Most people are familiar with the underground river and caves in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. However, not everybody knows about a similar land feature in Cavinti, Laguna — which is only a three to four-hour drive away from Metro Manila.
The Cavinti Underground River and Caves Complex (CURCC) was formally opened to the public in February 2014. In the same year, I had the privilege of exploring the caves with my Tita Ely and sister Alina, along with a group of about 20 people.
Coming from the town of Lumban, it took us only about half an hour to get to Cavinti town proper. From there, we rented several 4×4 vehicles, as these are the only ones that could handle the rocky terrain that leads to the caves. The dusty (and bumpy) ride took us about one hour.
Upon reaching the area, we had a quick lunch and relaxed by the river first. Then, we were gathered for a “safety” briefing before venturing into the caves. We had to wear a safety helmet (with a headlight) at all times and stay close to the group. Of course, there would be a guide to lead us during the entire “tour.”
After the briefing, we rode a boat that took us to the entrance of the cave. From there, we walked along a makeshift wooden bridge leading towards the inside chamber. This is where the “inside tour” officially began, and it would take about two hours to explore the caves.
As a first timer, it took a while for me to adjust to the darkness and dampness of the cave. Inside, we saw a lot of interesting things: stalactites, rock formations, and bats (!). I had to overcome my claustrophobia while passing through small tunnels, though I truly enjoyed swimming in the underground springs. We had a fantastic time simply gazing at the cave formations, not to mention taking lots of pictures!
My favorite part was seeing a tunnel that leads to the outside. Sunlight was pouring in and plants had grown over the parts that the sun could reach. It was truly a beautiful sight! The tunnel marked the end of our tour (we couldn’t go further as there were parts of the complex still being mapped by professional cave explorers). We climbed out and followed a path that led us back to our boat. Soon afterwards, we were back on the 4x4s and out on the main road once again.
Hands down, exploring the caves is one of my most unforgettable experiences. After all, spending two hours inside a dark, damp, and bat-filled cave is not your usual tour. If you are up for a thrilling adventure, I highly recommended taking a trip to the Cavinti caves!
For more information about the caves tour, check out the CURCC FB page.