Banaue Rice Terraces Have been said to be like the 8th wonder of the world. located on the island of Luzon, in the Philippines where it is the heart of rice-terrace country and one of the great icons of the Philippines.
This natural wonder, often referred to as the “Stairway to Heaven,” attracts travelers with its awe-inspiring landscapes and cultural significance. It also stands as a testament to centuries-old craftsmanship, these stunning creations embody the essence of their rich traditions, showcasing a meld of cultural marvel and ecological masterpiece.
A Glimpse into History: The Origins of Banaue Rice Terraces
A feat of ancient engineering
The Ifugao are almost as famous for carving wood as they are for carving earth into green, fuzzy, rice-bearing steps. They were carved from the hillside by the tribe’s people of Ifugao about 2,000-3,000 years ago. The Banaue Rice Terraces are the priceless contribution of ancient engineering, displaying an intricate harmony between man and nature. The tribes people did this with their bare hands and crude implements, using primitive tools without using machinery to level the steps. Sculpting these terraces into the mountainside, created an engineering marvel that continues to thrive today. They plant their rice with an ingenious irrigation system over 2000 years ago, which is what makes this wonder so attractive. Banaue Rice Terraces are not merely a stunning landscape; is an outstanding example of the rich history and cultural heritage of the Ifugao people. The intricate irrigation system, ingeniously designed by ancient Ifugao engineers, has allowed passing it from generation to generation to cultivate rice in this challenging mountainous terrain.
Aside from the fact that the rice terraces are still used today, an achievement in engineering terms that ranks alongside the building of the pyramids. This is considered to be one of the greatest engineering feats of mankind, if laid out end to end, then they would reach 10 times as long as the Great Wall of China, the terraces would stretch 20,000km (that’s halfway around the world) .
Wonders of the Banaue Rice Terraces
The Banaue Rice Terraces were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in (1995) and is closely tied to the future of the tribes’ people themselves. The Banaue Rice Terraces (as well as the other regional ones) are now facing erosion because of a decline in upkeep. This is the reason why Banaue is also part of UN’s World Heritage Danger’s List. However, despite their immense cultural and natural importance, the Banaue Rice Terraces face various challenges, including environmental degradation, infrastructure development, and the impact of tourism. It is crucial for both visitors and authorities to recognize the importance of practicing responsible tourism to ensure the preservation of this extraordinary cultural and natural wonder. Beside all that, it was reported that the Ifugaos’ new generation is migrating to nearby cities in search of better opportunities.
Trekking in Banaue Rice Terraces on foot is more than just sight-seeing and feeling one step closer to heaven but it is to intimate encounter with this natural wonder.
Photographers flock to capture the terraces’ beauty, especially during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset when the sunlight bathes the landscape in warm hues turning those display moments into memories.
Stairway to the Sky
The rice terraces are steppingstones stretching towards the sky, rising like giant steps towards the heavens, the terraces create a mesmerizing visual spectacle. Where some of them reach almost 5,000 feet in altitude and cover about 4,000 square miles of land. Each level is carefully designed to follow the contours of the mountains, creating a giant stairway that ascends into the clouds. There are many more rice terraces in Asia (in Bali), but these in the Philippine Cordilleras are outstanding because of their altitude (up to 1500 meters) and steep slopes (maximum of 70 degrees). This unique design not only maximizes the use of arable land but also adds to the aesthetic appeal of the landscape.
The Engineering Marvel
Ingenious Irrigation System
The terraces are a marvel of engineering, with an intricate irrigation system and a complex system of dams, sluices, channels, and bamboo pipes that channels water from the mountaintop forests down to each terrace level to keep whole groups of terraces adequately flooded. This sustainable water management system not only sustains the rice fields but also contributes to the overall ecological balance of the region.
Experiencing the Beauty
A trip to the Banaue Rice Terraces is well worth the time when visiting the Philippines as it is not just a sightseeing adventure; it’s an immersive cultural experience. Travelers have the opportunity to engage with local communities and traditions, learn about traditional farming methods and practices, and witness age-old rituals that have been passed down through generations.
The terraces offer breathtaking panoramas to movie-like sunsets that captivate the senses. Whether exploring on foot or from, several designated viewpoints where you can pull over and take in the magnificent views that extend as far as the eye can see. The changing seasons, from lush greenery to golden harvest, add to the beautiful images and large natural wonder.
A Journey of Discovery
Aside from Banaue rice terraces, nearby are 4 others similar Ifugao terraces:
BATAD rice terraces. Also located in Banaue, it is home to the spectacular tiered, amphitheater-shaped terraces. MAYOYAO rice terraces is similarly situated in Banaue. The organic Ifugao rice called Tinawon, in red and white variety, is harvested here in abundance. HAPAO rice terraces. Its stone-walled rice terraces date back to 650 AD and is in Hungduan, where Napulawan terraces can also to be found. KIANGAN rice terraces. It is home to two famous rice terraces sites namely: Nagacadan and Julungan, known for their size and visual impact.
It is interesting to know that there is no land ownership around the terraces as such, but only families have the right to till, plant, harvest and maintain their family plots. Once the family ceases to do this, ‘ownership’ of the land passes to another, be it a neighboring farmer or relative of the original ‘owners.
Planning Your Visit
For those planning a visit to the Banaue Rice Terraces, it’s essential to consider the best times depending on what you’d like to see. The rice terraces may be visited at different times of year to experience the different phases of cultivation.
The best time to go is between February and May end, when it is least likely that the views will be obscured by low level clouds. The rice fields are slightly green since this is the planting season, October, and November the time when it’s fully green and lush and the best time to have the Banaue rice terraces harvest time. The planting season, growing season, and harvest season each offer a unique perspective on the agricultural cycle.
Exploring Ifugao’s Culinary Delights
No visit to the Banaue Rice Terraces is complete without immersing yourself in the flavors of the region. The area is known for its rich agricultural practices, particularly rice cultivation, and other traditional dishes that highlight this staple crop, you might want to try such as Tinawon Rice, Pinikpikan, Hinalo, Pancit Habhab, Etong, Inasin and Banaue Coffee
Check availability, maps, photos and reviews before traveling, and book at the guaranteed lowest price.