Minalungao National Park: Hidden Treasure and Enchanting Paradise of Nueva Ecija Travel Guide

Love, like everything else in life, should be a discovery, an adventure, and like most adventures, you don’t know you’re having one until you’re right in the middle of it. -E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

Date: September 17, 2016

Location: Minalungao National Park, Brgy. Minalungao, General Tinio, Nueva Ecija

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Whenever I go to Cabiao, Nueva Ecija, Madj’s hometown, to visit her family and to attend family gathering and special occasions, I never had a chance to stroll and explore the province of Nueva Ecija. Nueva Ecija is the largest province and the biggest rice producer of Central Luzon and the Philippines, thus, often referred to as the “Rice Bowl of the Philippines.” With its large massive land, it offers a variety of vacation spots that one shouldn’t miss. Nueva Ecija’s one of the top spots is the Minalungao National Park.

Minalungao National Park has been part of our bucket list since we’ve seen plenty of good reviews from social media and we’ve heard it from some of our friends and relatives that have been there too. Including this place to the places we wanted to explore is certainly easy for us because of those inviting and cool reviews.

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Giving the fact that, Minalungao is only a 2-hr ride away from Cabiao. We still can hardly find time to explore this wonderful place. But as the old saying goes “Kung ayaw mo, maraming dahilan. Kung gusto mo, maraming paraan.” There are lots of ways that we could possibly get. We just need to give our  full effort and support from each other. And as long as we have it, no matter how impossible it looks, and no matter how far it is, everything is possible. Do you believe that? We can get there. We started it by making a simple plan. That’s how easy and simple it is. From that point, we can now set foot and see the hidden treasure of Nueva Ecija. Yey! I guess, I can also say that this is our first Nueva Ecija Adventure! 

I’m an adventurer, looking for treasure – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

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Before I share to you our Minulangao Adventure, I’d like to give you short introduction about this place.

Minalungao National Park is located in the municipality of General Tinio, Nueva Ecija, Central Luzon. 2-3 hours away from Manila. It has 16-meter high limestone bordering the narrow river of Peñaranda. Aside from its beautiful water, the park has been continuously being developed to attract and accommodate more tourists. The park derived its name from “Mina” and “Lungao”, meaning gold mine in caves. This place offers unique limestone walls, beautiful rock formations, clean and clear green river , and scenic view. The place is surrounded with mountains and it offers a trek to the cave, a zip line, the 1000 steps to the cross and when you feel already tired after so much walking and trekking, the clean river is just waiting for you to take a dip.

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We’re about to start our next adventure. This was a week after our Cavinti Falls (aka Pagsanjan Falls) Adventure. If you haven’t read our Cavinti Falls (aka Pagsanjan Falls) Adventure. Please click the link and check it out. Hope you like it too.

We started our adventure at around 11AM. We rode a bus from Lote, Cabiao going to Gapan. Riding a bus is faster than riding jeepney but it’s more expensive. If you want to have a cheap or budget-friendly ride going to Gapan, jeepney is best for you. Big advantage for us is that we don’t need to travel from Manila straight to Minalungao because like what I stated above Nueva Ecija’s Madj’s hometown. We already had a place to stay overnight.

From Gapan, there are tricycles offering rides going to General Tinio and Minalungao directly. Price range is Php500.00 – Php800.00. Since we’re looking for the cheapest offer and at the same time kindest driver. Who wouldn’t want that right? We took time to look for the one that would best fit our needs. We asked the drivers individually about their rates. We are haggling down the prices. Always remember that you can haggle with the tricycle drivers. Be sure you’re good at it. Use it. And you will save more money for some important things. Fortunately, after half an hour of looking for the driver, we got one. Yey! Thank you Denmar, name of our tricycle driver from Gapan —> Minalungao —> Gapan. He’s very kind and a good driver. He’s 16-18 years old, I guess. Based from our experience, We learned that it’s better to negotiate and haggle with young drivers than the old drivers because they can easily agree with you with the price.

Aside from my friends and relatives who gave their feedback about their Minalungao Adventure, I also would like to give thanks for the helpful blogs we’ve read:

  1. Pinoy Adventurista
  2. Broke Travellers
  3. Kirk Anatomy

We bought snacks and lunch before we rode on the tricycle that we rented. I’ve read  from one of the blogs stated above that it would be better to have our lunch or snacks ready and packed before going to Minalungao. So we could lessen the expenses. Good idea! This might be helpful for you too.

Our road trip is quite good and enjoyable. Fortunately, the roads were almost concrete and flat. So, there’s no need for you to worry about the roads.

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We’ve seen enormous and plenty of rice fields while we’re on the road.

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We arrived at the National Park at around 1:30PM. We paid entrance fee and parking fee at the registration site. Also, officials will give you tour guide, if you opted to have one. Our tour guides are much more different from all the tour guides we’ve had before. This time, we had two different tour guides both 10 years old. They were the youngest among our guides from our previous adventures.

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Yes. We are almost there. For complete budget and expenses, please see bottom part of this blog post.

