Sunday, April 15, 2012

Nueva Vizcaya's Capisaan Cave, my personal enclave

It's summer!!! We were all itching for a vacation. Although... Where to go, where to go? The initial plan was to go to Quezon but we're KIND OF tired of beaches. That's when I remembered the trip to Sagada when we passed by the very foggy Nueva Vizcaya. Cool weather, here we come!

After some research, I found that there's little information on Nueva Vizcaya. We decided to just play it by ear. My favorite kind of adventure! We went there armed with just a hotel reservation for a superior room (Php1200.00) with Highlander Hotel right along the highway in Bayombong. (It turned out we didn't need to reserve since we were the only guests.) 

I drove through to the first leg of NLEX (wee!), switched with Fred who exited at the Sta. Rita and headed on to Bulacan, past Plaridel, Pulilan, Baliuag, San Rafael, San Miguel, San Isidro. It's best to get past these towns before the day starts because traffic can be really bad during rush hour, lengthening your journey. On to Nueva Ecija through Gapan, San Leonardo, Santa Rosa, Cabanatuan, Talavera and San Jose. We finally reached Nueva Vizcaya! But we still had to drive through the long, winding roads of Santa Fe, Aritao and Bambang. Bayombong, at loong last. We clocked in 6 hours of travel time at a very fast speed. (Won't say how fast in case we get ticketed because of this!)

I figured we can get information from the hotel on how to go to Capisaan Cave, since their website endorsed the tourist spots but didn't provide information. It turned out they can't help us as well. We decided to go to Bambang to ask the local tricycle drivers. They told us to ask in Solano. When we got to Solano, we asked and were told to go to Bambang. Okay, that was quite confusing. Travel tip #1 for Nueva Vizacaya, ask three times before you believe any direction. We finally talked with a police officer who pointed us to right direction. (Apparently, foreign tourist go to Kapitolyo to hire a guide to bring them to Bgy. Capisaan. Wee! We saved some asking around instead.)

We foraged for food and ended up eating in Greenwich Pizza (I never realized their pizzas taste so yummy!) because they don't have any local eateries at all. After playing some Monopoly Deal, we decided to store up rest for the following day.

We woke up early to search for abuos which was a disappointment. We went on to Capisaan Cave. 

(Directions:) We went through the market of Solano until we reached a bridge under which kids love to swim and play. There were some simple huts where the locals cook some food during low tide and which they leave to waters during high tide. We went left on the split. We went through very rocky roads through Bgy. Aurora, Bgy. Darubba, Bgy. Kalaocan, Bgy. Runruno (where the locals in Aurora thought the Capisaan Caves were.) But we went left following a signage (didn't say Capisaan). 

We reached a river which the locals just casually cross with their trucks and motors. We stayed here a bit thinking how to cross it. It wasn't that shallow and we were afraid of getting stuck. After much thinking, Fred just went in the car and stepped on the gas and plough through the river. 

After the river was just Bgy. Wangal and we were finally in Bgy. Capisaan. This was after 3.5 hours of travel through very bad roads.

We met with Ferdinand Madawat (0915-7964227). He is the local tour guard. We had some canned goods cooked and filled up ourselves for the challenge that lay before us. We proud to say that last year, only 300 tourists visited this cave. This year, they're doing a lot more dismally and we flipped through their log book to see just a handful of tourists (mainly from the area as well). I thought this sad. I'm hoping blogging about it would help improve their tourism!

This is their humble abode/eatery. We stayed here for quite a while eating and just resting. Saul even sang a song in their videoke.  

They have a restroom guests can use. Meh says it's the typical restroom in the provinces. For those that are a little more queasy regarding restrooms.. Well, try and bring Holy Seat spray. Ha.Ha. :D

After much "duding-duding", we finally we off to the cave at 1pm with our 2 guides, JR & Jun plus Ferdinand who's the newly appointed tour guard but only went in once when he was a kid. We drove to the Alayan Cave entrance 1. After getting off, we walked through the trail of dirt roads then rice terraces and through the forest until we reached the entrance tired already (I was at least). 

