Nueva Ecija is a surrounded by land province in Central Luzon. With its immense flatlands, Nueva Ecija is the major producer of rice in the region, which is the reason behind the nickname Ricebowl of the Philippines. It is expected that utmost Filipinos, even the Nueva-Ecijanos themselves, ponder that there is nothing extra to perceive in the province than rice fields and more rice fields.
More than rice fields, there is more to see in Nueva Ecija.
Situated far beyond the rural area of Nueva Ecija, near to the bottoms of the Sierra Madre Mountain range, is a little tourist spot known as Minalungao in the town of Papaya (officially named Municipality of General Tinio). The whole area has been called Minalungao National Park and features the vibrant emerald waters of the Peñaranda River.
Minalungao National Park is a popular tourist spot within Central Luzon, especially in Nueva Ecija. It is around 116 kilometers north-east of Metro Manila. It is not so far from National Capital Region and its exceptional landscape became a haven for tourists who wants to experience and enjoy the stunning beauty of its nature. It is a three to four hours’ drive from Manila and it is a cheap destination for a summer getaway.
Minalungao National Park is a protected area located in the province of Nueva Ecija, Philippines. The Park is known for its limestone cliffs and crystal-clear waters of the Peñaranda River, which runs through the center of the park.
Its crystal blue-green water during the summer months is suitable for swimming, rafting, river cruise, and other soft-water adventure. It has an enchanting sixteen (16) meter high marble rock formation which serves as the wall traverse by the Sumacbao River. Travelers can experience serene river cruising with locally made bamboo raft while enjoying the nature sing with flying creations thru bird watching and at the same time, witness the marvelous scene of wildlife’s everyday way of life by spotting Philippine macaque nurturing themselves with the area’s richly abundant buffet of resources at the top of the rocky mountain.
Discover the Beauty of Peñaranda River
One of the main attractions of Minalungao National Park is the Peñaranda River, which is home to a variety of fish and other aquatic life. Visitors can take a dip in the cool waters of the river or go for a swim in one of the many natural pools found within the park. The river also offers a great spot for rafting and kayaking, providing an exciting and unique way to explore the park.
Another major attraction of Minalungao National Park is the limestone cliffs that line the river. The cliffs are a popular spot for rock climbing and rappelling, offering a challenging and exhilarating experience for visitors. The cliffs also provide a beautiful backdrop for the park, making it a popular spot for photography.
Minalungao National Park Ecotourism Experience.
Minalungao National Park is also a hidden gem for those seeking a unique ecotourism experience. The park offers a picturesque landscape of towering limestone cliffs, lush greenery, and a serene river that runs through the heart of the park. The park is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
The park is also home to a wide variety of plant life, including the endangered Philippine teak, which is found only in a few select areas in the Philippines.
The Park also offers a variety of other activities such as hiking and bird watching. There are several well-maintained trails within the park that lead to scenic viewpoints and other natural features. Visitors can also take in the diverse array of bird species that call the park home.
Minalungao National Park is also a great place for picnics and family outings. The park has picnic areas and cottages that can be rented for day use. Visitors can also enjoy a delicious meal at the park’s restaurant, which serves local and international dishes.
Giant Stairway of Minalungao National Park
Another unique feature of Minalungao National Park is the presence of the “Giant Stairway” or “Hanging Bridge” which is made of bamboo and serves as a walkway for visitors to pass through the limestone cliffs. The bridge gives a panoramic view of the cliffs and the river below.
Minalungao National Park is a perfect destination for those looking for a unique ecotourism experience. The park’s natural beauty and wide range of outdoor activities make it an ideal spot for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. The park’s focus on environmental conservation and sustainable tourism practices ensures that visitors can enjoy the park’s beauty while also protecting its ecosystems for future generations.
Minalungao National Park is also home to a number of local communities who depend on the park’s resources for their livelihoods. The Park works with these communities to promote sustainable tourism and conservation efforts.
It’s another strength is that the other natural attractions in Nueva Ecija like Gabaldon Falls is far from Minalungao National Park so, it’s the only natural attraction that the travelers can visit within the area.
Tourism Attractions and Facilities
Minalungao National Park is known for its sparkling flowing river, gigantic rock formations, and unsoiled and serene environment. One of the most unique features of the park is the high limestone walls on both sides leading to a cave.
The place features a breathtaking view. The cave located at the foot of Minalungao Hill’s rock formation is composed of limestones and marbles which are dotted with tiny and shallow holes, evidence of dissolving reaction from the nonstop dripping of rain water during rainy season.
Cottages for picnics are available. There are also mini stores where you could buy nibbles, refreshments and souvenir items. Restroom is available in the main hall near entrance.
The activities that can be enjoyed in Minalungao are:
- Sightseeing – One of the main attractions of Minalungao National Park is the crystal-clear waters of the Penaranda River. The picturesque views of the natural setting of limestone rock formations along the river are fascinating to anyone who will see it.
