5-Hour Barefoot Trek in Palaui

Originally, our group's itinerary was to stay overnight in Sta.Ana, the jump off point to Palaui Island. But for safety, we decided to stay in Tuguegarao City instead. At 5am the following day, we started our journey to Sta.Ana. Travel time is 4hours.

Palaui Island's location

We arrived in Sta.Ana before 9am. Since we hired a van, we reached our destination faster, not to mention the convenience of having a leg room as well as the space for our bags. Anyway, we headed to the tourism center which is not far away from the wharf. Actually we're a little doubtful because the weather is not fair that day. But the staff gave us a go signal that it's safe to trek. Yes, trek. I've read that this trek could take up to 4hours so I was expecting we could ride a boat that can take us to Cape Engano and other beaches. Unfortunately, due to the notorious waves, we had no choice but to go there on our own feet.

standard rates / Palaui expenses for a group of 6
note: boat rental includes a short boatride to cross the island, and the complete return journey.

And so off we go. The short boat ride to cross the island was already scary (for them). The waves are huge, but I've experienced bigger ones so I think it's still tolerable. We reached the land safely and met our tour guides. Since we're 6, we were assigned two guides. I can really say their tourism is getting organized here. Guides have their official shirts. =)

Turismo Mismo at Palaui
sorry I forgot our tour guide's name. teka tanungin ko si Doni ^_^

Forest Trek
Okay, trek proper na talaga. For the first phase, we walked inside a forest. Refreshing. We realized we're blessed to have a gloomy weather that day, else the sun will burn us alive.

the long trek in Palaui starts here

one of the harder trails.
hindi kami jan sympre ^_^

Sea Shore Trek
The trail lead us to the ocean. It was such a delight to walk inside the forest and now beside the ocean. The waves were really huge, we clearly understood now why we're trekking instead of riding the boat.

with Ivy, Sol, Doni, Peng, and Carla

refreshing walk in the shore

we passed by these rocks

and saw some snakes!

According to our guides, there are lots of snakes in the rocks. But there's nothing to worry as long as we dont touch or go very near them. (opcors!)

Muddy Trail
After a while, our guides lead us inside the forest again. We thought it would be as easy as the 1st one, but no. The muddy trail was very slippery. It almost break our slippers.

at first kinakaya pa iwasan ang putik

the mud made this trail harder

In no time, we made harmony with the mud. Wala ng arte arte.

Carla's mega muddy feet

And so we thought our agony in the muddy trail has ended upon seeing the green fields. Wrong. The agony doubled here. At that point, all of us removed our slippers and started to walk barefooted.

getting close to the green fields

We discovered the trail here was worse. Imagine hanggang tuhod na namin yung nakalubog sa putik. Haha It was still fun, but scary at the same time. Lumubog kasi yung ibang part.

..i see trees are green!

our barefoot trek has started

From time to time, we washed our legs and feet in the semi-clear waters along the way. You have no idea how thankful we are whenever we saw any water spots where we can wash up. Madulas masyado pag puro putik ang paa.

The challenge heightened when the trail became muddy + rocky. Not to mention some small tree branches that bruises our legs and feet.

Doni: kasalanan ni Ivy bakit ako sugatan! LOL

Finally after 3 hours I think, our group decided to have some snacks. Thank you so much Carla for bringing (hoarding) 24 pieces of Golidlock's butter slices. Super pantawid gutom.

butter slices + nutella
ang dudumi namin! haha

You might ask if there were restrooms in the area, opcors wala! Alam na kung saan kami nag-wiwi. ^_^

We continued our journey. We really cant be thankful enough for God has provided us gloomy weather - but it never rained. We reached this spot and upon seeing this, we knew we're somehow near our target destination.

are we there yet?

may energy pa magharot ^_^

Asan na ba talaga? Honestly, naiinip na kami. We've trekked for 4 hours but we havent had a glimpse of the lighthouse or the beach.
A few more minutes, we finally saw it. Malayo pa din pala sya inferness.

..the hills are alive!

and finally, a glimpse of the lighthouse
tuktok ng bundok

Like the former green fields area, this had muddy waters too - only deeper. May bonus pa, mga poopoo ng kalabaw at kambing. Haha We all swore we will take anti-bulate as soon as we go back in Manila. Lahat ng bacteria na-absorb na siguro ng paa namin. =)

The group became more serious on the last phase of the trek. We're almost there.

hingal lever - HIGH

From this spot, we could clearly see the rough ocean on the left side, the green fields on the center, and the calm beach on the right.

rough sea view on the left side

green fields in the middle

and the calm beach on the right side

Amazing, right? Breathtaking view x3!

deadma na kahit haggard! ^_^

We're extremely satisfied to reach the top even before we've seen the lighthouse. Afterall, the lighthouse was not spectacular as it may seem.

..and finally the lighthouse

Doni: eto na yun? 0_o
Me: haha, oo neng. yan na nga!

sorry tinamad ako mag-gather ng info sa lighthouse na yan

Doni and Carla on top of the lighthouse

Now the hardest part of this trek - getting back in Sta.Ana. We're so tired and exhausted. It was an excellent decision to hire a boat in advance. The boatman picked us up in the calm beach. ♥

i love you Carla for lending me your photos again + taking (stolen) shots of me
nabura yung mga pictures from my memory card. sayang. buti pinahiram ako ni carla ng pictures

True enough, this was a humbling and fulfilling adventure for all of us.
It may not be according to what we've planned, but what we experienced was really way better.

