I was worried about one thing and only one thing as I stood by the mouth of Lumiang Cave, about to start our Cave Connection Spelunking Tour with friends — the seam of my shorts. There’s something that I didn’t mention when I blogged about my Sumaguing Cave adventure the year before — that the seam of my shorts, the crotch part, ripped apart in the middle of the activity. Good thing no one noticed. (Or maybe no one brought it up even though they noticed.)

I thought I learned my lesson. But for Cave Connection, I totally forgot to come in my sturdiest, most durable shorts. The pair I was wearing was something I got for only P60, and I was a little bit totally worried that it would fail me just when I stretch my legs to hop from one wall to another, revealing something that would make the trip Rated R-18. But it was too late to do anything that time. I figured I would just traverse what needed to be traversed in the most graceful manner that I could, if that was ever possible, and checking every now and then if the crucial seam in question was still intact.

So there, despite knowing how tough and strenuous this tour would be and at the risk of sounding sleazy, I was worried about my groin more than anything. But that worry immediately faded away as the challenges we faced quickly erased all the silly and shallow nonsense I had in mind.

My friends enjoying their first Cave Connection adventure!

The Cave Connection Experience: From Lumiang Cave to Sumaguing Cave

Before this trip, I had been to Sagada twice and on both occasions, I chose to do the Sumaguing Cave Spelunking Tour. On my third visit, the group agreed it was about time to up the ante and try the more challenging of the two popular spelunking options in Sagada — Cave Connection, so-called for it connects two of the dozens of caves that run underneath this breathtaking destination.

The Cave Connection Tour starts at Lumiang Cave, a burial site where hundreds of coffins are stacked as part of the local tradition. At the mouth of Lumiang, we were gathered around our tour guides from SaGGAs (Sagada Genuine Guides Association), who briefed us on what to expect inside and how to make our tour easy, enjoyable, and above all, safe. Around us were some broken coffins and human remains, which were all cluttered by an earthquake several years ago, according to the guides.

One of our guides at the Lumiang Cave

After lighting the lamps, our tour guides asked us if we wanted to hand over our cameras to them so they could take pictures of us as we crawled, climbed, rappelled and squeezed our way through the crevices and gaps between the rocks. Unfortunately, I chose to not bring a camera for this trip for I was worried I would either break it or wet it or both. (Thus, I’m using pics of a friend who was with me for this blog post! Yay!)

The first few minutes were easy. But it was the only easy time in the whole spelunking tour. We found ourselves facing a big rock with a tiny, tiny hole, and we were told we would need to go through it. The first thought that popped in my head was, “How is my beer belly gonna make it past that hole?” But that was not the right question to ask, I realized when stuck my head out and took a peek. Behind the opening was a steep almost-vertical cliff. Our guides were confident that (1) I would fit, and (2) I could make my way down, so I just said to myself, What the heck. Just do it. Naks, Nike tagline.

That’s my friend Jenny! All smiles!
That’s Jay, who owns all the pics I posted on this entry.

That was just the first of the many physical challenges that made somewhat regret that I did not frequent the gym or took my PE classes seriously. There were a number of descents and ascents, climbing and rappelling, crawling and scooting, gripping on our guide’s shoulder and stepping on his knee, cursing and praying, and more! There was even a part where we had to brave an eight-meter pool filled with cold, cold, COLD water! But it was all fun. After all, we were taken good care of by our inspiring tour guides!

Cold!

We spent a long time resting at a spot that they call “Dance Hall” because of its wide flat feature. When we decided to move on, we found ourselves in a familiar place — Sumaguing Cave! I recognized the rock formations instantly. Since I was already pretty spent, I opted to just cut my trip and head back to the bright world above instead of exploring Sumaguing Cave all over again. Others in our group completed the tour.


Some Useful Tips

Planning to take the Cave Connection Spelunking Tour, too? Let me share with you some tips that you might want to consider. These tips are the same with the ones I posted for Sumaguing Cave. I just added a couple more notes.

  1. Wear a sturdy pair of sandals with a good grip. While shoes make perfect sense in many trekking tours, a pair of sandals with straps around the ankles and feet will work best (I think). Although many visitors who wear flip-flops complete the tour scratch-free, I do not recommend this to everyone because it tends to slide everywhere especially on wet areas of the cave. There are slippery parts so make sure your footwear has good grip.
  2. Bring a flashlight. Get the type that you can strap around your head. Your guide will bring a powerful lamp (sounds magical, huh?) but it pays to have a light source that you can control so you can see more and better.
  3. Wear light clothes. You WILL get wet and dirty. There are pools (and they are really cold) inside and you will have to dip in them in the course of the tour. There are shower rooms at the store near the mouth of Sumaguing Cave. Should you wish to take a shower, you may use them for a minimal fee.
  4. Bring a waterproof, shockproof camera. You can still use an ordinary camera and let one of the guides hold it for you, though. They really have this Spiderman-like balance-thing going on about them that they seem to not slide or fall or whatever. But to be on the safe side, just bring a water-proof, shock-proof camera.
  5. Implement a buddy system especially if you’re a big group. The guides always check if the group is complete. You can make it easier for them if you do a buddy system.
  6. Listen to your tour guide. They go in, around, and out of this cave more often than you can imagine. They know what they’re talking about. Listen to them. It’s for your own safety and pleasure.
And of course:
7. Wear a pair of durable shorts. Your flexibility will be tested here and the last thing you want is to unintentionally show your *woohoo* while trying to go down and everyone is looking up.

While it was one of the most physically challenging activities I had tried while traveling, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I came out of that cave totally spent, exhausted, and unbelievably hungry. However, there was a great deal of satisfaction, fulfillment, and yes, pride after finishing it. Will I do it again? Probably not. But who knows?

And the big question, what happened to my shorts? Perfect. Just like the whole experience.


Cave Connection Tour Rates

Here are the rates as of April 2019.

Guide Fee:
P1000 (good for 1-2 pax).
P500 per additional person

Two-way transportation (optional):
P400


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Photos by Jay Leano

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Yoshke Dimen

Storyteller at Yoshke.com
Yoshke is a part-time digital marketing consultant, part-time travel blogger, and full-time dreamer. He has three passions in life: social media, travel, and --- wait for it --- world peace. Yoshke has won 3 PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS and received 9 nominations. Learn more about his personal journeys at Yoshke.com.
Yoshke Dimen

Comments

  1. Yaj Odaval says:

    I was so scared doing the spider crawl at the big mushroom stalagmite. I want my wife to experience the adventure but I was scared also to let her do it. I hope there was a harness for that area.

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