- Swimming – The far end of the river where the water is shallow is perfect for swimming, enjoy the clean water and savor the lush verdant environment. Visitors can take a dip in the cool waters or go on a leisurely float downstream while taking in the beautiful scenery of the surrounding cliffs.
- Hiking – Minalungao National Park is a popular destination for hiking and outdoor activities in the Philippines. One of the main attractions of the park is the “Giant’s Ladder,” a steep trail that leads to the top of the limestone cliffs. The hike to the top offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and is a popular spot for rock climbing and rappelling. Another popular trail in the park is the “Peñaranda River Trail,” which follows the river and offers visitors the chance to swim in the cool, clear waters.
- Raft riding – Your experience here won’t be complete without the bamboo rafting experience. You may enjoy boodle fight and feast while on the bamboo raft.
- Spelunking – also known as cave exploration, is a thrilling and adventurous way to explore Minalungao. Bringing a flashlight is a must as the cave is so dark, hiring a local guide and wearing comfortable clothes before doing spelunking is also recommended. You also need to be careful with your steps because even though the cave is not that long, it can be challenging, especially for beginners.
- Cliff diving – Climbing up its rock formations and cliffs then jumping into the clean waters of Minalungao river is indeed a thrilling experience you should consider doing here.
- Zipline – last summer of 2015, the park opened a new activity which is the zip line. It crosses the river, from the entrance of the park to the entrance to the 1000 steps to the cross. It costs 50 pesos per ride during that time. But now it costs 100 pesos.
- Trekking – The hanging bridge and the 1000-step stairway towards a large holy cross marker situated at the top of the hill is one of the most advertised activities here. The spectacular view of the whole municipality, the breathtaking view of the Sierra Madre Mountain range, other mountains in Nueva Ecija, and attractive lowlands can be seen at the top of the thousand steps to the cross.
How to Go to Minalungao National Park by Commuting
From Cubao, Quezon City Bus station, there is a Baliwag bus trip directly to General Tinio, Nueva Ecija every 3PM. Ask the conductor/ driver about the “Papaya” trip. The usual travel time is about 4 hours. The bus will stop at Barangay Concepcion, General Tinio. The bus fare is around 200. From there, you can ride a tricycle to Minalungao. You can be there within 15-20 minutes and the fare can be negotiated for around 150 pesos.
Another option if you can’t travel on 3PM would be you can either ride a Five-star or Baliwag bus going to Gapan, Nueva Ecija. Tell the bus conductor to drop you off at Bukana, Gapan. The approximate travel time is 3 hours in usual traffic conditions. The bus fare is more or less 250 pesos.
From Bukana, Gapan, talk with a tricycle driver and ask them if they know how to go to Minalungao National Park (most of them do). The approximate travel time is around thirty minutes and the fare is around 300 pesos, be sure to be aware of the travel fare because some of the drivers will charge you more if they know that you are a tourist.
How to Go to Minalungao National Park by Driving
You can pin Minalungao National Park in Waze or Google Maps.
You can always ask the locals for the route going to Minalungao as you may be confused with the roads going to this destination. I would suggest you to travel at dawn around 3-4AM when it is possible for you to arrive within 3 hours. Please be reminded that in Bulacan and Gapan City, there is always heavy traffic during rush hours.
Where to stay in General Tinio, Nueva Ecija?
There is a clean and tidy transient house for rent in Barangay Pulong Matong. To book, contact Ma’am Emily Dalangin on 09227465520 or 09065820453.
There are also resorts which you can accommodate you for the rest of your stay. PMP Man-Made Resort, Palas na Tuod, Simvy’s Resort, Gubat Resort and the nearest to Minalungao National Park, the EJJ Resort and Event Center, to name a few.
Minalungao is open daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM and the entrance fee is P20.00 for students and P50.00 for adults.
It’s important to note that the park has a relatively low level of infrastructure so it’s recommended to bring your own water, food and camping gear. Also, proper footwear and clothing is recommended for the hike, especially if you plan to climb the Giant’s Ladder.
With the suitable maintenance, development and management, the Minalungao National Park will be able to contend with other eco-tourism spots in Luzon and possibly all over the country. It is not impossible especially now that Minalungao is fully accessible to visitors.
Concreting of the local road connecting the downtown area of Papaya to the park is already 100% complete. Amenities such as huts and boats are already in place. Eventually, it is the Minalungao’s local community who will profit from the source of revenue that is created by this development.
In conclusion, Minalungao National Park is a beautiful and diverse natural area that offers visitors a wide range of activities and experiences. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful swim in the river, an adrenaline-pumping adventure on the cliffs, or a chance to explore the local flora and fauna, Minalungao has something to offer. It’s a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers.