Earth Art, Millennia Old
Banaue’s rice terraces were carved out of the Cordillera Central mountain range more than 2,000 years ago and are still maintained as a way of irrigating the area’s steep slopes, which rise to more than 5,000 feet above sea level.
Access is difficult, since the roads are roughly paved, but the effort rewards you with gorgeous views of one of the lesser-known wonders of the ancient world, covering more than 4,000 square miles. Bring a sweater, plenty of film, and good hiking boots, as Banaue is the perfect base from which to visit the villages of the Ifugao, the region’s tribal people.
The quality of light, the mountain air, and the drama of the ancient earthworks may make you leave your heart in the highlands. The modest Banaue Hotel is the nicest operation in the area, offering balconied rooms and commanding views of the rice terraces. Staff can organize trips by car or by foot into the surrounding country.