Whenever I reminisce my Ifugao province memories, there is one experience that instantly pops out from my consciousness, it is my Batad Rice Terraces adventure. It was November 2014 when me and my longtime travel buddy, Ella, visited this beautiful place. I have read a lot of blogs and stories about their adventures and experiences with this epic rice terraces but being there in the flesh would really nail the feel. It is a shame too that I did not physically prep myself knowing that I am visiting a mountainous place.
The Batad Rice Terraces is the tallest of the listed UNESCO Heritage site in Ifugao province and it resembles a mammoth amphitheater – fit for the ancient gods or anitos.
At the first sight of it, its epic size would amaze you and would really make you think, how on earth did the Ifugao ancestors do these with their hands?
We started our Ifugao experience here. As we arrived in the province, we proceeded to the Tourism office and we joined a group going there. There is no time to relax as the team is about to leave in a few minutes and the tourism officer offered the washrooms at the back of the office to change. We can also safely leave our heavy backpacks there. Shortly, we found ourselves sitting with a team of more than ten, multinationals, two American couples, a Japanese, a jolly Pinay with her foreigner boyfriend and the rest are Pinoy locals.
AT THE JUMP OFF POINT
It is approximately an hour drive from Banaue going to the jump off point passing through scenic undulating and steep mountain roads. The drive ended on the part where the road construction starts and this where my real Batad experience starts.
It is approximately less than an hour based on many accounts and blogs to reach Batad from the jump off point. For me it seemed endless, walking through narrow trail paths and few steep portions but the view is breathtaking! Rice terraces carved over steep mountain slopes greeted me as I traversed the trail.
I stopped the complaining when a local man overtook us on the path while balancing a huge television set on his right shoulder. I was stunned. He could have lost his balance along the way and could have fallen into the deep ravine next to it.
Few minutes has passed and we are the welcome signage in Batad! Sigh! We are near!
THE COLOSSAL AMPHITHEATRE
I was panting really hard, catching my breath as we arrived in Batad. What a sight to behold! The amphitheatre for the gods right in front of me.
Included in the itinerary is visiting the Tappiyah Falls. Before we traverse the terraces, we set our orders for lunch to avoid long waiting as the guide expects us to be really hungry after the trek. After brief rests, I found myself again on a steep descending stairs leading to the midst of the terraces. I started to catch my breath again. I never expected the trail to be this arduous, nevertheless, the view is captivating.
Another view of the terraces. Locals are starting to plant rice seedlings at our time of visit
It was the most memorable experience for me here in Ifugao province finding myself in the midst of Batad terraces. Unfortunately, the locals are starting to plant so most of the terraces are in a muddy state. I wish to go back on months that these terraces are green or yellow.
We seemed to crisscross the terraces as the path goes up and down. Some the locals are friendly and would greet as you walk past them. There are few souvenir stores where you can buy keychains and local products. They sell drinks and refreshment but with a bit hefty price. Good thing we brought enough water to hydrate us through the trek.
We reached the resting area before descending to a steep path going to the falls. We exchanged experiences and stories while sitting. Few minutes I stood up and marvelled the amazing view. It was awesome and breathtaking, a “pinch me” moment. I can’t believe I made this far. For me, the trek is really arduous since my lifestyle runs between home and office. Then our guide instructed us that is time to descend.
I initially thought that this would be easier because we are going downward, not against
gravity. I was wrong. I need to exert a little effort to control myself from falling straight
as we descend. It seemed an endless descent and felt a little dizzy because of the steep
As we walked past more of the descending trail, we heard the sound of gushing water, a sign that we are near to the falls. I was almost out of breath and leg cramps came more
often. Exhaustion starts to creep through my whole body. At last! The view deck is a few
strides away. I hurriedly carried myself in that hut and the perfect full view of the
Tappiyah Falls is there. Another sight to behold in Batad!