Given the chance to do it again, we would still prefer to hike than to ride the boat. The overwhelming experience is actually on the journey itself.

Thank you Lord for giving us the weather that would be perfect for this adventure. Thank you for keeping us safe. Your creations are awesome.
And thank you Sol, Carla, Peng, Doni, and Ivy for joining, I enjoyed your company. Next time ulit! ♥

Callao Cave | Cagayan Valley

darkness, little natural light, and spotlight effect inside Callao Cave

Due to our 9-day company shutdown, I made a spontaneous decision to organize a 3days-2nights trip to Palaui. Together with 5 of my kaladkarin travel buddies, we booked a flight to Tuguegarao for this year-end getaway. Thanks to Cebu Pacific's last minute P188 promo, we got Manila-Tuguegarao roundtrip tickets for only P1,175.

Actually it was really my travel buddy Sol who created our Callao Cave-Palaui itinerary. She knows better, she's born and raised in Cagayan.

Since we're 6 in the group, we decided to hire a van for 2 days. This made our trip very convenient. Okay, so from Tuguegarao airport, we took the van and proceeded to an old restaurant that serves Pancit Batil-Patong, the famous local delicacy in Tuguegarao. batil = mixing ; patung = piled on top

distinct ingredient of Pancit Batil-Patung is the Carabao Beef

Maybe because of the Cara Beef, this tastes different compared to our pancit here. What's more memorable are the Cara Beef Tapa and the Carabao Chicharon! Ang sarap. How I wish I bought a lot of these as pasalubong for my family.

Moving on, we went back to the van and started the 45-minute travel to Callao Cave. The weather was not really fair that day. Nevertheless, it wont be a big factor as we're only going to explore a cave. We arrived in the location and paid the minimal entrance fee. Two kids were assigned to us which will serve as our tour guides.

welcome to Callao Cave

Beside this area is a body of water, they say it is a part of Cagayan river.

a part of Cagayan river

The guides lead us to this 180-step staircase. And before we burn calories, one of the guides volunteered to take our group shot.

Meet my travel buddies: all of them are solo joiners. We just introduced ourselves to each other on the day we arrived in Tuguegarao. =)

Carla, Sol, Ivy, Doni, our guide, me, and Peng
thank you for joining!

After the not-so-challenging 180-step climb, we had a glimpse of Callao Cave. It is made up of seven chambers and formations: the Column, Chapel, Skeleton, Elephant’s Head, Praying Angel, Rocket, Lion’s Head and Dog’s Head Formations.

first glimpse of Callao Cave

Exploring different chambers inside this cave could have been easier only if the flooring is dry. Due to rain showers, we ended up walking in a slippery and muddy cave. At first it was all fun, specially after seeing the Chapel.

dramatic effect of the light made this Chapel more spectacular

according to the guides, some weddings were already held here

To be fair, it was the guides who taught us where to take nice shots.

seek the light - by Doni

We proceeded to the next chamber. The way became more slippery and steep. And because most of the time our slippers got stuck in the thick mud - we ended up walking barefooted.

Carla's feet in the thick mud

Reaching this next chamber is still fun. It was really nice to see the rock formations despite not having enough source of light.

one of the chambers in Callao Cave

rock formations

What's a visit without having a photo op?

thank you Carla for this stolen silhouette shot. i like it!

It got harder as we reached the next chambers. The floor became even more slippery. As for the young guides, well what can we expect - they were just kids and they cant even manage to assist us. They dont even have a flashlight to start with. We struggled by using our cellphones to light the path.

getting out of the cave was another story

Callao Cave is really a spectacular tourist spot but it is best visited in the morning, or as long as there's enough sunlight. Tourism authorities should train their guides (kids or young adults) about the safety of each guest. For sure everyone will agree to pay a little more to have a guide that's well skilled, informed, and ready as well.

Thank goodness all of us got out of the cave unbruised and unharmed.

Originally, we plan to travel to Sta.Ana right after we visited Callao Cave. But Sol advised us it could not be safe to travel anymore. Safety comes first. We all agreed to spend the night in Tuguegarao City instead.

lamp post in Tuguegarao

For the accommodation, Sol recommended Hotel Roma. Room rate is affordable, we got a super spacious a/c room with 8 single beds and it only costs P4,000. This room has 2 shower rooms, tv, fridge, dining area, and veranda. Nice.

Hotel Roma's lobby

big and spacious room Hotel Roma

We ended the night by exchanging crazy stories to each other. Like "Anong mga kalokohan ang ginawa mo nung bata ka pa?" Example - drugs, shoplifting, etc. LOL
That way, we became more at ease with each other. ^_^

how about you, anong kalokohan ang sinubukan mo nung bata ka pa?

○ Thank you Carla and Peng for providing these awesome pictures. Sorry kasi ang tamad ko na magpicture. ^_^

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