Cagayan - Exploring Callao Cave, my 2nd Spelunking Adventure

I arrived in Tuguegarao City at around 2 in the afternoon. Since Callao cave is just about an hour away from the city, my initial plan is to visit it upon arrival. Just right to have enough time to explore the place and get back to the city before it gets dark. Unfortunately, it was raining hard when I arrived, I had to cancel it and just have it first thing in the morning the following day.

I woke up early on my 2nd day in the city. Too bad, it’s still raining hard that morning. It took me about an hour to decide wether I will push through with the plan or wait until the rains stop. After a few moments of thinking carefully and wishing that the rain would stop, I decided to go. Bahala na!

I went to the city’s central terminal, asked around where I can take a tricycle going to Callao Cave in Peñablanca. They directed me to a fully-packed tricycle. I think we're about 4 inside and 2 at the back of the driver. The travel from Tuguegarao to Peñablance took almost 2 hours, fare is 70 pesos. Oh yes! We were stuffed inside the tricycle like sardines for 2 hours. Hahaha! Good thing it was raining, it wasn’t hot inside.

The tricycle driver brought me to the place where the boats going to Callao Cave are docked. There are 2 routes in going to the cave. I took the longer route since I didn’t hire the tricycle as it is too expensive for solo traveler like me. In this longer route, crossing Pinagcanauan River is needed to reach the cave.

Since it’s been raining for few days already, the water in the river had swollen and the current is really strong. It was scary, but the boatman assured me that it is still passable.

The boat ride only took about 5 minutes. The 2 kids who volunteer as guides in the cave were with me at the boat. We were having a nice chat while traversing the width of the river - it eased me as I didn’t notice that we are already on the other side.

Callao Cave is probably one of the most well-known cave systems in the country. As one of the tourist attractions in Cagayan province, one should not go home without visiting it.

At the reception, I paid for the entrance/environmental fee of 20 pesos. Then they directed me to the stairs that leads to the cave. The 2 guides went with me and served as my guides.

After climbing about 200 steps to the cave's entrance, it's time to get down and dirty. Once you get in, you’ll unexpectedly feel an abrupt change of temperature. It's cold inside! You’ll also feel certain stillness and tranquillity as the chapel on the first chamber greets you. Awesome!

It’s dark inside, but my guides are prepared and brought a flash light. Since it’s been raining for a few days already, the trail is very slippery and muddy. You have to be extra cautious with every step you make.

It is composed of 7 chambers and many different formations such as the Column, Praying angel, the Chapel, Skeleton, mini Banaue Rice Terraces, Elephant’s head, Rocket, Ice cream scoops, Lion’s Head, a silhouette of Michael Jackson and many more.

I suggest that you get a guide so there would be someone who would explain to you the several formations inside. And if I may emphasize, my guides are very articulate and really know a lot about the cave.

As we were exploring the cave, I would sometimes slip and tumble. Wahahaha!!! Luckily I would get my balance back before I hit the floor. Hahaha! It was hard to walk with your slippers on, so I opted to leave my slippers and explored the cave barefooted.

After about an hour and a half, we finished the tour. I washed my feet and rested for a while at the reception area. There are no defined guide fees, so you could give the kids any amount you can.

I had small talks with the staff while waiting for the boat to get to the other side where the tricycle going back to Tuguegarao City is waiting for me.

Option 1: From Tuguegarao City, hire a tricycle that will bring you directly to Callao Cave. Fare may vary, depending on your arrangement with the tricycle driver. Travel time is about an hour.

Option 2: From the city terminal in Tuguegarao City, take tricycle to Peñablanca. Fare is 70 pesos and travel time is 1.5 - 2 hours. From there, take a boat to cross Pinagcanauan River. Fare is 40 pesos (2-way).

Want more? To read my other spelunking adventures, click here.

This is part of my solo northern luzon adventure in Tuguegarao City and Peñablanca in Cagayan and in Tumauini and Cabagan in Isabela province that happened last November 5-7, 2011. Cagayan and Isabela are the 44th and 45th provinces on my list and this adventure is my 13th solo trip. Join me as I crossed a river and a bridge, explored a cave, visited churches, experienced local delicacies and walked through the streets of Tuguegarao City.

Tuguegarao City and Peñablanca

Tumauini and Cabagan

Maps By: Wikipedia


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  1. hello! i'm off to a solo adventure in tuguegarao next week! if i take option 1 going to callao cave, how much do you think it would cost? thanks for this post! :D

    1. hi! i guess it would cost around 600-800 pesos (2-way), including the waiting time... be sure to haggle with the price... have fun there and enjoy! :)

    2. hi,

      is the 600-800 pesos per person? what if you go there in a group of 7.?

    3. that's per tricycle... when we went there last April 2012, we hired the tricycle for 500 pesos, round trip, including the waiting time... depende sa makukuha mong tricycle... their tricycle could fit up to 7 persons...

  2. punta dapat ako dito tapos Palaui ng March kaso mukhang hindi na matutuloy.:/

    1. ay sayang naman... sana matuloy ka... hehehe! gusto ko rin yung Palaui, kaso malayo talaga eh... hehehe!

  3. Astig tlga ng rock formations! ^_^

    1. oh yes! super nice talaga! you have to see it too... :) thanks po! :)

  4. Waaah! Nasa bucket list ko yang cave for this year. Sana matuloy. :)

    1. sana nga... very nice dyan... it's an adventure! thanks Gabz! :)

  5. you should visit also the other destinations in Cagayan Valley like Sta. Ana, Baggao :) marami poing mga hot springs dun and a cave also.

  6. wow... i had to double check to see if this was really taken in the Philippines! First time to see pictures of this cave... and it also, weirdly seems foreign (like somewhere in Brazil and the amazon river haha). Thanks for sharing this. Very interesting indeed. And, definitely a place i wanna visit when i go visit Tuguegarao.

    1. wow! thanks po... the Philippines really is a beautiful country! :)

  7. The first picture looks amazing!
    ng double back ako..
    I remember during my college days, I read a feature of thsi cave..
    I forgot the name of the cave and the location at all, what I remember is the just the photo

    a sunlit chamber inside a cave with church seats inside.. :)
    It's was kind of unique and charming! :)

    1. Thanks Francis! medyu mahirap kuhanan yan kc madilim... daming try ako... hehehe! kelangan di gumalaw, eh wala naman akong tripod so ipinatong ko cya sa bato then 10-sec timer... hahaha!

  8. the chapel looks very much like the holy place it should be, a testimony of how blessed the Philippines is!

  9. nice one. we went there first week of this month but due to time constraints we ended up only at the chapel. 300 pesos lang trike namin direct to the cave. naawa tuloy ako sa driver binarat pala namjn. hehe sana nabasa ko kagad post mo pwede pala daan sa river. thanks for sharing

  10. Isa sa mga pangarap kong puntahan na Cave, mapuntahan ko sana ito this summer. :)

  11. Mervz,

    Galing ng mga pics. Totoo bang hindi laging open ang Callao Cave? Iyong friend ko kasi pumunta early this year. Sabi daw sa kanila, hindi daw laging bukas iyon. Nataunan lang nilang open pero madalas daw, close for shooting or sarado lang talaga at pag sarado, hindi talaga magpapapasok kahit anong pakiusap. Paano kaya iyong mga dumayo pa sa malayo para lang makita ang place pero wala rin pala? I just want to confirm kung totoo iyon. :D



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