Cave Connection, Sagada: A Test of Will and Endurance

by - 11:26 AM

A trip to Sagada will never be complete without trying out the Cave Connection adventure. This extreme adventure starts at the entrance of Lumiang Cave and exits at Sumaguing Cave which most people call the “big cave”. Be prepared to crawl, climb, rappel, squeeze, and swim in narrow and steep passages with no safety gear and equipment at all! Sounds crazy, right?  

Walking our way towards the entrance of Lumiang Cave. That's our dependable and strong guide with his backpack.

At first glance I thought these were beautifully crafted stones on the wall at the entrance of Lumiang Cave but when I took a closer look, these were actually coffins neatly stacked over each other. The guide said that they bury the dead in a fetal position in a coffin made of wood and they stack them together by the entrance of the cave so that it's near the light.

The waiting game. Cave connection could go for as fast as 3 hours for the able-bodied and during the low-peak season but could go for as long as 6-8 hours if there are a lot of huge groups inside. Luckily for us, it took just about 5-6 hours to complete the entire stretch when we went there November of 2014.

Observing the other group as they go down in between huge rocks and rappel their way up to get to the other side with just a rope to hang on to. Not an easy feat at all!

I also realized how hard it is to be a guide in Sagada. They use their brawny strong arms and body to assist tourists all throughout the cave connection adventure. They serve as the human ladder, stepping board, and rope sometimes in especially difficult areas of the cave. Hats off to these strong guides and let's support local tourism by hiring the services of local tour guides like SAGGAS.

Going through narrow passages. At some parts of the adventure, we had to go barefooted because the rocks were slippery.

Hanging on for dear life but still smilin'! :)

Traversing through knee-deep ice-cold pool. It's best to wear clothes that could protect your knees and elbows and at the same time clothes that are quick to dry. Don't forget to bring a dry bag too to protect your valuables.

Stopping by a beautiful limestone formation.

Going down a very steep wall with no protection or safety gear. Listen to the guide at all times and avoid rowdy behavior because one wrong move and it will cost you your dear life or bones if you are lucky. 

One thing I had observed with the guides from Sagada was that they help each other. Our guide for example asked us if we could wait for a few minutes so he could assist the other group as they make their way down. Same thing, the guide from the other group waited for us as we climb our way up on a dangerous wall just so we could have extra light. Bayanihan exemplified in real life.

C'mon folks! Follow my lead! Good thing my shaking knees weren't that obvious. LOL

The princess and the frog turned prince. Corny! :P

Going down again. And yes, that's how dark the cave is inside.

This time we were already in Sumaguing Cave or the Big Cave as some would call it. It may look difficult but the walls were not that slippery anymore. 

The queen's umm.. you know. I'll leave that to your imagination. Too bad I wasn't able to take a picture of the king's you-know-what.

The turtle rock formation. 
Seen in the background are the other groups who decided not to go on a cave connection adventure. If you feel that you are not up to an exhausting 5-hour or so spelunking, you may just opt to explore the Sumaguing Cave only. I met a grandma with her 7 year old grandchild going down the Sumaguing Cave. What a cool family bonding activity!

The grand curtain.
 I wonder how this was formed by the hands of Mother Nature. Isn't it amazing?

As you go deeper in Sumaguing Cave, you'd be amazed of more rock formations crafted through thousands of years.

One final pose before the final curtain call. 

At this point, the guide asked us if we wanted to exit Sumaguing Cave by retracing our steps on the not so slippery wall against the throng of people going in or if we wanted to exit the cave with a bang by going deeper inside Sumaguing Cave through a tunnel with chest deep waters and out on the other side. 

I wasn't too sure if my stamina could still keep up with 30 minutes more of buwis-buhay stunts but I wanted to get the most out of the experience and I don't want to deal with what-ifs and what-could-have-been thoughts when we get home so I said yes and oh, boy! No regrets at all! :)

Tiny EulaPanda fitting into a tiny hole. No sweat at all! haha

Be careful - sharp pointed rocks on the low ceiling overhead. Just wow! 

Still trying to smile even if he was already struggling and staggering on the last couple of hours in the cave. Better keep up with EulaPanda! Just kidding. :)

Good thing it wasn't raining that hard for the past couple of days when we went there or else the water would have been chest-deep or even higher than I am 
(I know I'm short, guys LOL). 

Wall climbing with just a rope. The struggle is real. 

And another wall climbing! 
Look at my exhausted yet still smiling face. I must have had a surge of adrenaline the whole time to be able to do such an extremely exhausting physical activity for 5 hours with no preparation at all. It was indeed a test of willpower and endurance. 

And as they say, at the end of the tunnel there is light.

I was so happy seeing the light above that my dwindling energy was replenished anew as I climb my way out of the darkness. If there's one thing I learned from the Cave Connection adventure - it's the power of the human mind and spirit. You can do it no matter how difficult it may seem. Just believe in yourself. :) 

We started the activity at around 9 in the morning and finished it at around 2pm. For rates and other tours available in Sagada, visit the SAGGAS website by clicking on the link. 

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  1. Nice article, EulaPanda! Looking at the trail that you made, it must be a very adventurous and fulfilling trip.

    Haven't gone to Sagada, but will make sure to do this if I'll have a chance. It would be very challenging though for a claustrophobic.

    1. Thank you, Jhoennipur!

      Sagada is a beautiful backpacker town with no fuss and frills. You get to enjoy how it feels like living in the Cordilleras (which involves a lot of walking and adventures like this plus the lovely cool weather all year round). Sumaguing Cave is such a huge chamber so I think you wouldn't be that scared once inside.

      Visit Sagada, madam! It's really worth it :)