilometer speed per hour on this route that is of 130 kilometer. After some 5 hours of driving, you will come across the spectacular terrain of the Cordillera Mountains, a thrilling view that will surely not easily vanish.

I had taken up the economy class trip that demanded for $80 per person. This amount included excursion fees, admission fees, transfer to hotels, AC room fees, and breakfast.

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