Nueva Vizcaya

By Ruth Santos

A destination snubbed by beach goers, it is an adventurer’s paradise. Dubbed as the citrus capital of the Philippines, Nueva Vizcaya is brimming with hidden gems and wonders to captivate outdoor and nature enthusiasts.

Nueva Vizcaya is a landlocked province located in Cagayan Valley region in Central Luzon.  It is bordered by Quirino to the east,  Benguet to the west,  Ifugao to the north,  Isabela to the northeast,  Aurora to the southeast, Nueva Ecija to the south, and Pangasinan to the southwest. It is composed of 15 towns namely: Alfonso Castañeda, Ambaguio, Aritao, Bagabag, Bambang, Bayombong, Diadi, Dupax del Norte,

Dupax del Sur, Kayapa, Kasibu, Quezon, Santa Fe, Solano, and Villaverde.  Surrounded by three mountain ranges: Sierra Madre, Cordillera, and Caraballo Mountains, Nueva Vizcaya is ripe with sites ready for exploration.

Things to do in Nueva Vizcaya

Spelunking in Capisaan Cave

Explore the Capisaan Cave System, a 4.2 Kilometer long cave in Barangay Capisaan, Kasibu.  It is the fifth-longest cave in the Philippines and its numerous breathtaking formations have awed both new and professional cave aficionados.

Eight caves make up the entire cave system: Alayan 1 and 2; Gaia/Malukbo 1 and 2; Lion; Sang-at Salug (ascend, descend); Heaven; and Sabrina.  Heaven and Sabina are used for scientific study and are closed to the public. Each cave is connected to each other through narrow passages which are sometimes water-logged, slippery, or low-ceilinged, allowing no room for fear of the dark or cramped spaces.  The trek takes at least 4 hours or longer for the shutter bugs.  But the various sizes of rare calcite formations, pristine stalactites and stalagmites challenge and capture the imagination, and make one indifferent to time.  Also present in the caves are the diverse flora and fauna, as well as some animal species like the rare Tarictic Hornbill, Philippine macaque, Philippine creeper, and cloud rat.

Capisaan Cave System is also known as the Lion-Alayan Cave since its two main entry and exit points are the Lion and Alayan Caves.

Nueva-Vizcaya-1oWaterfalls Trekking

Nueva Vizcaya is home to numerous waterfalls.  The  Imugan Falls, Dumli-ing Falls, Mapalyao Falls and Señora Falls are four of the more popular and well-known ones.

Photo from  nuevavizcaya.gov.ph

Imugan Falls

Imugan Falls can be found in Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya. Brgy. Imugan is a one-hour jeepney ride from the Municipality of Sta. Fe, and from there, nearly a 1-kilometer scenic hike to reach the Thirty five (35) feet spring water falls.  Crystal clear waters fall into a shallow basin-like pool and overflows all the way through the Imugan River.  The trek is dotted with views of the hanging bridge, boulder-strewn stream, trees with wild orchids, giant ferns, stems of tiger grass, and other diverse species of flora and fauna.  Surrounded by natural beauty, pristine setting, and fresh air, with the chirping of the bird the only break in the quiet surroundings, the 30 minutes hike relaxes and calms. Mist surrounds the place during cold days making you think of an enchanted paradise filled with fairies.

Photo from www.cagayanvalleyregion.com

Nueva-Vizcaya-2aDumli-ing Falls

Located in Brgy. Balete, Kayapa, Dumli-ing Falls is the highest waterfalls in Nueva Vizcaya and is among the top ten highest falls in the Philippines.  Its elevation used to be 120 meters according to previous official surveys.  But due to years of erosion and falling rocks which filled its basin, its current height is approximately 98 meters. The hike to the waterfall takes 30 minutes to 1 hour from the Barangay Hall where you have to register.  The site is not yet developed for swimming and picnicking but is best for sightseeing and being one with nature.

Photo by Maan Villamor

Mapalyao Falls

Found at Brgy. Buliwao, Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya, Mapalyao Falls is another breathtaking waterfall. It is a seven-foot high waterfall that is a favorite picnic destination since it is easily accessible to 4-wheel cars. Passing through a hanging bridge to get to the waterfall adds to the experience

Photo from  nuevavizcaya.gov.ph

Señora Falls

Located within the 500-hectare area managed by Señora Victoria Hotel.   The waterfall is made up of 7 tiers, of which the top is called the Mother Falls. It would take 1.5 hours to trek to the top which is quite big with gorgeous view of the below tiers.  Even though stone stairs were built towards the falls so visitors can safely cross, sit and dip their feet and legs, the area remains lovely, peaceful, and unspoiled.

Photo by Brian Donaldson

Nueva-Vizcaya-1hClimb Mt. Ugu and Mt. Palali

Mt. Ugu is a famous destination for mountaineers. It is a 2,086-meter high mountain located in the southern portion of the Cordillera.  Volunteer mountaineers discovered it accidentally during a rescue operation when a plane crashed on its slopes in 1987.

Mount Palali is a 1,705 meters above sea level-high Mountain and is bounded by the municipalities of Quezon and Bayombong. The climb takes several hours with the half way point marked by a landmark known as Haring Bato. The midpoint offers a breath-taking view of the low-lying municipalities of Nueva Vizcaya. The view upon reaching the top may not be as clear because of the presence of the trees.