Thunderous as the cascade falls down but graceful. The team started to trek to the catch basin but I chose just to stay at the view deck. I was really exhausted. I just marvelled the falls from afar. When Ella has garnered enough energy, she joined the team there. Half of them swam in the cold waters. Brrrr. I can see and hear them enjoying.
I took exactly three photos of the Tappiyah Falls and briefly afterwards, I closed my eyes and let my ears connect with mother nature surrounding me.The sound of gushing water, the cool mountain air, the bristling leaves and occasional chirps from birds, it quenches my thirst of mother nature. Another group of tourists arrives and sat with me. A couple exchange stories with me. They told that they drove Halsema Highway at night! They are from Manila and drove to Baguio, then to Bontoc until they arrived in Banaue.
Few minutes, our guide signalled that we have to return as it is already noontime. Whew! I did not notice the time. With one deep breath and stood up. I mentally prepared myself that I am to ascent that steep path again. The guide let me and Ella go early ahead because we are the slowest of the team. I hurried so I can reach the resting area to catch more rest, but man! Our teammates are really fast. They were able to catch up. Legs cramps are ruining my momentum and I have to stop momentarily to stretch my muscles. At last, I reached the resting area. I survived that very steep trail! But I have to prepare myself again to traverse the terraces back to where we ordered our lunch.
The afternoon sun appeared briefly and felt its kiss. While traversing, I took the
opportunity to take some shots of the terraces. The trail goes up and down, through narrow crude stone stairways and dried mud path. I think it was past two in the afternoon when we have our lunch. I enjoyed the lunch and the rest as well. The view is awesome! Panoramic and commanding view of the terraces.
After enough rest, we need to trek again back to the jump off point. Oh my! Another hour of walking. I motivated myself to do this. My body wished to just spend the night there in
Batad. But all of my stuff is in Banaue. I need to do this. Every step, I controlled my
breathing to gulp more oxygen. Before leaving Batad town proper, I had massive leg cramps. Fortunately, I was few steps to a store and gulped a liter of sports drink and bought another one for the trail. I rested a while and luckily our guide found me. I got up started to walk again. Thank God the cramps stopped. I was far behind already from the team. I enjoyed the scenery to keep my thoughts away from the cramps. Almost out of breath, I charged myself to the jeepney. I SURVIVED BATAD!! I wish to join the team in top loading but I do not have left energy to carry myself up. I just enjoyed the trip back inside the jeepney and fell asleep.
Upon arrival in Banaue, we thanked our guide for caring us during the trek. It was a great
and memorable experience. We approached the tourism officer and asked what would be the best activity for the next day. He cheerfully discussed the Hapao Rice Terraces, Hiwang Inn and Banaue Rice Terraces. It is enough to fill the day. We thanked him and carried our heavy backpacks and walked to our accommodation, our second home, Banaue Homestay. It is just a few minutes walk from the tourism office.
Batad Rice Terraces is an awesome experience. Seeing those massive structures, and knowing that they were made by hand for two thousand years ago, it is a humbling, fulfilling and exhilarating experience. Indeed, the activity is physically demanding. Will I go back, when the terraces are green or gold, YES!!
- If you have a sedentary lifestyle, prepare yourself by jogging, or walking at least 30 minutes a day.
- Wear light clothing during the trek.
- If you are coming from Banaue, try to top load if you are riding a jeep. The view is stunning and breathtaking.
- If you are coming with a guide, listen well to the stories behind this massive architectural masterpiece.
- Bring enough water, 1L would suffice. There are stores in Batad but with hefty prices tags.
- Bring hard candies for instant glucose supply.
- Munch on banana chips for that potassium replacement.
- Do not litter, please.
- Buy souvenir from locals
- Once in the paddies, take pictures as you trek. The scenery changes dramatically and the terraces are picturesque to any angle or perspective. You hiked hard, so document hard. 🙂
Read more about, Hapao Rice Terraces
Read more about, Banaue Rice Terraces