Popularly known as the “Rice Bowl of the Philippines”, Nueva Ecija is the biggest rice producer of Central Luzon. But aside from its vast rice fields, the province conceals a travel gem that people recently has been ravaging about – Minalungao National Park.
Minalungao National Park
A protected area located in the municipality of General Tinio, Minalungao came from the two words “mina” (mine) and “lungao” (cave). The park covers an area of over 2,000 hectares situated at the hills of Sierra Madre mountain range. The wonders of Minalungao National Park lie in the emerald waters of Peñaranda river decorated by beautiful rock formations. Stunning as it is, some can even feel a Palawan vibe with the park’s scenery.
As our Lakbay Norte group arrived in the place after an approximate travel time of four hours from Manila, numerous bamboo rafts parading the river immediately caught my attention.
Unfortunately, we were told that the current was strong and we can’t go rafting. Some guests who went prior to us tried but they were forced to end immediately. My heart was slightly saddened as I was really looking forward to explore more of the river – to even see beyond the splendor of the towering rock formations. It was actually a gloomy weather during our visit, the gray clouds say so. The river was also noticeably not in its real beauty with its moss green color which is usually the case during downpours. But wait, our story didn’t end just like that.
With the help of the friendly guides, we still rode the bamboo raft but only at a distance where they can just pull the raft with a rope and tie it at one side of the river. Still, I was in awe. As I sat down at one edge of the bamboo, I immersed my legs in the waters. It was damn cold. I felt the strong pressure of the current going against our raft. Coming from Mt. Pinatubo hike just the day before, the frigid river seemed to give my limbs a restorative massage.
Aside from bamboo rafting, Minalungao National Park also offers other activities like trekking. Some members from our group chose to trek a thousand concrete steps to get a panoramic view of the place. Reaching the summit, a man-made cross can be seen.
View from the Hanging Bridge
Conquering any fear of heights? Then the park’s hanging bridge may quite be a challenge. I do not panic with great heights but it makes my heart skip a beat. The hanging bridge at Minalungao looked new and safe. More interestingly, standing at its middle will give you a unique view of the river and the rock formations. Amazing vantage point it is!
Other activities that can be enjoyed at Minalungao National Park are as follows:
- Cliff Diving
Minalungao National Park Rates and Fees
Admission Fee: PHP30
Bamboo Raft Rental (good for 4-6 persons): PHP500
Cottage Rental: PHP200
Parking Fee: P50
Comfort Room: P10
Disclosure: This Lakbay Norte trip was organized by North Philippines Bureau (NPVB) in partnership with Manila North Tollways Corporation / NLEX-SCTEX, Victory Liner, Inc., Nueva Ecija Convention and Visitors Associations (NECVA), and Cagayan North Convention and Visitors Bureau (CNCVB). Lakbay Norte is an annual media familiarization trip aiming to promote Philippine provinces in the north.
Sponsored by: Department of Tourism – Region 2, Department of Tourism – Region 3, Petron Corporation and Prifood Corporation.