Minalungao National Park! Yahoo! Summer has always been my favorite season. Except for the hot weather, almost everyone likes this exciting part of the year. Thus, the hot summer season led us to explore one of the few remaining natural environment in Central Luzon. It was one of those days that I just want to leave and be somewhere. So I invited my friend to explore one of Nueva Ecija's hidden gems - Minalungao National Park in the town of General Tinio.
It is one of those places that only a few have been to. I've been wanting to visit this place since I saw photos of it from friends. Since then, I was enticed that I should see it for myself. From Manila, we hopped on a bus bound for Cabanatuan City and reached Gapan, Nueva Ecija after 2 hours. Since it was still very early in the morning, we had our breakfast first in one of the fast food chains at the town center. After which, we hired a tricycle going to Papaya. Please note that Papaya is the old name of General Tinio, that's why locals more often than not, still call it Papaya. The tricycle ride costs 150 pesos, travel time is about 45 minutes.
Upon arrival in Papaya, we went to the municipal hall to ask for some information on getting to Minalungao National Park. We wanted to know the easiest way to get there and how much should it cost. Thanks a lot to the very accommodating staff at the information desk for helping us with the information that we need.
At the tricycle terminal, we hired one tricycle. He asked for 250 pesos for a 2-way trip to the Minalungao. We're okay with that, considering the place is far from the town proper. It took us 45 minutes on bumpy and unpaved road to reach the park. It made me realize that it's best to go here on a sunny day, as muddy road maybe your greatest obstacle in getting there. I've heard from the locals that the road here had greatly improved. I could see newly concreted roads, but there's still long kilometers of unpaved road. I guess it will be improved through time.
Minalungao National Park is a protected area enacted on 1967 by virtue of Republic Act No. 5100. It is known for its clean flowing river, towering rock formations, and clean and peaceful environment. One of the most distinguishable features of the park are the high limestone walls on both sides leading to a cave. One must be extra careful in traversing the side of the limestone walls as it is slippery and a single mistake can lead to accident.
Along the way, we passed by the cave but we didn't enter it. We just took some photos from the outside.
We went all the way to the far end of the river where the water is shallow, which is perfect for swimming. I had an awesome time enjoying the cool water and savoring the lush verdant environment.
Going back, we climbed the concrete stairs leading the top which leads all the way down to the cottage area.
Locals residing at the park are easily available to guide any visitor wishing to explore the place. I highly recommend our guide, Mang Tacio. He is fun to be with as he gives a lot of information about the place. He doesn't have any standard rate for his guiding service, just give him any amount you wish to give. I don't have his contact number, just ask for him when you get there.
Cottages for picnics are available. There are also stores where you could buy snacks and refreshments. But it is best that you bring food and drinks when you visit the place.
Swimming, hiking, camping, raft riding, spelunking and cliff diving are just some of the activities that can be enjoyed in Minalugao.
The awesome geological features characterized by stunning rock formations, serene environment and clean flowing river are just some of the reasons you must visit this place. Truly, Minalungao National Park is one of Nueva Ecija's well-kept secrets.
HOW TO GET TO MINALUNGAO NATIONAL PARKFrom Manila, take a Cabanatuan-bound bus and get off at Gapan, Nueva Ecija, tell the bus attendant to drop you in Bucana. Fare is 160 pesos and travel time is 2 hours. From there, hire a tricycle or take a jeepney going to Gen. Tinio (Papaya), fare is 150 per tricycle (1-way), travel time is 45 minutes. In Papaya, hire a tricycle to Minalungao, fare is 250 pesos minimum (round trip) per tricycle depending on how long you will be staying at the park (please do additional payment if you will be staying longer), travel time from town proper to the park is 45 minutes.
Going back to Manila, take a jeepney in Papaya going to Cabanatuan. Fare is 47 pesos, travel time is 1 hour. Then take any Manila-bound bus. Fare is 185 pesos, travel time is about 2.5 hours.
SUMMARY OF EXPENSESBus Fare (Manila-Gapan) - 160
Breakfast - 100
Tricycle to Papaya (150/2) - 75
Tricycle to Minalungao (250/2) - 125
Guide (200/2) - 100
Snacks - 30
Jeepney (Papaya-Cabanatuan) - 47
Lunch - 70 pesos
Bus (Cabanatuan-Manila) - 185
TOTAL - 892 PHP each
NOTE: This is the estimated expenses for a group of 2 persons on a day tour to the park.
More photos on Pinoy AdvenTurista's Facebook Page, click here.
*This trip happened on March 20, 2013. Some photos used in this post were grabbed from my friend, Gil Lian
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