Minalungao National Park: It's Worth Your Visit

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

minalungao national park

You know how you see a place and think, "Oh, wow! Who knew something like that could exist in the Philippines?" This was exactly the case when I saw photos of Minalungao National Park on my Facebook feed.

With its liquid jade, incredible rock formations, and proximity to the Metro, there was absolutely no way I was going to miss out on this place. I had to see it for myself.

So off Dennis and I went on a cool late summer day, among the early leaves of June. The bus ride took more or less two hours on that Saturday morning. After another hour of vaulting from one pothole to another, the the tricycle we were riding finally arrived in General Tiñio or to what is known as Papaya to the locals.

We paid Php30 each plus another Php20 for the parking fee of the tricycle. Two kids then followed us and we allowed them to be our guides.

At first glance, Minalungao National Park looked a lot like Tinipak River and Wawa Dam. All three had the characteristic rock formations and the general vibe of wonder. Like Wawa Dam, it had the unpretentious bamboo rafts cruising athwart its jade waters. Like Tinipak, it had big enough boulders and deep enough waters for cannonballs. It had the same rustic aura of its sisters in Rizal – which to some may seem crude and half-done, but this I find charming.

minalungao national park

minalungao national park

Another similarity is the system of caves that can be accessed through a makeshift bamboo bridge over a significant gorge. But what sets Minalungao from Tinipak and Wawa is the walkway through a coppice of bamboos and occasional hardwoods. It had stairs hewn from rock that lead to a grotto perched on one of Minalungao's higher rock formations. The grotto had a big tiled cross and a pretty nice bird's eye view of the place.
minalungao national park nueva ecija
Like in Tinipak River and Wawa Dam, there are also cave systems in Minalungao
minalungao national park nueva ecija
Stone-hewn stairway that lead to the grotto
minalungao national park nueva ecija
The path to the grotto goes through a bamboo forest
minalungao national park nueva ecija
A huge tiled cross can be found on the grotto
I'd like to tell you to just come here in Rizal, because you'd get essentially the same thing, but I know one thing we all learned from traveling is that no two places are alike. The difference may not be readily noticeable on the surface, but if we look closer, we'll find some peculiarity that'll connect with us on a personal level. This, I think, is enough of a reason to come visit Minalungao National Park. Oh and also, I believe it's about time we give Nueva Ecija some love.
minalungao national park nueva ecija
Even balsas have traffic jams
How to Get There
From Cubao, get on a bus bound to Cabanatuan. 5 Star, ES Travel, and Genesis – bus lines that have terminals in Cubao – all have buses that travel to there. Get off at Gapan, Nueva Ecija, in front of Puregold (or just tell the driver you're bound to General Tiñio and request that you be dropped off at the most convenient stop). Here, there are a number of tricycles that can chauffeur you to and fro Minalungao.

To get back to Cubao, you can catch buses at the same stop you got off before taking a tricycle to General Tinio. There are plenty of Manila-bound buses that pass by there.

Expenses (as of January 2017)
Bus fare ranges from Php145 to Php160, one way. Roundtrip tricycle fare is Php700 for two. Entrance is Php40/pax + Php20 for parking fee. Guide fee for the kids, well, we gave them Php300. Balsa ride is 100/pax; and Php10/pax to cross in order to get to the grotto. Cottages for rent starts at Php500, and a go at the zipline costs Php50/pax.

Other Concerns
There is a canteen and other food stalls in the area. There are decent restrooms too.
minalungao national park nueva ecija
The menu at the canteen in Minalungao

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