Photo from nuevavizcaya.gov.ph

Get in touch with history in Dalton Pass, Kirang Pass, and Salacsac Pass

Dalton Pass

Dalton Pass, also called Balete Pass, is a historical landmark since it is the scene of violent and bloody fighting during the final phase of World War II.  Almost 17,000 Japanese, American, and Filipino soldiers died on the pass. Commemorative markers stand by the road’s highest point, and the Dalton Pass National Shrine gives tribute to General Dalton’s death by a sniper’s bullet.

Kirang Pass

Kirang Pass holds a monument to the bravery and courage of the Filipino and Japanese soldiers during WWII.  Located in Barangay Kirang, Aritao, it was originally built in 1978 by the Rakunsankai Society of Japan, and was rebuilt using a black glazed stone tablet with a memorial engraved in Japanese and English.

Photo by Ramon F. Velasquez

Salacsac Pass

Salacsac Pass is the site of a major war between the American and Japanese during World War II.  Found in the ridges of Malico, it is said that 4,600 Japanese soldiers and 3,200 American Soldiers and Filipino civilians died between February and June 1945 on the pass. A monument stands on the highest ridge to commemorate the soldiers who died.

Photo by Kelly Austria

Visit historical churches

Nueva-Vizcaya-1dDupax Del Sur Church

The San Vicente de Ferrer Church, also known as Dupax Del Sur Church, is one of the oldest brick churches in the Cagayan Valley. Built in the 18th century, it has been declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines. The church has a Baroque architectural structure including the wooden floor, columns and lattices as well as an impressive four-storey bell tower made up of red bricks. The church also has a museum that displays well-preserved Spanish monuments and centuries-old church artifacts. Standing just beside the church is the “Oldest Acacia Tree in Luzon”.

Photo by Elvira A. Tankiamco

St. Dominic Cathedral

St. Dominic Cathedral (formerly St. Augustine Church) is a 17th century church found on the town square of Bayombong.  The crimson brick walls and octagonal bell tower gives it a gorgeous façade which photographers love to capture.  It is believed that the first mass in the region was celebrated here by Fray Pedro Freiri on 12 April 1739.

Photo by Ramon F. Velasquez

Feast on Citrus fruits

Nueva Vizcaya has not been dubbed Citrus Capital of the Philippines on a whim.  Its weather and fertile land is a haven for growing a variety of citrus fruits such as oranges, honey dew, sweet ponkan, yacon, red chandler pomelo, and seedless Satsuma.  A visit here wouldn’t be complete without sampling the citrus and taking home a bag.

How to get there:

By Land using Public Transport

To reach Nueva Vizcaya from Manila, get aboard one of the numerous air-conditioned buses (Victory Liner, Baliwag Transit, and Florida Bus) bound for Tugeugarao in Cagayan province and alight in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya. Travel time is approximately 5-6 hours.

To reach Nueva Vizcaya from other parts of Cagayan Valley, you can either ride a bus going to Manila and alight in Bayombong, or  ride Public Vans (PUV) that are bound for Solano/Bayombong/Aritao/Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya.

By Land using Private Vehicles

On North Luzon Express Way (NLEX), take Sta. Rita Exit then follow the route that will lead to Pulilan, Plaridel, Baliuag, San Ildefonso, and San Miguel, Gapan, San Leonardo, Sta. Rosa, Cabanatuan City, Talavera, Muñoz, San Jose then Sta. Fe town, Nueva Vizcaya.

Those on motorcycles or those wanting to avoid the toll fees on NLEX can opt to use the MacArthur Highway passing through Caloocan, Valenzuela, Meycauayan, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas, Guiguinto (Tabang), Plaridel, Pulilan, Baliuag, San Rafael, San Ildefonso, San Miguel, Gapan, San Leonardo, Sta. Rosa, Cabanatuan City, Talavera, Muñoz, San Jose City before reaching the boundary arch of Sta. Fe town, Nueva Vizcaya.

Via Air

Cebu Pacific flies 3x/week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) bound for Cauayan City, Isabela. Once you arrived at Cauayan Airport, ride a tricycle going to the National highway and get on board one of the public buses going to Manila.  Alight in Solano/Bayombong/Aritao/Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya.

To visit the tourist destinations, you need to hire a jeepney from the town proper of Bayombong.

Nueva-Vizcaya-1aWhere to stay:

  • Kalahan Dormitory – Imugan
  • Recreation center of sir Harold Rice – Imugan
  • 24/7 Inn and Resort – Bayombong-Solano boundary
  • Paraiso Tribu Vizcayano – Bayombong
  • Sports City Hotel -Bayombong
  • Saber Inn – Bayombong
  • Josefina’s Hotel – Bayombong
  • MC Capitol View Inn and Restaurant – Bayombong
  • Bambang Lodge – Bambang Poblacion
  • Bambang Pension House – Bambang Poblacion
  • Juel Garden Hotel – Bambang
  • Melissa Lodge – Solano
  • Highlander Hotel and Resort – Solano
  • Governors Garden Hotel – Solano
  • Neptune Hotel – Solano
  • Dream Garden Hotel – Solano
  • Elnora Zulaek’s Rainbow Hotel Serviced Apartments – Solano
  • Governor’s Hotel – Solano
  • My Dream Garden Hotel – Solano
  • Neptune Hotel – Solano
  • Rafael Inn – Solano
  • Señora Victoria Hotel – Bayombong

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