30 Hours in Sagada: A Chill and Laid Back DIY Itinerary (Without Cave Tour) Part 3

Aside from the Hanging Coffins tour, we really wanted to experience something unique in Sagada – a beautiful sunrise at the peak of Marlboro Hills and the Blue Soil Hills.

So on our second day, we chose to avail the Marlboro Hills Blue Soil Sagada Traverse Trek. This tour costs Php 3700 which includes jeep rental (Php 1300) and tour guide fee at Php 600 per person.  Just like our Eco Valley/Hanging Coffins and Lake Danum tour, we booked this tour at the lodge ( just inform the owner)  with the same tour guide assigned to us.
Good to know: Tour fees are paid directly to the tour guide and not to the owner of the lodge.

We were up very early because call time is at 3:30 am. This time instead of a van, we rode a jeepney going to the drop off point. Among all the guests in the lodge, we were the only ones who availed this tour so we had the vehicle all by ourselves.

It took us about 30 minutes to reach the drop off point. The ride was smooth and fast because there was no traffic. From the drop off point, we started our hike in darkness. It was a very cold early morning hike. We even thought it was raining because of the droplets/dews from the pine leaves above us.

Tip #11: You can also bring your own flashlight or you can use your phone’s flashlight.

The hike in darkness was fun and exciting. The trail was easy but some areas were muddy and slippery. Manong tour guide had his flashlight and made sure that we avoid stepping on dangerous areas in the trail. As we progress, we encountered many other groups with the same destination as ours.

We reached the peak after 1.5 hours of walking. Actually, you can finish the hike for 1 hour depending on your pace, but since we had to stop several times to rest and catch our breaths, it  took us a little longer. There were a lot of tourists that morning waiting for the sunrise. At the Marlboro Hills peak, you can find food stalls selling coffee, arroz caldo, cup noodles, chaporado etc. Their champorado is highly recommended which are sold at Php 60 per cup.

To avoid the crowd at Kiltepan Peak, other tourists chose Marlboro Country as a sunrise and sea of clouds viewing spot. Marlboro Country or locally known as Kamanbaneng Peak is a great option for sunrise viewing and landscape viewing because of its location. They said that at the peak of the rolling hills, you can witness a 360° view of mountains and hills.

Manong tour guide led us to the second hill, which he said is a better sunrise spot than the first hill and definitely with lesser crowd. During that time, it was very cold, windy and foggy. I remember barely able to move because of the cold and breeze. As we waited for the sunrise, we secretly wish for the much anticipated sea of clouds. However, as much as we wanted, the fog was too much so we failed to see the cluster of clouds and a beautiful sunrise.

Having accepted that its not our lucky day, we decided to start our trek  going to the Blue Soil Hills.

Along the way, we saw some beautiful wild flowers and wild strawberries.

Marlboro Hills Blue Soil Sagada

We passed by this place with landslip. Near this area, we saw the Echo dale beautiful rock formations. However, the fog was too thick and we can’t see anything from the other side.

At some point, the fog in the area cleared and we witnessed a picturesque view beyond the rock formations. The view of mountain ranges and rock formations were breathtaking!

Marlboro Hills Blue Soil Sagada

We took this opportunity to take photos of the the land formations and mountain ranges. Then we continued our hike past the pines trees.

As you can see in the photos below, the trail is manageable even for kids.

The trek going to the Blue Soil hills will let you walk through a forest. Then we reached the Kaipitan grounds and limestone cliffs.

Marlboro Hills Blue Soil Sagada

After a few minutes, we saw Sagada’s unique tourist attraction – the Blue Soil Hills.

But before reaching the Blue Soil Hills, we saw a type of plant that we’ve never seen before – pitcher plants. These type of plants are carnivorous and usually thrive in rain forests.

Blue Soil Hills or Kaman-utek Hills is one of the many reasons why we chose to visit Sagada. It’s a unique attraction that you can find only in Sagada.

Marlboro Hills Blue Soil Sagada

The bluish-green color  is due to the high copper sulfate content of the soil. The colors are deeper when the soil is moistened or after raining.

Marlboro Hills Blue Soil Sagada

Marlboro Hills Blue Soil Sagada
Disclaimer: We did not take this piece home. We just took pictures of it.

After our time and another mini photo shoot at the Blue Soil Hills, we trekked for another one hour to reach the drop off point where our ride going back was waiting for us.

Tip #12: Get a guide,  eat a heavy breakfast, bring water and wear appropriate clothing when you plan to do the Marlboro Hills Blue Soil Sagada Traverse Trek.

To sum up, the Marlboro Hills – Blue Soil Traverse Trek took us 5 hours (4am – 9am) to complete including the numerous stops and some photo shoots along the way. It was very tiring especially for first time hikers (including myself), but definitely worth the hike. This type of tour is the perfect hike to see and experience something unique Sagada. Travelling titas approved!

After checking out from the lodge we had our first decent meal of the day at Salt & Pepper Diner, another must try foodie place in Sagada.

We ordered the following:

Dinakiw – pan grilled pork with onions  (Php 185)
Mushroom Inutom (Php 210)
Rosemary Inutom (Php 185)
Sinarabasab – vinegar marinated pork with ginger and onions (Php 185)

We were the first customers of the day so we did not encounter long waiting time for our food. We liked what we ordered from Salt & Pepper except for the Sinarabasab which my friend (who ordered this dish) commented that the vinegar marinate is too overpowering. The generous serving and delicious meals makes this restaurant the perfect place to eat  after a very tiring hike.

Opening hours: 8AM – 9PM
Location : along the main road (just beside the office of SAGGAS)
Budget : Php 200-250 per person (including drinks)
Pros: generous serving, delicious food
Cons: slightly expensive

After our lunch, we did some quick last minute shopping. At past 1pm, we went back to the lodge to get our things. Since the lodge is about 700 meters to the town proper and our body was aching from the hike, we arranged a vehicle to drive us to the bus terminal courtesy of Manong tour guide for Php 200.

Then it was time to leave Sagada and get back to reality.

For 30 hours, we had an epic travel in Sagada. We manage to experience the best travel adventure without the famous spelunking activities in our itinerary. Even without witnessing the sunset, sunrise, or sea of clouds, we still enjoyed our time in Sagada. We had fun climbing mountains, walking through forests, seeing amazing rock formations and unique tourist attractions. We also enjoyed souvenir shopping and pigging out on several restaurants.

Without a doubt, Sagada is a wonderful destination. This place is not only for broken hearts and lost souls because we were neither broken nor lost. Sagada is also for the “traveling titas”  and restless zombies who wants a quick emotional rest and days off from their comfort zone and the busy adulting life in the city.

If you want a different travel adventure, choose Sagada as your next destination. Any trip in Sagada will be worth it. 🙂

This post concludes our Sagada epic adventure. You can read the first two parts here and here.