As a relatively unexplored province in Northern Luzon, Nueva Vizcaya boasts pristine and often sequestered natural attractions, including less frequented trails for those in search of an exhilarating but unintimidating trek.
While most outdoor enthusiasts would rather brave the subterranean river of Capisaan Caves or the popular heights of Mount Pulag, many hikers have also begun attesting to the beauty of Vizcaya’s falls destinations, all tucked away by thick forests and occasional blankets of fog.
Imugan Falls is one such destination, majestically sitting 35 feet tall between two mountains in the western town of Imugan in Sta. Fe. Beginners need not dread hiking under the scorching heat of the sun or overcrowding, as both are low possibilities. For an entrance fee of only P25, the trail opens to about eight kilometers of unpaved road, cool streams, an impressive display of cascades, and charming sayote plantations along the mountainside.
Another half-hour climb indulges with the sight of mountainous terrains and gorgeous rock formations before the grand finale: a waterfall with several tiers, all dropping into a blue green basin that’s perfect for a reinvigorating dip.
How to get there: All buses headed to Tuguegarao City; Santiago City, Isabela; or Banaue stop at Sta. Fe. It is the first town in Region 2 to greet visitors.
Two to three hours northeast of Santa Fe lies the municipality of Kasibu. Its rolling plains are blessed with hectares of citrus, bananas, and large-scale production of other high-value crops like ginger. Underneath lies the most popular spelunking attraction of the province—the Capisaan Cave System.
For nature geeks, Kasibu also houses the popular Edralin Falls. Bursting with rare life forms such as strangely patterned crickets, large epiphytes, and even new species of spiders, the hike proves to be delightful. The influx of visitors has also paved the way for a cemented road, thus rendering an effortless 7-minute walk to the falls.
For those seeking a more adventurous trail, there’s a dirt track that remains narrow and rugged, with a view of steep slopes and boulders.
In the district of Quezon, a short wooden bridge hangs between a vast stretch of green rice fields and the popular seven-foot Mapalyao Falls. Only an hour away from Kasibu, the falls have become a favorite picnic destination for locals who delight in its thick foliage, clear, blue green mountain springs, and an unparalleled view overlooking the lowlands of Nueva Vizcaya. The spring water provides lowlanders irrigation.
More ambitious tourists take the longer and slightly more expensive day hike up Mount Palali, a terrain once known to be the hunting ground of the Gaddang and the Bugkalot. After hours of traversing leech-infested woodland, a dive into Mapalyao’s waters becomes a well-earned reward.
How to get there: A P20-tricycle ride from the town of Solano can bring around five people to the bridge of San Juan where the hike begins. After a 45-minute to one- hour hike on muddy trails, a large and inviting pool of cold water will be in sight.
Quezon is also home to the recently discovered Lintungan Falls of Barangay Runruno. Despite its distance, it is a high-demand attraction. Lintungan offers six catch basins, four mini falls, and four main falls.
How to get there: From the junction, a motorcycle can take you to the waterfalls in less than 30 minutes, while a full jeepney takes less than an hour. The ride passes tight curves and rather unpredictable slopes, but eventually culminates with a fantastic view like that of a national park.
For overnight campers, Lintungan’s forests delight with the golden glow of fireflies – a magical end to a long journey.
Nueva Vizcaya may not yet have the ring that its sought-after counterparts in Cagayan Valley possess, but it offers little pockets of paradise that awaken the body, broaden the mind, and inspire the soul.
If you’re looking for cascades that are out of the ordinary, perhaps the key is to not stick to popular ones that you’re used to. Maybe you have to go to Nueva Vizcaya and chase waterfalls.