Friday, October 2, 2009

Callao Cave: 12-hour Trip, 2-hour Spelunking

After celebrating my birthday in Sagada last September 2nd, we traveled to Tuguegarao a couple of days after. My sister was hesitant because she received an SMS from our mom saying there's a typhoon in the region.

I insisted on pushing through and said, "We're already in north Luzon, it can't be that far from here". And man was I so wrong! I assumed it's only six hours away since a Banaue local told me so. Turned out, it's double that. The travel period was as long as the trip from Manila to Tuguegarao.

Pre-nup photo my sister took in Callao Cave.

We left Sagada around 6:30AM, on board a Bontoc-bound jeep (P40). After an hour, we were dropped off a station where buses to Banaue depart. Our bus' route goes all the way to Santiago, Isabela for only P200. We were told by the conductor that there are frequent trips from Roxas, Isabela to Tuguegarao, so we asked him to drop us off where we can catch the next bus.

We arrived in Roxas at 4:00PM and was able to get on a bus that was about to leave for Tuguegarao (P120). After two more hours, we reached our destination. The bus' conductor recommended Victoria Lodge, conveniently located near Victory Liner (too bad we will not be going straight to Manila after) and beside Brickstone Mall.

Since it was already 6:00PM, we scheduled Callao Cave the next day, early morning. Victoria Lodge charged us P550 for an air-conditioned (fan room not available that time) double room plus P100 for an extra bed. All three off us plopped on our beds, uber exhausted from a twelve-hour trip. However, before calling it a day, we went to sentro to look for an internet shop and eat dinner at a cheap carinderia.

The next day started at 6:00AM. I stressed that we should be finished with spelunking by 11:00AM, so we'd have time to pack our bags after and prepare for check out. Tricycle to riverside is P50 (I have a feeling it could have been cheaper if only we weren't with a foreign tourist). This is where you can get another tricycle to Callao Cave. You will transact with the 'dispatcher', because the trike drivers' names are queued up on his list. Organized, and fair. It also saves tourists from being harassed. Fare is P490 roundtrip. Trike driver will wait for you or come back at an agreed time. Riding the jeep is cheaper, but it may take ages before it's filled up - or it may not be filled up at all! Hence, no trip. Hiring a jeep is advisable for big groups.

Callao Cave is situated in the Municipality of Penablanca, about 30 minutes from Tuguegarao City. There are two ways to get there. You can drive directly to the entrance of the park or cross the river via boat. Option one is available to tourists with private cars, the latter, for those who don't. The trike dropped us off along Pinacanauan River.

Boat is P10 each person, one way. The ticket booth attendant of the park boarded the same boat, we got there just in time for the opening. Admission fee is P20.

Chapel in the first chamber.

Natural crevices let light rays seep into the caves.

We stayed in the cave for about an hour. Sadly, we needed to leave early so we could check-out at 12 noon and catch the soonest trip to Nueva Ecija then Pangasinan then finally Tarlac in time for my father's bithday.

Make sure you read up on the information printed on a tarpaulin just upon entrance to the cave regarding its archaeological exploration.

Buses from Manila to Tugugegarao:
Victory Liner
Price P650 up



arze arce said...
February 27, 2010 at 2:59 PM

Nice photos pinay travel junkie... Whaaa I'm so sad I don't have that much photos came as yours because I only had cellphone camera at that time to capture the moments.

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
March 2, 2010 at 2:44 PM

I understand how you feel, it really sucks to be somewhere amazing and you're not equipped with a good camera. But hey, it's the experience that counts. More adventures for Pinas Backpackers!

arze arce said...
April 17, 2010 at 10:35 AM

more adventure din sayo Pinay Travel Junkie... BTW have you been to surigao del sur... Tinuy-an Falls and Hinatuan Enchanted River is also great... I have posted it on my blog...

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
April 17, 2010 at 5:00 PM

Nope, I have not been there. I have a couple of friends who visited the Enchanted River last year. Beautiful photos! Sana makapunta ako someday.

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