Kasibu: Caving in Capisaan Caves (Alayan to Lion)

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Capisaan Caves

The day was about to end when we arrived in Kasibu, almost three-hour ride from the town of Bambang. But as the sun set behind Caraballo Mountains, our day in town was just about to start. We would be spelunking through and through the fifth longest cave system in the Philippines – the Capisaan Cave System.

Capisaan Caves
After weighing our options, we ended up spelunking in Kasibu.

It was actually an unplanned trip, everything was spontaneous – the two-day holiday courtesy of APEC Economic Leader’s meeting, the destination and even the entire itinerary. We just found ourselves in queue of the bus bound for Cagayan the night before and after almost six hours of land travel, we were awaken by the bus conductor as we reached Santa Fe, Nueva Vizcaya. We were aiming to see Imugan Falls and whatever goes afterwards, more waterfalls perhaps. There are said to be more waterfalls in the towns of Quezon and Alfonso Castañeda but to get there means we need to be in Bambang.

The idea of going to Kasibu popped out a couple of times but was not seriously taken. As we arrived in the busy downtown of Bambang after our visit to Imugan Falls, we were still unsure of where to go next. Over lunch, we weighed our options.

Capisaan Caves
Capisaan Caves, the fifth longest cave system in the Philippines.

A trip to Alfonso Castañeda would consume our time as it requires two transfers and the travel time would take at least three hours, add the time to trek to the waterfalls and it would probably be dark by then. Meanwhile, it would take a little over two hours to go to Kasibu but the main itinerary would be spelunking so it wouldn’t matter if it is already dark when we arrive.

We were sold to our second option.

Capisaan Caves
The stretch from Alayan to Lion Cave is at 4.2 kilometers and can be navigated in at least three hours.

So we walked to where the passenger jeepneys to Kasibu are stationed and by all luck, the last trip leaving at noon was still there, waiting to be filled up. Aside from locals, there were two other groups that were noticeably tourists, one group was on the roof of the jeep. Unlike us, they all looked well prepared for the activity. They were wearing leggings, trekking shoes, day packs and carrying bags of foods and goods. Us, on the other hand, were on board shorts, shirts, sleepers and backpacks. We decided to buy some foods and goods at a nearby grocery while waiting for our departure, it would make us appear somehow prepared.

Kasibu
A view of the rice terraces of Kongkong during the scenic ride from Bambang to Kasibu

The jeepney departed past 1PM and traversed the scenic road to the highland of Caraballo. We were in awe with the beauty of the mountains and the rice terraces of Antutot, Kongkong and other villages. After almost three hours, we finally reached Capisaan.


The day was about to end when we arrived in our destination. But as the sun set behind Caraballo Mountains, our day in town was just about to start. We would be spelunking through and through the fifth longest cave system in the Philippines – the Capisaan Cave System.

Kasibu
Just when the day was about to end, our day in Kasibu was just about to start.

Nested in Malabung Valley in the highland town of Kasibu, Capisaan Caves is known to be the fifth longest cave system in the Philippines at 4.2 kilometers. With numerous chambers, halls and formations, the system is made up of eight interconnected caves – Alayan 1 and 2, Gaia/Malukbo 1 and 2, Lion, Sang-at Salug, Heaven and Sabrina. Of these eight, Alayan to Lion is the easily accessible and the usual tourist route. Meanwhile, Heaven and Sabrina are currently closed to tourists for preservation and scientific studies.

Capisaan Caves
 The stretch from ALayan to Lion Cave is non-techincal

We went first to Capisaan Caves Office to arrange our activity and our homestay. Guides and homestay are systematically organized and scheduled by the office so that every guide and participating household will have fair opportunities and chances. Spelunking fee is P250 per person for a group of five and since we were only three, we asked the other group to join us to save on cost. Helmet and lamp rental is P20 per person.

Capisaan Caves
A leisurely walk at hall in Alayan Cave

After all the necessary arrangements, we were led to our homestay where we left our stuff. We brought only what we deemed were necessary, cameras particularly.

A single motorcycle brought us to the entrance of Alayan Cave where our guide conducted a short briefing. Armed with headlamps and our great desire to see the wonders of Capisaan, we then ventured into the dark cave system. Time stamp was half past the hour of six in the evening and for three hours we were awed by the grand beauty of the underworld. Chamber after chamber and hall after hall, our eyes feasted on countless stalactites, stalagmites, columns and rock formations while our minds playfully flirted with naughty thoughts.

Capisaan Caves
Some formations inside the cave

The stretch from Alayan to Lion Cave is generally easy and non-technical. The hardest part of our adventure, I guess, was when we submerged to a chest-deep cold water. So any non-claustrophobic person with reasonable amount of fitness can make it.

It was almost ten in the evening when we were back at the Capisaan Caves Office to end our underworld journey. Back at our homestay, our kind host prepared a sumptuous dinner for us.

Capisaan Caves
Near the threshold to Lion Cave

It was quite a day, full of adventures and surprises that we didn’t expect. It only proves that some great adventures are those that are unplanned, those that have no itinerary, those when you just let the world surprise you.

Thank you Capisaan Caves for that awesome surprise.

Capisaan Caves
Unforgettable caving experience!

Spelunking Rate in Capisaan Caves:
Spelunking Fee – P250/person (for a group of five)
Lamp and helmet rental – P20

How to Go to Capisaan Caves Systems:
To get here, there are jeepneys from Bambang that go straight to Capisaan. Last departure is around 12NN to 1PM, travel time is at least 2.5 hours and fare is P100 per person. Alternatively, there are also jeepneys from Solano with last departure at around 2PM.

Where to Stay in Kasibu:
Accommodation in Kasibu is only homestay at P200 per person per night. The Capisaan Caves Office will help you arrange your accommodation when you get there as the homestays are on rotational basis to give equal opportunity to participating households.

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