Let’s admit, we don’t always need a plan, we just need to decide and just go. And sometimes, an unplanned trip gives us the best memories!
This is supposedly a plain road trip just to get a breather, but became one epic weekend adventure with the fam!
In this new story, we will share with you our recent experience in Minalungao National Park. Make sure to read the whole article so you can plan your trip right away!
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Table of Contents
Minalungao National Park
This ecotourism destination is located at Sitio Minalungao, Brgy. Pias, General Tinio, Nueva Ecija and one of Luzon’s marvelous protected areas. It covers around 2,000 hectares of land area.
Like all other local destinations that slowly re-opening their community for tourism, Minalungao National Park has opened its doors just a week ago.
The Unplanned Road Trip
It was a normal Saturday when the idea popped into my head and decided to go on a road trip. Our family is presently staying in Tarlac and we have a senior mother and three kids.
In this present time, we all know there are limited places to visit especially when you have an elderly family member and young ones. Our original plan is just to drive and eat somewhere along the way. Luckily, we saw this “Tagpuan sa Lumang Gapan” in Nueva Ecija, the so-called “Little Vigan”. And from there, we sought other nearby places and that’s where we get into Minalungao National Park which is timely just reopened in the first week of February. The best thing is, they are accepting senior citizens, kids and even pets but of course with proper social distancing and health safety protocols.
What to Do in Minalungao National Park
Minalungao is capable of hosting facilities for picnics, swimming, spelunking, rafting, cliff diving and many more.
Picnic by the River
Enjoy the scenic and clean waters of the Peñaranda River while feasting on a family home-cooked meal or a local boodle fight set up.
You can either rent a cottage or a balsa. Presently, they only allow snacks and water while riding the balsa so it is recommended to eat your lunch/breakfast while at the cottage and just go over snacks while in the river tour.
Ride a bamboo raft or locally known as “balsa” and go river cruising on this clear and clean Peñaranda River. My family is all in awe of the beautiful natural rock formations and the bluish-green water. This is our first time together experiencing this kind of adventure so everyone’s surprised and happy.
Swimming and Cliff Diving
Don’t miss to experience the natural cold water of the park, but remember to always wear a life vest even if you are a good swimmer. This is a must requirement from the management for all tourists.
The water current at some parts of the river is strong so make sure to always look after your kids and elderly family member.
While you are at it and dare to jump over the cliffs, Minalungao has it all for you! Go on cliff diving to your heart’s content.
Beautiful Natural Rock Formations
One thing is for sure, you’ll be amazed by Minalungao’s natural rock formations!
If you’ve been to Daraitan of Tanay, Rizal or El Nido, Palawan and you were astonished by their stunning karst rock formations, then this is something you can look forward to in Minalungao National Park.
Planning to cross the river the quickest way? Then try their zipline and shout your way over the top.
1,000 Steps to the Cross
Another attraction in Minalungao is their 1,000-step trekking up to the grotto and witness the glass cross on the top. This is a bit of an exercise so prepare to get soaked up in sweat.
The park has also a couple of cave connections. If you want to try spelunking, coordinate with their staff to offer you a guide.
The hanging bridge is made of steel and is used to cross from one side of the river to another. This is also an ideal place to have a better view of the river and its amazing rock formations.
How to Get to Minalungao National Park
By Private Vehicle
Tarlac to Minalungao
The common route going to Nueva Ecija is thru Concepcion, Tarlac.
- Drive and pass thru Concepcion – La Paz Road.
- Continue driving and follow Tarlac – Sta. Rosa Road until your reach Gapan.
- Follow Gapan – Peñaranda Road all the way to Gapan – Fort Magsaysay Road until you reach Pias Barangay Road of General Tinio.
Manila – Tarlac – Minalungao
- From Manila, take NLEX and exit in Concepcion.
- Follow the instructions 1-3 from Tarlac – Minalungao route.
By Public Vehicle
Presently, there is no known public bus companies offering trips from Manila to Nueva Ecija during this pandemic, but the usual transportation are below.
- From Manila, ride a bus going to Cabanatuan.
- Disembark in Gapan City.
- From Gapan, take a jeep going to Papaya or General Tinio (Papaya is the old Municipality name of General Tinio, Nueva Ecija).
- Hire a tricycle to take you to Minalungao National Park.
Fees and Rentals
Environmental Fee – Php50
Entrance Fee – Php200 (Currently senior is at discounted price Php100 and free entrance for kids)
Floating Cottage – Php800 good for 4 hours, life vest included
Life Vest – Php35 (required if going for swimming or balsa ride)
Zipline – Php200
Things to Know
- Observe and practice social distancing
- Always wear your facemask
- Kids and Senior Citizens are allowed
- Pets are allowed
- Bringing of own food is allowed without a corkage fee
- Store and small restaurants available
- Souvenir shops and swimming attire available for sale
- Don’t litter
- Follow your guide’s instructions
- Drone flying is allowed but expect weak signals in some areas. Recommended taking off outside the towering rock formations.
- No requirements are needed (Med Cert, Travel Pass, Negative RT-PCR test, etc.)
- No checkpoint as per our visit on February 14, 2021.
- Enjoy and keep safe!