I am a rice terrace addict. There aren’t many other kinds of landscapes that are shaped by both nature and culture. The Ifugao people of north-central Luzon in the Philippines built some of the world’s biggest rice terraces 2000 years ago. The terraces follow the contours of the deep valleys and steep cliffs. The Ifugao rice terraces around Banaue are a UNESCO World Heritage site, feature on the Filipino currency, and are nicknamed the ‘8th Wonder of the World.’
The terraces immediately surrounding Banaue aren’t inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The agency disapproves of the amount of building and development that is taking place in the town. You need to get out of town and visit one of the smaller villages like Batad or Hungduan to be able to say you’ve seen the World Heritage site.
But the terraces around Banaue are still staggeringly beautiful. There are at least four viewpoints on the road leading north of town. We visited at several times of day to get the best effect of the changing light and shadows. When we visited in the middle of April, the terraces were at varying stages of cultivation. Some areas were bare and flooded, others were full of tall green stalks of rice.
We don’t have any crazy stories or mishaps to relate in this post. The best thing to do there is to take in the views of the terraces. You can also goof around with the Ifugao old-timers dressed in traditional clothing. Here are our favorite photos from our visit.
Incredible images, both of the people and their landforms. Still trying to wrap my mind around the engineering required to a) build the terraces and b) divert water to each one. Dad
Rice terraces have systems of small pipes and channels that carry water downhill. My understanding is that wet rice farming is only done in areas with enough rainfall to guarantee a constant supply of water.
It is incredible how much earth the builders moved with simple tools.