7 days
Duration
2/5
Physicality
Cordillera, Northern Luzon
Location
2+
Age
Year-round
Dates

On this road trip, you get whisked up to hill station Baguio in a comfortable van taking the expressway from Manila past the deposits of lahar–a legacy of the 1991 eruption of Mt Pinatubo–the twentieth century’s biggest explosion when 13 cubic kilometres of the earth’s crust was spewed into the air to settle on a dramatically altered topography which you pass. In Baguio, you link up with Tribal Adventures founder and former foreign correspondent Greg Hutchinson and together you’ll check out the central market with its vast array of fresh produce before seeing what it can deliver at Hill Station restaurant on your first evening. Accommodation is in a central Baguio hotel, just a short stroll to Burnham Park: There you can try the massage!

In his Land Rover, on Day 2 Greg drives you along the Halsema Highway to the second hill station, Sagada, stopping for morning tea, lunch and a panoramic view or three.  Sagada in Mountain Province is our base for day explorations by 4×4 and on foot: Accommodation is in a private cabin, and the piece de la resistance is a dinner prepared by a Michellin-rated chef Philippe –Aklay is his native name–using a variety of local ingredients.

On Day 3 we stretch our legs hiking out of Sagada to observe the lives of the Kankanay people: We see the Dapay, a physical semi-circle of stones and the centre of local government; we walk through rock-clad rice terraces, past fast-flowing streams, to a waterfall: Pack your swimmers for a refreshing swim!

On Day 4 we drive and hike to Whang-Od, reputedly the oldest traditional tattooist in the world. A petite and pretty woman, this centenarian hails from a tribe in mountainous Kalinga province renowned in times past for taking heads, but now best known for dispensing tattoos to tourists. Yes, you can join the cue for a souvenir, but we’ll also take you deeper, hiking further into the picturesque hills and valleys beyond Buscalan village, through other ancient villages with their characteristic rice huts on stilts, a hot spring, fast rushing streams, magestic waterfalls. En route we have been known to be invited into rice huts. Two decades ago an old man, plied with strong native Robusta coffee, waxed lyrical about his headhunting exploits. Alas, the headhunters are gone but their descendants have entertaining tales to tell. Here and elsewhere in the Cordillera–the mountains famous for the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ancient Banaue Rice Terraces–we’ll get to the soul of a vibrant and unique indigenous culture.

On Day 5, we wander around Sagada, visiting Echo Valley where there are hanging coffins–the traditional form of burial of the native Sagadans. We can, with your concurrence, explore the Big Cave–a limestone cave with sensual formations, hike to Kiltepan with its panoramic view. On the list is also visiting weavers and potters–and yes — you can try your hand at pottery! That evening is the gastronomic feast a la Aklay.

On Day 6, we drive out on a little-used but extremely picturesque road to Bessang Pass, a last stand of the Japanese in World War II. We finish up at the coast, on a beach with a popular surf break. Take a dip or get on a surf board. We’ll arrange it. That night we will have a farewell dinner.

On Day 7, after a morning on the beach or at the hotel pool, your mountain guide will bid you farewell: You’ll take the coastal highway in a comfy van to the Expressway. You should be back in Manila, punctuated by a break for dinner at Clark or Angeles, late that evening.

DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION  Manila or Clark/Manila or Clark
DEPARTURE TIME  5am
HIGHLIGHTS  Baguio, Sagada, Whang-Od, San Juan beach
ACCOMMODATION  Pines Hotel Baguio, St Josephs Resthouse

 

Day 1

Pick up by van at 5 am from Manila hotel, having coffee before passing lahar fields

Arrive Baguio, taking lunch at Cafe By The Ruins and meet guide Greg Hutchinson, seeing some sights before checking in to The Pines Hotel or similar. A wander to the markets & Burnham Park. Hill Station Dinner at 7.30pm

Day 2

After Cafe By The Ruins brunch, we depart Baguio by Land Rover around 11 am, taking the Halsema Highway, stopping for morning tea, lunch and a panoramic view or three.  Arriving at Sagada in Mountain Province mid-afternoon we check in to cabins at St Josephs Resthouse or similar. We take a walk before having dinner at Yoghurt House

Day 3

Hike out of Sagada to observe the lives of the native Kankanay: We see the Dapay, a physical semi-circle of stones and the centre of local government; we walk through rock-clad rice terraces, past fast-flowing streams, to a waterfall where we have a packed lunch: Pack your swimmers for a refreshing swim! Tonight we dine at a restaurant serving the local favourite Pinikpikan

Day 4

After breakfast we drive to the jump-off point for Buscalan village and hike to Whang-Od, reputedly the oldest traditional tattooist in the world. We'll effort to meet Whang-Od, have a picture taken or receive a simple tattoo. Major tattoos need to be booked well ahead. After a tour of the village our local guide takes us on a hike to other communities, returning to our Land Rover around 5pm. Return to Sagada around 6.30 pm. Dinner at 7.30.

Day 5

Walking tour after breakfast of Sagada, visiting Echo Valley where there are hanging coffins--the traditional form of burial of the native Sagadans. We can, with your concurrence, explore the Big Cave--a limestone cave with sensual formations, hike to Kiltepan with its panoramic view. On the list is also visiting weavers and potters--and yes -- you can try your hand at pottery! Lunch is at a vegan restaurant Gaia. That evening is the gastronomic feast a la Aklay.

Day 6

After breakfast, we drive out of Sagada and take the Cervantes route, a little-used but extremely picturesque road that crosses the historic Bessang Pass, a last stand of the Japanese in World War II. We finish up at the coast, on a beach with a popular surf break. Take a dip or get on a surf board. We'll arrange it. That night we will have a farewell dinner.

Day 7

After breakfast and a morning on the beach or at the hotel pool, your mountain guide will bid you farewell: You'll take the coastal highway in a comfy van to the Expressway. You should be back in Manila, punctuated by a break for dinner at Clark or Angeles, late that evening.    

End of expedition

  COST PER PERSON
4+ PERSONS  84,000
3 PERSONS  94,500
2 PERSONS  105,000
INCLUDED  Accommodation, meals, drinks, transport, all fees and costs
NOT INCLUDED  hotel on night of Day 7
Hill Station Baguio
Gourmet dining
Guide Ben pointing to Buscalan village, Kalinga
Whang-Od tattooing Tribal Adventures participant

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