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    Thursday, January 29, 2015

    San Carlos Cave, Cagayan


    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos

    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos

    Cagayan, certainly, has lots of exciting things to offer. It is definitely a haven for the adventurous souls. If our Callao Cave adventure did not satisfy you, then this surely will. The exploration of San Carlos Cave unquestionably topped our list of must-do's in Cagayan.

    Like the Callao Cave, it is also located in the town of Penablanca. Travel time is around 40-45 minutes from Tuguegarao Airport. San Carlos Cave is only one of the 300+ caves in Penablanca and is definitely the most challenging. To conquer it, one must walk barefooted in knee-deep mud, crawl in narrow, muddy, and spiked chambers, and do a one-meter dive in icy cold water just to get to the other side and reach the end of the cave!

    We can agree that this is one of the most difficult caves to explore, but definitely not very technical. It isn't necessary to learn lots of caving techniques here. Your guide will tell you what to do, so listen and just be cautious. We were able to finish it in 3 and half hours.

    GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION

    Country: Philippines

    Region: Cagayan Valley

    Province: Cagayan

    MAJOR JUMP OFF

    The jump-off point is within the Peñablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape in Penablanca, Cagayan. It is only around 4- to 45 minutes away from Tuguegarao.

    HOW TO GET THERE

    By Air - The fastest way to get to Cagayan is through a flight to Tuguegarao. Air travel takes only about an hour. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have available flights going there.
    You can book tickets by clicking on the links below:


    From Tuguegarao Airport, get a tricycle and ask the driver to take you to the van terminal bound to Sta.Ana. The municipality of Sta. Ana is on the northeastern-most point of Luzon. Getting there is around 3 hours.

    By Land – Air-conditioned buses of Victory Liner, Five Star, and Florida Transport have daily trips to Tuguegarao. Land travel usually takes around 10 hours hence these buses usually run night trips.

    Trip schedules have changed due to some new policies of LTFRB and DOTC. In order to know the exact schedule of their trips, please contact the bus company directly. Contact information are provided below:

    Victory Liner

    We have found that only their Pasay and Kamias terminals have scheduled trips going directly to Tuguegarao, but here are the contact details of all of their terminals in Metro Manila and Tuguegarao:

    Pasay Terminal: (632) 833-4403/(632) 833-5019 to 20
    Kamias Terminal: (632) 920-7396
    Cubao Terminal: (632) 727-4688/(632) 410-8986/(632) 727-4534
    Caloocan Terminal: (632) 361-1506/(632) 361-4665 to 66
    Manila Terminal: (632) 559-7735
    Tuguegarao Terminal: (6378) 844-0777

    Five Star

    Pasay Terminal: (632) 851-6614/ (632) 851-6659

    GV Florida Transport

    Sampaloc Terminal:(632) -743380
    Tuguegaro Terminal: (6378)-8462265

    From the airport, get a tricycle to take you directly to the jump-off of the cave. They usually charge Php 600 for a roundtrip ride, but you can negotiate with them if you plan to stay overnight near the cave.

    If you are not very picky with accommodation, we suggest spending the night in Callao Cave Resort so you can leave your backpacks there and get in touch with a local guide. It is not recommended to bring your things, even though they're waterproof, inside the cave as the mud might get in them. However, you can take risks by just putting them inside a plastic or ziplock. Another option is to get a hotel near Tuguegarao and just get a tricycle to take you to and from Penablanca.

    BACKPACKER’S PARADIGM

    After exploring the Callao Cave, we organized our San Carlos Cave adventure for the next day. Our student guide was able to give us Wilber's contact number and he served as our guide. He personally met with us the night before and gave us a few reminders that we have listed below:

    •     Do not wear light-colored clothings as they will get stained by mud.
    •     Bring flashlights or headlamps.
    •     Do not bring any other gadgets (But we were stubborn and had to bring our cameras. We placed them in ziplocks and plastic bags to not get in contact with mud and water)
    •     Have breakfast first. Make sure you have enough energy for this!
    •     Bring enough water for drinking (atleast 500 ML per person).
    We are a group of 4 and only needed 1 guide. However, if you are in a larger group, an additional guide is needed.  The rate is Php 500 per guide.


    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos
    The signage the marks the entrance of the trail leading to the cave.
    Our guide arranged for our tricycle rental the night before and scheduled a 6 AM trip for the next morning. After having our breakfast, we met with our tricycle driver at the resort and he then took us to the jump-off point. We also met our guide, Wilber, along the way. He was riding on his motorcycle. Ask the tricycle driver if you wish to buy some drinking water first so he can take you to a store nearby. It took us around 20-30 minutes to get to the jump-off point.

    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos

    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos

    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos
    The narrow entrance of the cave
    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos

    We had to trek for 20 minutes to get to the entrance of the cave. Before entering, our guide prepared his lamp and gave us a little introduction about the place.

    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos

    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos

    The entrance of the cave is narrow, but it was getting spacious as you land inside. Our guide showed us the rock formations and, of course, the lesson about stalagmites and stalactites.

    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos

    It was fascinating to see the formation of crystals in the cave as well.

    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos

    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos

    After around 10 minutes of walking inside the cave, our guide told us that we had to leave our sandals from there as it would be easier to walk in the mud barefooted. He warned us about the sharp and rough stones hidden in the mud, so we had to be very cautious. You wouldn't know it's there unless you stepped on it!

    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos

    We had to pass through these very narrow and spiky passages through crawling.

    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos

    Although the mud always gets in the way, make sure to still take some time to appreciate the beautiful rock and crystal formations inside the cave.

    Adding more to this challenge was the rock climbing through the sharp rocks. Wearing a pair of gloves would be a big help on this part of the trail.

    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos

    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos

    San Carlos Cave is a river cave and half of it is submerged in water. The most exciting part of this exploration is at the the St. John the Baptist chamber, where you will need to hold your breath and dive into the cold water to get to the other side and reach the end of the cave.

    We weren't able to take a photo of it, because we didn't have a waterproof camera by then, but it was amazing! The subterranean water was clear but very cold. Our guide told us that the only way to get to the other side is to submerge ourselves in water! We were very hesitant and scared because we weren't prepared for that. Wilber insisted that we would regret not doing it. He had been doing it for 5 years, so we thought we were in good hands. We watched him do it first then each of us followed. It was just a one-meter dive, or around 3 seconds of holding your breath. Indeed, one of the best and memorable experiences ever!

    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos

    We survived the challenge but not the mud! We were able to finish it after 3 and a half hours.

    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos

    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos

    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos

    We were like carabaos that bathed into this enchanting stream to wash ourselves clean. It is just located outside the cave.

    san carlos cave, penablanca cagayan, cagayan, san carlos


    The backpackers with our guide, Wilber

    GUIDE’S CONTACT INFORMATION

    Name: Wilber

    Contact Number: +63 926 136 5304

    BUDGET

    For the budget, let’s calculate first the expenses:

    Tricycle fare for 4 persons – Php 600 (roundtrip)

    Accommodation – Php 800

    Food and Water – Php 300

    Guide fee – Php 1000 (including tip; rate is only at Php 500/guide)

    —————————————————————-

    Total Expenses: Php 2,700 / 4 pax = Php 675 (excluding the airfare to Tuguegarao)

    To maximize your budget, we recommend spending the night at Callao Cave Resort then visiting the Callao Cave on your first day and the San Carlos Cave on the next day. Both are on the same location in Penablanca.

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    1 comments:

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