Exploring Callao Cave!


A perfect, sunny day in May greeted us immediately after landing in the Tuguegarao Airport. Hello Tuguegarao, indeed!

We did not want to waste any time after landing in the airport (hence our backpacks), we immediately hailed a tricycle for us to be taken to Callao Cave in Penablanca Cagayan. But the airport tricycles seem to be very inconsiderate to tourists as they were overcharging us for Php 4oo for a one way ride to Penablanca for both Pao and I. Of course, we did not agree, for it was really over priced so we just hopped on another tricycle instead. We just opted to be taken to the tricycle terminal  not far from the airport where there were lots of tricycles heading to Penablanca. And true enough, tricycles in that terminal were fairer in pricing their fares as the driver charged us 200 per way (making it 400 round trip) from the Tuguegarao Tricycle Terminal to Penablanca. That was practically half off the original quoted fare from the airport! And the tricycle driver was more than willing to wait for us to finish exploring the depths of the beautiful cave!

Tricycle to Penablanca, check! And so our journey to the Callao Cave began! It was a 30-45 minute ride inside the tricycle, with fresh provincial air blowing onto our faces!  The driver was kind enough to bring us at the other entrance of the cave, where we could enter through the mouth of the Pinacauan River.  We were told that there were two entrances: one entrance from land, another one entrance from water. We were grateful that we were taken at the mouth of the Pinacauan River, one of the major tributaries of the Cagayan River, the longest, widest and most powerful river in the Philippines. And yes, it was such a lovely experience being able to ride through the river first hand because the river was just so clean and clear. The pictures would not even do it justice.

To get to the top of the cave, you have to climb at least 183 steps. It could be a little bit challenging but it was a little feat compared to Mt. Tapyas in Coron, Palawan which required 700 steps!

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, indeed.

Natural sky lights, stalactites, stalagmites, columns, Callao Cave offers infinite possibilities of exploration! Callao Cave is part of a system of a system of 300 caves, only a few of which have been explored. Callao Cave is located in Penablanca, 45 minutes away from the city proper of Tuguegarao.

The Chapel Chamber

What beauty! Natural rock formations turned into a place of prayer!

The Chapel Chamber has a natural skylight above!

The beautiful altar

It may be said that Callao Cave is one of the most popular caves in the Philippines. Because of this, it is one of the most visited and best known tourist attraction in Cagayan Province. Callao Cave is comprised of seven chambers, with 5 sky lights, and various formations of stalactites, stalagmites, and columns. The seven chambers are named: the Column, Chapel, Skeleton, Elephant’s Head, Praying Angel, Rocket, Lion’s Head and Dog’s Head Formations. The Chapel is the most popular chamber in the cave being the chamber that was converted into a Cathedral. Several weddings have been officiated in the chamber and the mere realization of being in the Chapel chamber was truly unbelievably inspiring.

And yes, one of the more popular movies shot in Callao Cave is Star Cinema’s The Mistress, starring John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonso.

Natural stalactites and stalagmites!

natural skylight!

Also in this cave is where the Callao man (Callao Hominin) was excavated. There is still an ongoing project studying the said excavation. It is said that it is even older than the Tabon man, the oldest homo sapiens sapiens that we know of here in the Philippines. Surprisingly, one of my professors back in college was one of the foremost proponents in this project.

Make sure if you are visiting Tuguegarao that you will sample their special egg noodle dish called  PANCIT BATIL PATONG. It is super tasty and yummy. I heard they put carabao beef as one of the ingredients hence the rich taste! You can sample the yummy noodle dish all around Tuguegarao. It has become a staple dish all around!


By Bus:

  • Ride a bus from Manila to Tuguegarao
  • Hail a tricycle from Tuguegarao to Penablanca
  • Tricycle fare would be around 200 per person per way

By Plane:

  • Fly from Manila to Tuguegarao
  • Hail a tricycle from Tuguegarao to Penablanca
  • Tricycle fare would be around 200 per person per way

7 responses »

  1. why dont you write about other topics,i’m sure maraming interested sa inyo.tipong patty laurel blog ang gawin mo,may potential tong blog mo,promise.hindi lang travels kahit iba din topic that has to do with you(with the both of you,wag mo kalimutan yan teacher)

    • Wow. To be mentioned with Patty Laurel all in the same comment is an honor. Sana lang nga umabot ng ganong level ang blog ko.

      I’ll try, bilang full time preschool teacher ako! I only get to write during my free time. Pero thank you for such a wonderful insight!

  2. Hi, I just want to clarify if the tricycle ride to Peñablanca (Callao Cave) is really Php 400 per person (roundtrip) or Php400 per tricycle? Thanks very much for your infos!

      • Perfect! This is the post that I’m looking for. We’re also planning the same thing, We don’t want to waste any time, we want to take ourselves to Callao Cave as soon as we arrive Tuguegarao Airport. Thanks for the advise Ma’am Mai!

  3. hi can you please give me an idea coz me and my hubby are planning for an out of town trip on chritmass till new year callao cave is one of my list then batanes po sana kaya lang walang flight going to batanes on dec 28 onwards san po kaya maganda pang place..

    • I think boat rides are available from Santa Ana, Cagayan going to Batanes. I’m just not sure how much the fares are, but I know it’s possible to just take a boat from Cagayan to Batanes.

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