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…
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!
Up next: Sunset at Sumlang Lake and Christmas at the Farm
Our family’s tips:
- Our visit to Jovellar was in December 2019.
- This is part of our day-trip from Legazpi City, where we based ourselves during our stay in Albay Province.
- 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
- The tourism office will assign a guide to your group.
- They sell some food items (rice cakes, drinks, etc) there but I would suggest that you also bring your own.
- 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.
- 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.
- We did not encounter a lot of insects, but wear an insect repellant anyway.
- 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.