Unlike the caves of Sagada, this is fairly easy. You go in for 5 minutes and you'll already be rewarded with the sight of beautiful God-made formations. It's also mostly flat so there's no knee-aching up and down stone steps. This is also a lot less strenuous since they built wooden stairs for parts that are hard to climb. 

A bit like the cave of the Puerto Princesa Underground River, Capisaan Cave System is 70% filled with water.

We can't get over the many formations of stalactites and stalagmites, as well as columns. I love the sight of so many stalagmites protruding left and right of the paths. I also love the mini stalactites or soda straws as they call it:

We walked through waters, then waded through it at some parts. I hit my head once at a stalactite (hope it's fine!) because there were a lot of parts where we had to bow low to go through. This isn't for the oldies with bad backs! The worst water part I think was where the water was so deep we just swam through the hole. Though Fred chose to stay dry and hold on to the side. (Kill joy!) There were also parts where the water was just thigh deep but the ceiling was too low so we had to "duck walk". 

I love that some formations glitter. It's so sad that we can't touch them. The guides said they'd turn to dust because they're made of corals. *Mind you, the pictures does no justice to the beauty of it.

Meanwhile, stalactites and stalagmites aren't made to be held as well since they turn into brownish when you touch them. At some point, there's no choice but to touch them but we refrain as much as possible. It's good though that at some parts, the formations are so high up that there are lots of them that are still pure and untainted. It's where you'll see the beauty of purity.

When we finally went out the other side at the Lion's Entrance (near the hut) it was 3.30 pm. Not bad, since they expected it to be 4 hours long. Fred rode the motorcycle with one guide to retrieve the car while our host, the wife of our guide, cooked some good meal and fed us (for FREE!). 

Capisaan Cave System I might say is a good introductory to spelunking. It's nothing extreme yet beautiful and still cheap at P100 if just until Sang-at Salug entrance and P200 if until Alayan entrance 1.  Good price don't you think? 

Furthermore, I love the hospitality of the people, they are yet to be influenced by modernization. They're very friendly and selfless. They give whatever they can without asking for anything in return. :)

Sadly, as good as they are, they really aren't helpful with getting around their province. Ferdinand told us that a better paved (read: CEMENTED!) road can be travelled through Bambang. It's what we used going back. We went back the way we went but made a U-turn where a sign read Kasibu (we crossed two rivers) and traveled through Bgy. Papaya, Kasibu and the Bambang. Travel time was shorter at 3 hours and the car was soo thankful for us. It's best to go here with a 4x4 or any car you don't mind scratching and killing. The road through here is actually longer but it's faster since we were driving at the average of 60kph rather than earlier when we were traveling at 20kph. This is my recommended route. :)


  1. Wow! What a great adventure! Walang white lady or kapre sa cave? :p

  2. thanks for this blog, i would like know to know though, if there is a public transportation from bambang to Bgy. Malabing?

  3. you're very much welcome. :) We saw jeeps coming and going so there should be public transportation. Your concern there will be the time since it's not often they make that trip.

  4. you can travel to nueva vizcaya through bagabag airport,
    try it! i think it would not take long instead of riding a
    land that way you can visit additional places in nueva vizcaya. :)

    1. I'll check into that next time we go. :) Thanks for the tip!

  5. hey. :)if you don't mind, if you were to choose, what transportation would you like?through air or land? thanks...

    1. Hey! :) I think I would still prefer to travel by land, but that's just me. I love road trips, stopping by places to eat roadside snacks and the long conversations or singing along to music, crazy stuff are bound to happen. :) I always prefer bring a car along for comfort and ease when traveling around a new place. :)

  6. Thank you for visiting Nueva Vizcaya! It's wonderful that you have highlighted the beauty of the area as well as the difficulties of travel in the rural interior. I hope you have inspired more people to put aside their worries and see the hidden beauty of the Philippines. I think the difficulty finding places like this is the main reason the visitation is low. While they really want to help, I find that many rural people don't really know much detail about places much beyond walking distance of their home barangay. It's articles like yours that can help improve things. Thanks!!!

  7. Hi. Please help me out on who to contact to get there. Local tour guard's number published in this blog can no longer be contacted. If you can email me the details, it would be of big help. thanks