Albay Province: A Pitch-black Cave and the Underground River in Jovellar

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After a mid-morning trek at Quitinday Green Hills in Camalig, Allan, our taxi driver cum tour guide, drove us to the neighbouring town of Jovellar. He hinted that there is an underground river there, and if we’d dare, we could go inside a dry cave too.

The people at Jovellar seemed surprised to see us. They told us that we were the first tourists to visit after the typhoon and that the bamboo raft that takes people to the underground river had been destroyed. They said that have yet to finish the new one which could take a couple more hours, and that they are still in the midst of doing safely checks to see if the water inside the cave had subsided. They explained that the typhoon brought tremendous rain that caused the river to swell.

I encouraged them, or more like begged them, to do the raft quickly and hasten the safety checks. I suggested that we would explore the dry cave first and hopefully they’d be done by the time we get out.

And so to the dry cave we trudged.

Rex, our guide from Jovellar’s tourism office, informed us that there are 9 caves in the area and they started opening them to the public only in 2015. The bigger and nicer caves are several kilometers by foot. But there is a smaller cave less than a kilometer away, it’s just that is has a small entrance and could feel quite cramped inside.

It was midday then and we didn’t want to hike far anymore, so the small cave it is…

Here’s how dark it was inside the dry cave
Hubby is claustrophobic so he’d have to wait for us here near the entrance.
It was pitch-black, and we only had the light from one iPhone and two small torches which couldn’t give visibility beyond two or 3 meters. The ceiling was’t high and we were able to shine some light to see it, but we had to go closer to the walls otherwise the light won’t reach them.
Benjamin is afraid of heights and the dark and the unknown, but he came with me and Joaquin. That was a big deal! I was very proud of him and Joaquin, too! Anyway, were very surprised and amazed that the iPhone camera flash worked on our pictures.
My kids showed no fear but I was getting worried because we could’t see enough of the ground we were stepping on. It was just too dark and I knew we were not fully equipped or geared up. After just 15 minutes or so, I decided that we should just turn back, especially after seeing a hole (about 3×3 ft) on the ground which was fenced in merely by thin bamboo sticks.
That was quite an experience, something I do not think my kids will forget. That day they were brave and daring. I did have nightmares about the cave though (yes seriously! and to think I always enjoyed going to caves when I was a kid) for a couple of nights but now that I’m writing about it, I’m quite glad that we did it. This photo was taken by my hubby when the kids and I, and Rex were coming out from our short but acutely dark adventure.

We headed to the underground cave next but grabbed a bite first from the packed sandwiches we brought from Legazpi City. And then Rex relayed to us the great news! The raft is done and the checks had been competed. The kids were excited! And hubby, my claustrophobic hubby mustered sufficient courage to join us. That was another big deal for the day!

Here’s the mouth of the cave. Only one bamboo raft can operate because the river is narrow.
It was pitch-black as well in the underground river but the flash of the iPhone 8 magically produced another bright photo.
Rex then brought us to a nearby river where Joaquin could swim.
Rex’s son joined Joaquin in the river.
We stayed there for some time, waiting for Joaquin to get tired of playing in the river.

Up next: Sunset at Sumlang Lake and Christmas at the Farm

Our family’s tips:

  1. Our visit to Jovellar was in December 2019.
  2. This is part of our day-trip from Legazpi City, where we based ourselves during our stay in Albay Province.
  3. Call the Municipal Tourism Office of Jovellar first to confirm if the underground river could be visited. Call +63 906 532 1368, or Aileen +63 975 356 3211, or email them at Igujov29@gmail.com or through their FB page https://www.facebook.com/pg/tourismjovellaralbayprovince.ph/about/?ref=page_internal
  4. The tourism office will assign a guide to your group.
  5. They sell some food items (rice cakes, drinks, etc) there but I would suggest that you also bring your own.
  6. People are allowed to swim or dive in the river. We did not do this though because the water was high and murky. Joaquin had to go to another nearby river to swim.
  7. Okay, the dry cave we went to was extremely dark – much darker than the caves I had been in before. Bring your own torchlight. During our visit, they did not have strongly-lit torchlights because they couldn’t charge the batteries. There was a power outage in the province because of the typhoon.
  8. We did not encounter a lot of insects, but wear an insect repellant anyway.
  9. Public transportation is available (from Legazpi City take the bus or jeep to Guinobatan, then another jeep to Jovellar) but it’s not that expensive to hire a car in the Philippines. So please just hire one. Your driver could act as your guide too, like Allan. Your hotel would be able to book this for you.

Other posts on our volcano road trip in the Philippines:

Three Volcanoes and a Road Trip

Mount Mayon: The Majestic Lady and the Rugged ATVs

Mount Mayon: ATV Summit Trail Video – All the Way Up

Albay Province: Hiking on Quitinday Green Hills

16 comments

  1. What an adventurous day you all had. These underground caves look amazing, though I think it would have tested out my claustrophobic tendencies. The river too looks sublime. Thanks for sharing. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The dry cave became too scary for me as we went farther away from the entrance. I guess it’s because there really was nobody else there except me, my 2 kids and the guide. Gave me 2 or 3 days of nightmares, literally.

      My hubby’s claustrophobia was triggered in a cave in New Zealand. He said he couldn’t breath. Was yours like that?

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    1. No regrets for me Cristina although I really had nightmares for a couple of day hahaha. But’m I’m really glad I got to bring my kids inside a cave. Binibida ko kasi na I used to go to caves in Marinduque when I was growing up. Tas yun pala ako ang matatakot hahah super dilim kasi and I knew we were not well equipped and geared up. Did you know that Alice Dixon has been to the underground river as well? And she dove from the platform pa. Ang galing!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow, that’s a very interesting story about Alice Dixon. I’m also afraid of dark place so I might not enter the cave when I get there. I heard about the place before but has no time visiting the place. With your photos, I’m all the more taken to visit the place. Great! Salamat ng marami!

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    1. Thank you for dropping by. Unexpected adventures that day, it pays to ask the locals for recommendations. But this was actually a long overdue post. We went to Albay in Dec2019. We too are just staying put at home in Singapore right now. 🙂

      Like

  2. WHat an adventure! Inside of the small cave was so so dark, I am not sure how far in I would have ventured. I loved the river bath after thou, the water seems cold but refreshing. Great post. Thanks for sharing your fun day

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was super dark. After 10 minutes or so we started going back. I did not want to go in any further. My kids were okay but I started to become uncomfortable. Yeah the water was cold and I heard from the people there that if it weren’t for the typhoon two weeks earlier, the water would be crystal clear. Thank you for reading my blog 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was supposed to visit this place the last time I was there but it rained hard so the guide decided to call it off.

    Looking at your pictures and after reading the blog, I will definitely include this in my must visited places in the next vacation…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny my husband’s reaction was different after watching the video of the dry cave the other day. He said good thing he did not go with me and the kids hahaha. Thank you for dropping by Sonyboy. And yes not a bad idea at all for your next visit in the Phils. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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