Spelunking in Sagada: The Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave Connection Adventure

The following morning, we were picked up by our tour guides from SAGGAS (Sagada Genuine Guides Association) very early to start our caving. The closest thing to a cave adventure I ever had were my rides to the Horror Train in carnivals, so I was awfully excited! We had been instructed beforehand to wear light clothes and slippers, so we were essentially all in pambahay clothes. We chose the Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave Connection tour, believing that being dancers automatically made us athletic. An easier option was the Sumaguing Cave only, but then again that would’ve been boring.

complimentary breakfast at Masferre Hotel
The starting point of the tour—which, by the way, was a long walk from Masferre Hotel—was the entrance of the Lumiang Burial Cave. Coffins greeted us upon arrival (good thing the contents didn’t). Our guides fixed their gear and explained the rules we had to follow while inside, to keep the whole tour steady and safe. Before going in, the “weakest” in the group was selected so she could go first, dictating the overall pace of the group. Which is an awesome idea, actually, otherwise she gets left behind.

first descent -- rocky trail down the entrance to Lumiang cave
entrance to Lumiang Burial Cave
The tour guide preparing our lamp, the only source of light inside.
Our spelunking adventure started pretty easy, just stepping over rocks which do not vary that much in height and sharpness. A few minutes later though, I was crouching like Spiderman all throughout, afraid that I would slip, fall, and get pierced by a sharp rock or something. On that moment, I regretted not volunteering to be the first in line. Haha!

I thought the entire activity would be Spidey-easy until we went farther and farther into the earth and into the darkness. Then came the first highlight of my spelunking adventure: going down 15 feet (or was it 50?) into the ground via rope descent. And to think I evaded rappelling in college.

The second highlight came shortly after: I had to swing myself from a protruding rock and reach the stone steps down below, steps which are actually underneath the protruding rock. Got a hard time imagining that? I can’t describe it any better. Just go there and experience it yourself.

Never in my whole life did I think I would risk my precious life like this, and this though reverberated in my mind when we reached a part of the cave where we had to slide down slippery limestones. It was very much like Jungle Log Jam, except your boat was your butt. What made this scary, you ask? I was unable to control my sliding speed, so I nearly fell off the abyss which was inches away from the dropping point. Fortunately the tour guides were strong and alert—they caught me before I fell over.

See how easy it was to die here? LOL

More rock-climbing, bat-poop-touching, and sliding followed, until we got to Sumaguing cave, which was all limestone formation and icy pools. While Lumiang was physically challenging, Sumaguing was all aesthetics. In this part of the tour, we had lots of time to take pictures. LOL.

trapped in these giant pincers!

emerged alive after swimming in ice-cold water
we had to slide off this 10-foot high rock formation to get to the next trail
the girls and this Jellyace-like rock formation

a penis ... according to the tour guides

BMG on top of a giant vagina

dipping our feet into the icy pool

doing my favorite dancesport pose inside Sumaguing Cave
The fourth and most memorable highlight: swinging from ropes along a very slippery trail while a gush of water falls down on you, then swimming across the icy water, and finally emerging from a very small hole. I can’t swim, so imagine what it felt like for me.

hoisting my way up the limestones
The entire Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave Connection tour took us almost five hours to complete. Five hours of climbing rocks, going through very small holes, swimming in ice-cold water, going up and down via ropes, sliding down limestones – it was the first time I did spelunking and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! Some parts were scary but the experience was so awesome and memorable and amazing that it was all worth it! By the time we exited the cave, we were all sweaty, muddy, wet, and exhausted but we all felt incredible, you know? Like we had accomplished something great. Like we won in a contest or something. It’s indescribable!

Finally, we saw the light! (It turned out not to be the exit though.)
We made it!!!
I went back to Masferre with the rest of the group, still unable to get over what had just transpired. I was walking under the sun in my smelly, dirty clothes but I felt so wonderful. Would I do this again? DEFINITELY! I’m already planning a trip back.

Photo credit: Jaypee Decena

Tip: Visit the SAGGAS (Sagada Genuine Guides Association) office to avail of the Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave Connection Tour. They also offer Lumiang only and Sumaguing only, depending on your capability and eagerness for adventure. The office is just a short walk from the Sagada municipal hall, which is the first building that you would see upon getting off the bus station. The Cave Connection rate is P400/head if your group consists of 4 members or more, and P800/head otherwise. I spent nothing for this tour, since our dance coach offered it to be his treat. Isn’t that awesome? The perks of being a dancer. *wink*

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