Thursday, April 11, 2013

Callao Cave System, one of the largest cave systems in the Philippines is here at Cagayan

March 29, 2013

One of the largest cave systems in the Philippines can be found at Penablanca, Cagayan at the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. The cave system features large chambers amounting up to a total seven with magnificent large stalactites, stalagmites and columns that illuminates at dark. This cave system is a must-visit when you happen to pass by Tuguegarao City, Cagayan Valley's capital city where Callao Cave is just about 25 kilometers away.

The Callao Cave is an important part of the country's pre-historic past as a human metatarsal was found in this cave last 2007 which antedates to about 67,000 years. A whopping 20,000 years older than the one found in the Tabon Cave of Palawan which was thought as the first inhabitants of the Philippine archipelago.

The area to where Callao cave is situated is composed of several cave system which includes the Sierra Cave and many others. Unfortunately the Sierra cave visit is by appointment by local tourist officers.

Callao cave is always open to tourists and with natural light easements on most of its chambers, light comes in naturally and give a natural artistry on how the limestones sparkle when illuminated by it.

The best time to get to the cave is 10AM to 2PM where the sun is high up to reach the natural easements above the chambers.

The cave is composed of seven chambers but 5 of it is only allowed to be accessed as the 6th and 7th according to the guides are dangerous due to steep ascent, loose rocks and slippery surfaces.

6th and 7th chambers below.

The cave is naturally cold which you will feel as you enter its large entrance.

Cave Entrance

The 1st chamber is converted by the locals as a chapel while the remaining chambers holds various mineral formation of which most of them shines naturally when illuminated by light.

1st Chamber: Coverted to a chapel

Naturally illuminating limestones when touched by light.

From Tuguegarao City, you may ride a tricycle at its main tricycle station in front of Mariton Grocery near Don Domingo Public Market (see map). The tricycles there always go to Callao, Penablanca as the locals of Callao always buy their supplies from Don Domingo Market. The tricycle would have to wait to fill up their small trikes with 7 passengers to which you need to be patient with over a bumby 25 kilometer, 1-hour ride to the cave's jump-off. The fee is only Php 40/pax one way. Do not believe them if they say a special trip is required for which you need to pay more.

Tricycle Station in front of Mariton Don Domingo Public Market

Once at the jump-off, you are required to pay the tourism officers at the registration area for Php 20/each and ride a bangka to cross the Pinancauanan river for P20/person 2-way. The river is clean and clear and the deepest part of it is 2-person deep. You may swim at it if you wish to.

Pinancauanan River

A young guide will approach you to offer their service. Fee is donation basis. I personally suggest to get a guide so you may be able to know the history of the cave and the mineral formations available on each chamber. I personally donated P200 to our guide as she is good on memorizing her lines and acquainting me with the contents of the cave. This is without any idea of the standard guide rate at Callao. I do insist to be good to them. Each guide can take up to 5 guiding sets per day.

Together with our guide, Alyza

After crossing the river, you would need to climb a 183-step stairs to reach the caves' mouth and the adventure starts.

Like any other tourist spots I've seen at Cagayan Valley, they are in neglect and vandals have victimized its old walls; and so I urge the government to do something to protect this national treasure.

Notice the culprit that vandalized both Cape Engano at Palaui
and Callao Cave at Penablanca. (104 kilometers away on air)

Alyza Danao (Callao Guide) +63 906 9395871

Callao Cave is part of Schadow1 Expedition's itinerary to the northeastern tip of Luzon for its mapping expedition. Over 100 waypoints and tracks gained from our road trip to Cagayan Valley and the mapping expedition of Cagayan Valley has been contributed to +OpenStreetMap Philippines  for free use of Filipinos who would like to use this data for navigation and humanitarian purposes.

Openstreetmap Philippines Map (link)
Schadow1 Expeditions Contributions (link)

How to use for your Navigation System (link)

View Cagayan Road Trip in a larger map

For a more detailed account of Schadow1 Expeditions' Palaui Island and Cagayan Valley Mapping Expedition, check on the links below:

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