Quirino may be considered one of the Philippines’ most underappreciated provinces. Situated in northern Luzon, this landlocked region boasts a captivating landscape characterized by picturesque mountain ranges and rolling terrain, offering a plethora of thrilling outdoor activities such as cave exploration, trekking, waterfall discovery, river rafting, and even cliff diving.
To learn more about Quirino, refer to this comprehensive travel guide.
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How to Get to Quirino
Traveling by land is the typical choice for reaching Quirino, but there are also flight options from Manila to either Cauayan in Isabela, the nearest airport to Quirino, or Tuguegarao airport. Upon arrival at either airport, you can catch a van to Cabarroguis, Quirino.
By Land Travel
You can find regular bus services departing from Manila, often with nighttime departures, which usually take approximately 8 hours to reach Quirino.
The Five Star bus company in Cubao, Quezon City, operates buses heading to Maddela, Cabbaroguis, and Diffun in Quirino. Another alternative is the GV Florida bus company departing from Sampaloc, Manila, with buses bound for Maddela.
Do-It-Yourself or Join a Tour
If embarking on a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) journey to Quirino seems daunting, there’s an alternative option to consider: joining a tour organized by various event planners and tour operators. While public transportation is available within Quirino, navigating from one place to another can be somewhat challenging. If you don’t have access to your own car or motorcycle, participating in an organized tour is a recommended choice, as we did.
As a solo traveler, I opted to join Gala PH, a tour provider offering regular trips to Quirino. They have a well-structured 2-day itinerary that includes visits to some of the province’s renowned attractions such as Landingan Viewpoint, the Governor’s rapid, Aglipay Cave, Ganano Falls, and many more.
How the Itinerary Goes
The proposed itinerary is ideal for individuals seeking a weekend escape following a busy workweek.
Participants typically gather between 8 PM and 9 PM in Metro Manila on a Friday, often at the Greenfield area in Mandaluyong. Depending on the number of participants, the organizer may arrange alternative pick-up locations. After everyone is prepared, the van will depart from Manila before 10 PM, with an estimated travel time of approximately 8 hours to reach the initial destination.
Diffun Chasing Waterfalls and Hiking
We arrived in Diffun, Quirino, just in time for a beautiful sunrise, passing through picturesque green fields and hills.
Our Day 1 agenda consists of a trek to various waterfall spots, commencing from the Baguio Village jump-off point. This area is inhabited by a diverse mix of residents hailing from Benguet and nearby provinces in the Cordillera region, which is how it got its name.
Before embarking on the trek, enjoy a quick breakfast in the village, then head to the registration area in the covered court, where you’ll receive an orientation and be assigned a tour guide.
The trek begins around 7 AM. The trail leads through a bamboo forest, a brief river crossing, a hanging bridge, and lush green forests, with several stations and signs where you can rest.
The highlight of this trek is Ganano Falls, boasting numerous natural pools, boulders, and a stunning backdrop for photos and a refreshing dip. It stands at an estimated 100 feet in height. Our visit was in May, so the water flow might not have been as vigorous, but the place remains incredible and well worth the trek, especially with like-minded nature and adventure enthusiasts.
On the return journey to the jump-off point, you’ll pass by another waterfall known as Sabangaran Falls. This falls features a three-meter-high cascade and shallow waters perfect for swimming. Some tourists choose to spend their day here, swimming and enjoying a potluck meal, grilling, and cooking.
Other waterfall destinations on the itinerary include Sinipit Falls and Nantugaw Falls.The trek and waterfall exploration will occupy a good portion of the day, leaving just enough time for lunch at a pre-selected food hub or restaurant in the town proper.
Side Trip at Quirino Provincial Capitol
We made a brief stopover in Cabarroguis to admire the welcome arch and the Quirino Provincial Capitol before continuing on to our next planned destination. Cabarroguis is the official capital of Quirino province and serves as the primary hub for accommodations, including hotels, as well as hosting some of the province’s finest dining establishments.
Explore the Aglipay Caves
Numerous caves are scattered throughout the province, but Aglipay Cave stands out as the most renowned. Situated in Brgy. Villa Sur within the Municipality of Aglipay, this limestone cave system boasts over 37 chambers, with 8 of them accessible to visitors. It’s a suitable adventure even for beginners, with local tour guides providing assistance for this thrilling exploration.
To conclude the day’s adventures, we traveled to Maddela, where we had dinner and checked into our reserved resort rooms. After freshening up, we settled in for a good night’s rest in preparation for tomorrow’s final itinerary.
River Tubing & Boat Tour at Governor’s Rapids
River tubing and the boat tour at Governor’s Rapids are undeniably some of the most thrilling highlights in Quirino. It is advisable to schedule this activity for the morning to ensure favorable weather conditions.
Governor’s Rapids is a part of the extensive Cagayan River, which happens to be the longest river system in the Philippines. Upon reaching the jump-off point, every visitor undergoes a brief safety orientation. Each boat is assigned a boat captain and tour guide, responsible for providing information and assistance to tourists throughout the river cruise. During the tour, you’ll have the opportunity to witness stunning limestone rock formations, experience a Tarzan swing, indulge in cliff jumping, take a refreshing swim, explore caves, and culminate the adventure with river tubing.
Taste the Famous Pancit Cabagan
When visiting Quirino, indulging in Pancit Cabagan is a delightful treat for both food enthusiasts and hungry travelers. Pancit Cabagan is a stir-fried noodle dish comprising pork, vegetables, lechon kawali, and a hard-boiled egg, all bathed in a soy sauce-based broth. It pairs perfectly with rice, offering a truly satisfying dining experience.
In Nagtipunan, Quirino, you’ll come across MJ Snack and Pancit Cabagan Restaurant, a renowned establishment renowned for its authentic Pancit Cabagan. The restaurant is owned by Jerovie Macapia, who personally crafts the miki or noodles used in Pancit Cabagan, adding an extra layer of authenticity to the dish.
Enjoy the 360 Degree View at Landingan Viewpoint
Landingan Viewpoint stands out as one of Nagtipunan’s, Quirino’s, most renowned tourist attractions. It boasts captivating scenery, with views of the Sierra Madre mountain range, expansive fields, and a winding road.
What makes Landingan Viewpoint particularly intriguing is its unique appearance. It resembles an ancient site, complete with an uphill staircase. Along the path, you’ll encounter vibrant flowers and plants, and at the summit, you’ll be rewarded with an awe-inspiring panoramic vista, creating a perfect spot for tourists to capture picturesque moments.
These are just a few of the enchanting destinations that Quirino has to offer to every visitor. While the province is gradually gaining recognition among travelers, there are still numerous hidden gems scattered throughout different areas of Quirino waiting to be explored.
We are delighted to have had the opportunity to discover what Quirino has in store, and we eagerly anticipate returning to explore more of its breathtaking destinations.