Thursday, February 6, 2014

Spelunking Tuba

Sagada of Mt. Province has been a famous destination for spelunking activities because of its abundant attractions like caves, falls, terraces, etc.

But Benguet has its own share of diverse destinations with unique features. One is Ansagan, Tuba which is about two to three hours away from Baguio on a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. There are two routes to Ansagan, one is via Philex mines passing through a rugged mountain terrain and open pit mine. The road gives you a beautiful view of the Mountainous Tuba, Itogon and the lowland Pangasinan and La Union.

Another route is via Binalonan, Pangasinan. It's a longer ride that takes an hour drive down Kennon road to Binalonan. Then another 2 hours drive back to the Mountains traversing rivers and uphill rugged country road. If my count was right, you will be crossing the same river 16 times.

The second route showcases life in the river with no bridges that a few days' rain will increase the water level making it impassable for vehicles. You will also chance upon people panning gold along the river banks or a group of carabaos (water buffalos) wallowing in the cold water.

The journey itself to the Barangay is part of the adventure showcasing the lives of the people along the way.

Sitio Piminggan is where the foot trail starts. The length of your spelunking adventure depends on your speed and your lust for taking photos. For my group, it took us about 5 hours to reach all the five caves and back to Piminggan. That is fast travel on my part. A whole day should be allotted for this trek for you to be able to enjoy the experience. Along the way, the trails offer unique traits like rock formations, river views, unique tree formations, and the view of the lowland plains.

Like Sagada, it's possible to find marine fossils among the rock formations indicating this place used to be underwater.

The five caves offer different traits although they're just small compared to that of Sumaguing cave in Sagada. Some of them, however, offer live stalactites. If they are guarded properly, their growth will still continue. The formation of stalactites and stalagmites inside the caves are good subjects for photography.

As you go from cave to cave, you will pass through rock formations and thick woodlands that you may have to cut your way through some thick vines. It will be a real adventure.

Going to Ansagan, don't expect the caves to be the biggest attractions. They are just part of the adventure and the trek and the views going from cave to cave are more important part of the journey.

Our tour guide warned us not to be "trigger happy" along the way coz some trekkers who went ahead of us have run out of batteries along the way that they have no more juices left when they reached the last cave. But I did not regret shooting a lot along the way and I should have shot more if not because of that warning. The rock formations alone are worth photographing.

NOTE: Tour to this site is closed by the local government.

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