Tired of the beach and would like to try a different type of body water to bathe this summer season? Why not check Minalungao National Park in Nueva Ecija.
Tucked in a remote district of General Tinio or commonly known as Papaya in Nueva Ecija, this area is under the protective care of the local government since 1967. Entrance fee is P20 per head and parking fee is P50 per vehicle. There are cottages for rent at P200 but you can enjoy cruising on a raft or floating cottages for P500-P1,500.
Picture yourself taking a dip in a charming, calm and radiant river while enjoying the view of unique rock formations on both sides. Imagine listening to the birds hums echoing the area while inhaling the fresh water scent, giving you that peaceful sensation. You’ll experience it all here.
And if you’re an adventure seeker, there are several activities that may satisfy your passion. A cave that you can easily explore, limestone where you can trek, cliff diving on a large rock at the center of the river and a huge cross on top of the mountain where you can offer a prayer by walking less than a thousand steps. You need not worry of “how to” and “where to” because there are local guides who are willing to assist you, just don’t forget to give something in return.
Commuting from Manila is quite easy, ride buses bound for Cabanatuan (except the one plying the route of SCTEX) and hop off Bucana in Gapan Nueva Ecija (landmark is the Gapan rotunda). From there, ride a tricycle to Minalungao National Park. Bus fare is 150 from Cubao while tricycle fare ranges from 500-700 maximum of 5 passengers. Bringing your own car is quite difficult as there are limited signages going to the place in addition to the long, winding and mostly rough road.
For our trip, I and my travel hubby rode the bus from Cubao bound for Cabanatuan, and hop off Bucana Gapan where my colleagues who came from Pampanga were waiting for us. From the Rotunda, turn right and straight ahead until you reach Papaya Public Market (you can have your last-minute shop here since there are limited stores in Minalungao). From the market, drive straight ahead until you see an Ukay-ukay store to your right (please be cautious because the stall is quite small and not easily recognized). Turn right then straight ahead until you reach the park (here is where most of the road is not yet paved). If lost, you can always ask for the directions from the locals.
There is an ongoing improvement inside the park and the local government has started its effort to promote the place as one of the top tourist destination in Nueva Ecija. Even if with the development, I just hope that they will still preserve the purity and stillness of another God’s wonderful masterpiece.