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The moment when we arrived the place, we were very excited to capture the beauty of this God’s amazing creation. So we wander around the place and took some cool photos. The place was obviously have its natural and elusive beauty that no one can easily define. The unique limestone, green river and scenic view were obviously the part of this adventure that we appreciate and love the most. Rock formations are fascinating. It just shows how blessed the province of Nueva Ecija is because of the hidden treasure and enchanting paradise they got. We strongly believe that Minalungao National Park deserves to be preserved and protected. The locals should preserve the beauty and cleanliness of this place before it’s too late.

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We strongly believe that Minalungao National Park deserves to be preserved and protected. The locals should preserve the beauty and cleanliness of this place before it’s too late.

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Minalungao Hanging Bridge

We are always fascinated with hanging bridges. That’s the reason why we went right away to the Minalungao Hanging Bridge. This spot is the best spot to see the enchanting paradise of Minalungao.

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It’s time to explore and appreciate Minalungao. This is what we came for. To set foot and see the hidden treasure of Minalungao National Park. Let’s see what we’ve got here.

Exciting Activities

There are fun and exciting activities that you can do in Minalungao National Park. They have bamboo rafting, cliff jumping/diving, hiking and spelunking, swimming, zip lining, 1000 steps to the cross, and caving.

Minalungao Cave

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Entrance of Minalungao Cave. Apology for the blurred picture captured by our guide.

After taking photos with the mesmerizing view of Minalungao National Park, we headed directly to explore and see the Minalungao Cave. As per the guides, there are two different caves available for the tourists. Balete Cave and Minalungao Cave. If you are into cave adventure and you still  have plenty of time to explore Minalungao, Going inside the Balete Cave is a must for you to explore.

Since Madj and I have only little time available, we opted to go only in Minalungao Cave which only took us 20-30mins to explore. Guides are enthusiastically sharing and flashing their lights on the unique formations of the stalagmites and the stalactites.

Here are few of the things that you can see inside the cave :

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“Kamay”
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“The Rosary”
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Shining rocks
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Small entrance going to the big cave known as “Balete Cave”

Swimming

After exploring the Minalungao Cave, time to take a dip into the clear, calm and refreshing water of Minalungao.  As I stated earlier, we haven’t got a chance to rent any bamboo raft, so we find perfect spot for us to enjoy the swimming. As per the guides, the depth of the river is inconsistent. There are parts where you can enjoy diving and there are also parts where you can only sit and walk. Be sure not to follow the flow of the strong river current. It will definitely lead you where you need to fight for your life. If you want to go swimming on a deeper part of the river, you must have a life vest and a guide near you. Life vests are available for rent near the cottage area. For us, we don’t need it. We will just only stay on the shallowest part of the river while enjoying the view of Minalungao National Park.

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The stones are also one way for you to have a foot massage.
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“Bangkero ng Balsa”

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Our first Nueva Ecija Adventure gave us realization about the wonderful places Nueva Ecija can offer. There are lots of hidden treasures in Nueva Ecija that are ready to discover. Minalungao National Park is definitely part of list. We’re hoping that you will also plan to get here. Just like what we do.

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Thank you Minalungao National Park. Till we meet again. That’s it folks. Till our next adventure.

Few Tips

Best time to visit this place is early morning, aside from you can have a glimpse of the park before it becomes too crowded. You can also have a bigger chance for you to rent a raft and try the activities they offer. Sad to say, we missed the chance of renting a bamboo raft, trekking to the Minalungao Holy cross, and the activity the we definitely like to try, the Zip Lining. But there’s nothing to worry about. At least, we have all the reasons to come back.

Tour Guides

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If you want to go to Minalungao National Park and you are looking for good guides. I highly recommend Rafael and Marlou (both 10 years old, I guess). Please look for their names at the registration office, where you will pay the entrance fee and parking fee. Though they are not yet a professional tour guide because of their very young age, they are both smart and knowledgeable about this place and they can also be your official photographers. In fact, they are fast learners and they both know where to capture picturesque snapshots with the view. They will be very happy to assist and guide you (unless they are unavailable).

Thanks Rafael and Marlou. I can see potential travel photographers and good leaders in you! Till’ we meet again!

Minalungao National Park Day Trip Itinerary:

  • 1100 ETD Lote, Cabiao, Nueva Ecija
  • 1145 ETA Bucana, Gapan, Nueva Ecija
  • 1200 ETD Tricycle Ride from Bucana, Gapan to Minalungao National Park
  • 1330 ETA Minalungao National Park. Appreciate the view
  • 1400 ETA Minalungao Cave
  • 1430 ETD Minalungao Cave. Start Swimming and Appreciate the view
  • 1715 ETD Minalungao National Park, General Tinio, Nueva Ecija
  • 1815 ETD Bucana, Gapan, Nueva Ecija
  • 1900 ETA Lote, Cabiao, Nueva Ecija

Minalungao National Park

Address : Brgy. Minalungao, Gen. Tinio, Nueva Ecija
Entrance Fee : Php 50.00
Parking Fee : Php 30.00
Cottage Rental : Php 200.00
Raft Rental : 500.00/day (8-10 Pax)
Zipline Fee : Php 100.00
Restroom Fee : Php 10.00
Guide Fee: By Donation

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One thought on “Minalungao National Park: Hidden Treasure and Enchanting Paradise of Nueva Ecija Travel Guide

  1. Pingback: Top 10 2016 Highlights (A Year Review) – Are & Madj Adventures

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