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Unplanned trips may be great, but figuring out what to do at the place you have headed to is not. Thank the heavens for data and WiFi connection at the hotel, I was able to research online what activities I could be busy about in Cagayan Valley. My chosen activity is to go to Callao Cave (pronounced as KAL-law), one of the multiple cave systems that could be found near the stretch of the Cagayan River, the longest river in the entire Philippines.

From Tuguegarao City, I traveled to Penablanca, Cagayan to visit the Callao Cave. The roughly 45-minute travel to the cave is no mean feat. I have to endure the heat of the sun (Cagayan is a province in the northern Philippines, so this is expected) and to be squeezed in a tricycle that takes 5 or 6 passengers per trip. Portions of roads that have not been developed into cement-rendered vehicle pathways also posed a challenge going to the caves. Heck, I twist and tumble and hit my head on the tricycle sidecar ceiling almost the entire trip!

Before setting foot to the cave itself, one must cross the Pinacanauan River. It was a short and sweet three to five-minute boat ride towards the other end of the river which only cost me Php10.

Climbing up towards the Callao Cave tourist reception area I already saw groups of visitors ranging from students, families, friends, and residents of the town of Penablanca getting ready to tour the cave, with their designated tour guides waiting on the sides. I was accompanied by my tour guide, Tiburcio (at least that was what he was called by the other tour guides), who advised me to make sure I have sufficient amount of drinking water brought with me as the cave tour starts with a climb to some 184 steps up from tour reception area. Wheeeew! However, this is still a bit easy as there is a dedicated trail path for all the cave visitors.

Welcome to Callao Cave signage

Callao Cave trailpath 184 steps
The climb starts here!

Callao Cave trailpath 172nd step
I'm almost there. Whoo!

Upon reaching the cave, you will be welcomed with this magnificent, definitely not-man-made portal of natural, unexplored beauty.

Callao Cave entry

The inside of the Callao Cave is a mix of illumination and darkness, as the chambers either have top crevices or opening where the sunlight can pass through or is entirely cladded and can only be navigated through using a flashlight.

Callao Cave has seven chambers, two of which were closed to the public a long time ago. The five remaining chambers each has its own "theme". The first one is The Chapel which is situated near the spacious entry of the cave.

Callao Cave - The Chapel

Walking farther to inside, tourists will be treated to unbelievably-shaped rock formations and some of which are:

Angels' Wings - Callao Cave 2019
Can you see the Angel?

Merlion/Lion's Head - Callao Cave 2019
The Merlion/Lion's Head

The Skeleton - Callao Cave 2019
The Skeleton

The Elephant's Head - Callao Cave 2019
The Elephant's Head

The Snake and Crocodile - Callao Cave 2019
My tour guide explaining to me the growth and death of limestones while showing the Snake and Crocodile rock formation

Despite its generally enclosed nature, it is pretty chilly inside the Callao Cave. My tour guide explained this condition scientifically (which I cannot recall properly) talking about acid minerals, stalactites, and rocks "dying" due to mishandling and negligence of visitors giving the cold temperature inside the cave.

Must-Knows When Going to Callao Cave:
1. Ride a tricycle from the Penablanca Tricycle Terminal. (Php45 per person)
2. Pay Php20 for Callao Cave entrance
3. Pay Php20 for a boat ride to Callao Cave (to and from the cave)
4. Give your tour guide a tip.

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