We are die-hard fans of Mountain Province because of the climate, culture and scenery. We make sure that we visit this place at least once a year. This year, we invited a few friends to join and try camping in one of the coldest places in the region.
Day 1 – October 10, 2019 – 6:30AM
We set out to an unfamiliar town somewhere in Ilocos Sur. Inspired by a viral facebook post, we had to insert Bessang Pass to our route. After 5 hours of driving, we stopped by a wet market to buy our food for the night and had lunch at a river side grill restaurant somewhere in La Union, a few kilometers away before we make a right to Besang Pass.
From lunch, we drove another 3 hours to Villa Maria Inn in Cervantes, where we rest and stayed for the next day. The inn doesn’t have a restaurant but they have a kitchen and dining hall that you can use.
Sagada and Banaue
October 11, 2019 – 5:00AM
We woke up early to prepare a light breakfast since we plan on having the heavy breakfast in Sagada.
At around 7:00AM, we left the Inn for our Sagada journey. This is just going to be a day trip since our plan is to stay overnight in Banaue. From Cervantes, it will take you about 2.5 hours on a long and winding road to Sagada. However, add about 30-45 minutes for stops to view the scenery and for photography. Please note that this highway stretch does not have a cellular signal (at least for Globe, not sure for Smart).
By 10:30AM, we arrived at Gaia Cafe for our heavy breakfast. This is also where one of the scenes of Tadhana was taken.
After breakfast, we did the usual tour of the hanging coffins, pottery house, orange picking and we made a detour to see the coffee heritage house to buy Sagada coffee.
Tip: Buy from the market. Price is a bit steep at the Coffee Heritage House
By 3:30pm, we left Sagada and drive down to Banaue. It was one of the hardest and most dangerous driving experience for me because of the thick fog. Visibility is like only 5m. With the sun setting down, we had to drive at 10km/hr at times.
Lake Tabeo Camping
October 12, 2019 – 9:00AM
We visited Banaue’s public market to buy fresh produce for our camp meals.
From here we drove about 5.5 hours via Isabela boundary road. We passed by some offroad and reached the highest point of the Philippine Highway system in Tinoc, Benguet. We stopped by somewhere for lunch and by 4pm, we already reached Lake Tabeo. It was raining heavily when we reached the campsite so we just waited out for the skies to clear up before we set up our tent. The good thing is, the skies cleared up that night and we were greeted by a good weather the following morning. The bad thing is, we left our sleeping bags so it was quite cold inside our tent that night. We brought a heater but consumed 2 tanks of isobutane. The following morning, the owner of the campsite gave us 5 kilos of freshly picked tomato for free.