After a gruelling 14 hr drive around precarious winding cliff roads with more landslides than road, we finally reached our accommodation in Banue at 10pm. This Native village was just gorgeous, with, as we found out the next morning, the most amazing views – more than adequate as our trekking base. The kids were super excited as this was the first time they had had their own hut separate from us. Our hut’s large window meant there was not much of a sleep in to be had, but it also gave us our first glimpse of the incredible rice terraces spread beneath us, like a huge grassy amphitheatre nestled in between mountains. The terraces stretched, like a giant staircase, up towards the misty sky, a view that we continued to gaze out on over breakfast
Ancient 2000 year old rice terraces, dotted with villages, hewn out of the mountainsides of Luzon’s northern Cordillera. A deserved World Heritage Site. A breathtaking and fascinating trek along the rims of these terraces, some of which cling for hundreds of feet to the steep hillsides, and through the mountain forests that link the terraced areas.
Our first half of the day’s trek was mainly downhill – installing in us a false sense of seurity, we had forgotten if you come down this far you have to eventually go back up again! It was very humid so our stop at the hot springs was a welcome one.
We made our way between Hapao and Uhaj, hurrying to get to shelter as the black clouds gathered ever bigger and closer. it started to rain just as we reached the rice workers outhouse, bucket down was more appropriate a phrase I think! If there is one place you don’t really want to be around when it rains, I’d say it’s in the rice terraces as everything turns into mud and it becomes very slippery. Hmm the potential for me to end up face down in the mud was high to say the least of our previous trek in Sapa, a couple of years ago was anything to go by!
On our last day, we reached the saddle point, enjoying the view from Batad, after fighting our way over landslide rubble and slippery goat tracks. Land slides are quite common events up here in wet season, we just weren’t aware we would have to be climbing over them! Finally we made our way back to Banaue, via the little Ifugao village of Bangaan. We stopped here to traverse the steep little laneways, eating ice creams and watching people go about their daily lives.