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Cagayan’s Captivating Callao Cave

October 22nd, 2010 by

Travelers to tropical Philippines have numerous options to choose from to make their vacations unique and memorable.  There are secret beaches to uncover, mountain ranges to conquer, and brilliant wildlife to observe.  One great adventure to embark on is a journey up north to see the mysterious Callao Cave.

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Callao Cave is in Cagayan Province in the Cagayan Valley region of Luzon, Philippines.  To be specific, the cave resides near the town of Peñablanca, in the villages of Quibal and Parabba.  The cave is named after the Kallaw bird which used to exist in big numbers in the area.  Unfortunately, the population has dwindled because of hunters.

From Cagayan Province’s capital, Tuguegarao City, the drive to Callao Cave is about half an hour.

It’s a different case for travelers who embark from hotels in Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines.  The more adventurous ones can choose to do a road trip.  There are a lot of bus companies that ply the Manila-Cagayan route every day including the bigger groups like Victory Liner and Baliwag Transit.  As Cagayan is located almost five hundred kilometers away from Manila, travel time will last anywhere from ten hours to fifteen hours depending on the weather and the season.  Bus fare is about US$ 15 for regular coach seats and close to US$ 20 for luxury seats in a straight-trip air-conditioned bus.  Those pressed for time can take a one-hour Air Philippines flight to Tuguegarao.

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Even if faced with a long bus trip, locals and tourists alike flock to Cagayan’s awesome natural wonder. Callao Cave’s seven chambers are made singular by fissures that allow natural light to seep in and subtly illuminate the interior. Stalagmites and stalactites dramatically jut and protrude at every turn.

In order to reach the mouth of the cave, visitors ascend a staircase with an observation deck that affords scenic views of the Pinacanauan River and contiguous landscape.

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The first major chamber is the Aviary Room.  This particular chamber has a lot of crevices which allow daylight to seep in, along with different creatures and small birds (hence the name).

The second chamber, the Divine Room, is the most popular. The space is an active church complete with an altar and pews.  A dramatic ray of light from a big gap in the chamber roof floods the interior. Various shots and angles of this chamber grace the pages of travel publications on a regular basis.

The third chamber, the Dark Room, is devoid of fissures and as a result, light as well.  Guides use incandescent bulbs to light the path through the chamber.

The next chamber is the Cream Room, which contains a rock formation that looks like three dollops of whipped cream. 

Next up is the Jungle Area. It got this particular name because of several rock formations that look like different animals, from a “Giant Turtle” to “King Kong”. 

The sixth chamber, or Adventurous Area, houses a second cave that is only accessible from the other side of the mountain.

The Sun Room is the last chamber of Callao Cave.  Every sunrise rays peek inside through cracks on the cave wall.

First-time explorers to Callao Cave should commission a local expert and not take the trip solo. Guides will ensure a safe, educational and memorable experience.

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