Peñablanca: Captivating Callao Cave
I first saw the Callao Cave in our elementary school textbooks, so when we were given a chance to go here our senses were captivated by its hidden beauty. No wonder why this became a primary and famous natural tourist destination in Cagayan.
This limestone cave can be found in the municipality of Penablanca in Cagayan province. From Tuguegarao, the provincial capital, a 20-kilometer trip must be taken to reach the drop-off point and tourism office of the cave. Because it has been designated as an Eco-Tourism Zone as promoted by the local government, development has become much easier including the building of roads leading here.
At the drop-off point, we paid our entrance fee and we were introduced to Wilmer who served as our guide. The pathways were well-paved and has railing guides installed which made our walking convenient. From the bottom we have to take 184 steps to reach the mouth of the cave. Though the climb is somewhat tiring, you will be rewarded with the scenic landscape of the Pinacauanan River and the wilderness of the town.
The seven chambers of the Callao Cave are made by fissures that allows natural lighting to illuminate its interiors.
The first chamber is called the Aviary Room. This particular chamber has a large opening where natural light as well as some birds can enter. It is said that kalaw (hornbills), where the cave is named from, once thrived the cave. Because of rampant hunting, winged animals (except bats) are now rarely seen. At this place several excavations were made, where several tools and remains of prehistoric people who once lived here were discovered.
Probably the most famous chamber of this cave is called the Divine Room, where the chamber was made into a mini chapel complete with altar and pews. The ray of light comes from a large opening from the top which brings the spiritual and enchanting mood in the chapel. As of now, the chapel is only occasionally used, mostly for wedding.
The Dark Room, like what it is called, is a dark chamber because it has no cracks or fissures where light could have entered. Next is the Cream Room, so called due to a rock formation shaped like a dollop of a whipped cream; and the Jungle Room, named for its animal-shaped rock formations. The sixth chamber is called the Adventurous Room where it contains another cave, which is only accessible at the other end of the mountain.
The last chamber is the Sun Room where the sunrise rays illuminate the room. This room is very enchanting for us because of the sun’s rays illuminating the rock formations. It’s like you’re being brought to a mystical place especially when being struck by light rays.
It took us more than an hour to explore the entire cave complex. No time has been wasted as we were amazed with its extraordinary beauty and natural wonder created by God.
From Tuguegarao, take the Peñablanca-Callao Cave Road towards the drop-off point. It has a distance of 20 kilometers and you will be passing through the towns of Peñablanca, Pincauanan River and some of its barangays. The stretch of the road also serves as the parking site of the said tourist spot.
From Tuguegarao take the tricycle going to the town of Peñablanca. Upon reaching the town take another tricycle and tell the driver to drop you off at the Callao Cave. If going by group, it is better to hire a tricycle to wait for you while taking the tour, because of the scarcity of passing vehicles at the vicinity.
Regular Fee: P20
Senior Citizen: P15
*Bring your valid ID
Guide Fee depends on your generous offer
8:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Phone: (078) 846-7576
- E-mail: Cagayantourism@yahoo.com
- Plan your trip well. Chambers are illuminated brighter in the mornings. Also check the local weather forecasts as the roads and pathways are more slippery during rainy weather, making exploration difficult.
- Bringing tripod is a must: taking sharp, stable photos are difficult as most parts of the cave are dim and some have no light at all.
- For first-time explorers, hire a guide. They are the experts here to ensure that your trip will be a safe, educational and unforgettable experience.
- If passing by the town of Penablanca, don’t forget to try the tasty Pancit Batil Patong that is usually being offered in carinderias and panciterias.
Like other tourist spots, the cave is prone to vandalism (and it’s visible in some portions of the cave walls). But since it was developed as an Eco-Tourism Zone the site became protected and cared of with the help of the locals.