More than just the Rice Bowl of the country, Nueva Ecija is also home to one of the famous natural attractions that can be found in the vast plains of the Central Luzon. Minalungao National Park is located at Barangay Minalungao, tucked away in the Sierra Madre mountains of the municipality of General Tinio, Nueva Ecija.
Right after our Dingalan day tour, there is no other way but to spend a worthy sidetrip at one of the last natural attractions of Nueva Ecija. Minalungao National Park covers 20.18 square kilometers of land and is accessible via Gapan City. It became a protected area by the year 1967 and has been an ecotourism spot that the province has been known for and was rediscovered recently when the tourism boom came to life. The trip from the city proper took us an hour through rice fields and communities before we reached the place.
It was almost weekend, and yes, the park is packed with a lot of visitors so I suggest not to visit during Fridays to Sundays. Without further ado, we didn’t took a raft nor hired a guide to take us around and we explored it ourselves.
The main highlight of the park is the 16 meter high limestone walls that is seperated by the ever flowing emerald waters of the narrow Peñaranda River fed by the Sierra Madre mountain range. Truly, magnificent beauty will always be bound by the raw and natural manifestations of nature.
Bamboo rafts that also serves as picnic huts are all around the river, what a way to spend the weekend than by swimming on cool waters then followed by fun meals with the family. You can rent them and also you can hire guides to tour you around. One can visit the park by foot, since cemented steps beside the river are made by the local government making it safe even for kids and the elderly.
Somewhere near the end of the towering walls lies a huge limestone boulder that sits at the center of the river. Locals call it the Prinsesa and this is a good place where you can jump down the river
After spending an hour by the river banks, one can also visit the cave that lies beneath the footholds of the limetone walls where stalactites and stalagmites can be found. Another fun activity that you can add on your visit here is to try the zip line that crosses through the river.
There is no denying that the park has been and will always be popular to the current generations, but ecotourism goals has not been met by the government. A hotel is being built by the side of the limestone walls, becoming an eyesore to the raw beauty of the river, on the other side of the bank is a big gazebo that serves as the restaurant. Also the cemented paths that were laid for the safety of the park visitors added up to the already diminished rawness of the park. Let us help the park by becoming responsible travelers and visitors, observe park rules and regulations, and leave it as you have found it, if not, even better. Hoping the coming generations will still be able to get a glimpse of the magnificent Minalungao National Park.
We left by 5:30 pm after washing up.
We had a hard time leaving due to heavy rains, and also caused our van to get stuck on the muddy parts of the road. Arrived by 9:00 pm at Manila.
Budget and Itinerary
Dingalan, Aurora + Minalungao National Park Day Trip
2300 – Meet-up at Farmers Plaza, Cubao
0000 – Van bound to Dingalan, Aurora
0430 – Arrival at Dingalan Feeder Port.
0530 – Take Boat to Lamao Caves
0600 – Arrival at Lamao Caves
0630 – Depart for Nanay’s Cottages
0800 – Start trek going to lighthouse
0820 – Arrival at lighthouse
1000 – Back at Cottages, rest
1100 – Take boat back to Feeder Port
1130 – Arrival at Feeder Port
1200 – Dingalan Town Proper, Lunch
1220 – Depart for General Tinio, Nueva Ecija
1230 – Tanawan View Deck
1445 – Arrival at Minalungao National Park
1730 – Depart for Manila
2100 – ETA on Manila
Safe Budget: 1500php/pax – 2000php/pax
● From Manila, you can take Gapan/Cabanatuan bound buses (ES Transport, Five Star) and drop off at Bucana, Gapan City, Nueva Ecija. Fare ranges from 150php-200php, travel time is 2-3hrs
● Upon arrival at Gapan, ask the locals where the General Tinio bound jeepneys are, and wait for it to fill up before departure. Fare ranges from 20-40php. Then from General Tinio, hire a tricycle to take you to the park for 50php/trip
– Another alternative is to hire tricycles from Gapan to take you directly to Minalungao Park, price ranges from 400-600php/roundtrip, depends on your haggling skills
● Entrance fee at the park is 30php and another 50php for the parking fee of vehicles.
● Other fees, as of writing (July 2016) are as follows:
Minalungao Cave – 20php/pax
Cottage – 200php
Bamboo Raft Small – 300php
Bamboo Raft Big – 700php
Comfort Room – 20php
Parking Fee – 50php
● It is ideal to visit during weekdays since this is a go-too place by families during the weekends
● The river conditions is based on the weather, keep in mind it is not advisable to swim during La Niña seasons to avoid sudden flashfloods and other unfortunate events
● Stores, souvenirs, restaurants have flocked the place
● Observe LNT Principles at all times
An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.
Go, Carve That Niche,