Minalungao National Park

Experiencing nature at Minalungao National Park

Minalungao National Park blew into social media months ago because of its outstanding rock forms and picturesque view. Up close, those white rocks have been weathered and smoothed for millennia that its just got beautiful undulating curves. It reminds me of the Timbaban River in Aklan and Marmol Cliff in Cebu. And I got curious.

It’s rather a long drive to reach Minalungao National Park as our bus motored its way from Fort Magsaysay, passing pastoral landscapes and rolling terrain. When we arrived, there were already several vehicles parked at a narrow stretch of land bordered by the river and standing water. Several rafts at one side were moored, waiting for paying guests.

The river is wider than I expected and the stream of people enjoying the park was not as sizable considering. According to Anna Eugenio, SB secretary, as much as 6000 guests on peak days during summer and 1000 around weekends on other months. As we were walking to the big hut where we were to have lunch, I got a glimpse of the beautiful white rocks at the riverbank.

Minalungao National Park

Minalungao National Park was enacted in 1967 with a land area of 2,018 hectares with much of it forest in the municipality of General Tinio, formerly Papaya. It derived from two words: mina (mine) and lungaw (cave) and literally means place with several channeling caves. Squatters used to float illegally cut logs from the forest along the Sumacbao River, a tibutary to the bigger Penaranda River. Although it’s a popular swimming area, locals caution visitors of the seemingly unpredictable underwater currents along the narrow stretch. Pottery shards, believed to be prehistoric, have been found in some caves.

Enjoying nature

After a sumptuous lunch of traditional Nueva Ecijano, I went down to explore. There’s a cemented footpath to the twin cliffs where you can get a close look at the undulating forms on the rocks. The lower portion of the cliff have been gouged out by the flowing river while trees cling on to the walls. The patterns as well as forms on the cliff and rocks are so interesting!

For better views, the hanging bridge provides a panoramic spread on both sides. It also gives access to the other side of the Sumacbao River. If you follow the foot trail, and a series of steps uphill, you will get to the topmost part with a glass cross overlooking the area. On a clear day, you get a glimpse of Mt. Arayat lording the central plain of Luzon.

Minalungao National Park

Cruising the Sumacbao River is a popular activity at the Minalungao National Park

Minalungao National Park

Visitors enjoying the Sumacbao River

Minalungao National Park

For millennia, the Sumacbao River has smoothened the rocks flanking it, creating beautiful forms

Minalungao National Park

A hanging bridge connecting both sides of the Sumacbao River

Minalungao National Park

Bamboo raft moored at the water smoothened rocks

Minalungao National Park

Vegetation at one side of the river

Minalungao National Park

The popular view of Minalungao National Park’s twin cliffs flanking the Sumacbao River

Minalungao National Park

Steamed river fish (biya) and shrimps (hipon) for lunch

Minalungao National Park

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Bamboo rafting at the river in #Minalungao National Park #nuevaecija

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GETTING THERE: Minalungao National Park is accessed via several points: Fort Magsaysay, Gapan and Nazareth in Generial Tinio. Visitors from Metro Manila usually start in Gapan where tricycles can be hired for P400-P500 for the 14 km distance. Entrance fee at the park: P50, P100 (summer months).

This trip was part of Lakbay Norte 6, made possible by North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB) which promotes travel and destinations in North Luzon.

Minalungao National Park
Sitio Minalungao, Brgy. Pias
Gen. Tinio, Nueva Ecija

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

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