The Ifugao Rice Terraces, in the foothills of the Philippine Cordilleras northeast of the city of Baguio, are a huge and spectacular expanse of wide scenic valleys carved with agricultural terraces. With some clusters designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites, they are believed to have been crafted between 1,000 and 2,000 years ago by the indigenous Ifugao people by hand. These serpentine terraces stretch valleys, traverse steep rock faces and curve around cliffs, covering over 4,000 miles, separated by stone or mud walls. Originally built to grow taro, the crop of choice quickly turned to rice, with a nifty old irrigation system that still works wonders today.
Due to their location in the mountains, the Ifugao rice terraces were not touched by colonialism and so the farmers here were able to retain their culture, customs and traditional practices for centuries– something that is still evident today when visiting the lesser known terraces such as Hapao. Relatively untouched and further off the tourist trail, Hapao also offers slightly flatter terrain for easier hiking and a magnificent setting among breathtaking mountain scenery. Natural hot springs offer the ultimate relief after explorations on foot.
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