Minalungao is like a well kept secret mostly known to the people in Nueva Ecija. It is best reached using a 4x4 wheel drive or a large vehicle. Locals however, have used tricylces but the bumpy and unpaved roads could make the travel a lot longer. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour from the city of Gapan, and one has to consider the muddy road.
Minalungao was declared a national park in 1967. The park has a river which local folks use to transport firewood, coal and other local produce. One can also see local women washing clothes by the river banks, water buffalo swimming in its crystal clear waters or children simply enjoying the cool, flowing water. The deeper portions of the river has about 16 meters of limestone walls on both sides leading to a cave. Locals are easily available to guide any adventurer wishing to enter the cave. One need not worry about locals overcharging any tourist. The local government support also paved the way for the construction of some walkways, make shift bridge and raft to make the place more accessible.
To go to this place, it is best to bring your own provisions. There are no restaurants, no potable water, and definitely best if one brings floatational devices. There are no fees collected as this place is unspoilt - yet. It is also best to travel on a sunny day, for the muddy roads may hamper travel. There are no directions leading to the park, only steep and narrow roads with overgrown vegetation. The limestones leading to the cave is passable but great care should be taken as a single misstep can lead one to the rocky and deep waters of the river. Now, isn't this exciting enough?
And what is even more exciting is the food trip. We discovered really delicious cassava cake (try Don Benito's), fried pugo, fried itik, adobong lama-loob ng pugo and freshly baked mulawin pandesal.
And what makes this trip a special one? It's the added opportunity to bond with friends so bring as many friends as possible. The laughter echoes along the limestones... memories worth your while and worth keeping.