All the best experiences
24/7 customer support
Verified quality services
Filipino Travel Experts

Information about Cagayan River

504 Google reviews
Distance From City Center
5.6 km
Family Friendly
1524 m
505 km
Average rating
Number of reviews

The Cagayan River, also known as the Rio Grande de Cagayan, is the longest river and the largest river by discharge volume of water in the Philippines. It has a total length of approximately 505 kilometres (314 mi) and a drainage basin covering 27,753 square kilometres (10,715 sq mi). It is located in the Cagayan Valley region in northeastern part of Luzon Island and traverses the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Isabela and Cagayan.


The river's headwaters are at the Caraballo Mountains of the Central Luzon at an elevation of approximately 1,524 metres (5,000 ft). The river flows north for some 505 kilometres (314 mi) to its mouth at the Babuyan Channel near the town of Aparri, Cagayan. The river drops rapidly to 91 metres (299 ft) above sea level some 227 kilometres (141 mi) from the river mouth. Its principal tributaries are the Pinacanauan, Chico, Siffu, Mallig, Magat and Ilagan Rivers.

Magat River, is the largest tributary with an estimated annual discharge of 9,808 million cubic meters. It lies in the southwestern portion of the basin, stretching approximately 150 kilometres (93 mi) from Nueva Vizcaya down to its confluence with Cagayan River about 55 kilometres (34 mi) from the river mouth.

Both Magat and Chico Rivers have extensive drainage areas which comprise about 1/3 of the whole basin.

The Ilagan River originates from the western slopes of the Sierra Madre and drains the eastern central portion of the Cagayan River basin with an estimated yearly discharge of 9,455 million cubic meters. It flows westward and joins the Cagayan River at Ilagan, Isabela, 200 kilometres (120 mi) from the mouth.

The Siffu-Mallig system lies on the slope of the Central Cordillera ranges flowing almost parallel to the Magat River. Marshes and swamps are found in some parts of its lower reaches.

Cagayan River and its tributaries have deposited sediments of Tertiary and Quaternary origin, mostly limestone sands and clays, throughout the relatively flat Cagayan Valley which is surrounded by the Cordillera Mountains in the west, Sierra Madre in the east and the Caraballo Mountains in the south.

The river has a drainage area of about 27,300 square kilometres (10,500 sq mi). in the provinces of Apayao, Aurora, Cagayan, Ifugao, Isabela, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino.

The estimated annual discharge is 53,943 million cubic meters with a groundwater reserve of 47,895 million cubic meters.


The Cagayan River and its tributaries are subject to extensive flooding during the monsoon season in Southeast Asia from May to October.

The average annual rainfall in 1,000 millimetres (39 in) in the northern part and 3,000 millimetres (120 in) in the southern mountains where the river's headwaters lie. Water from the mountains flow down very slowly because of surface retention over the extensive flood plain, the gorges in the gently-sloping mountains and the meandering course of the river.

Inundations of the Cagayan River and its tributaries have caused great loss of life and property and substantial losses to the local and national economies. The Philippine government has established several flood warning stations along the river. Experts are specifically monitoring the lower reaches from Tuguegarao to Aparri and the alluvial plain from Ilagan to Tumauini, Isabela.

In November 2020, after the onslaught of Typhoon Vamco (Ulysses), the river reached its peak level and caused floods along its vicinity due to the rainfall accumulated from the typhoon. This flooding was one of the worst floods in the river's history. The Magat Dam also contributed to the floods along the river when its floodgates opened due to a potential overflow.

Flora and fauna

The Cagayan River passes through one of the few remaining primary forests in the Philippines.

It supports the lives of numerous endemic and endangered species, like the Luzon bleeding-heart pigeon (Gallicolumba luzonica), Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) and a rare riverine fish, locally called ludong (Cestreaus plicatilis).

The ludong spawns in Cagayan River's upper reaches in Jones, Isabela. In late October until mid-November, the fish travel down the river to release their eggs at the river mouth near Aparri.

In February, ludong fry by the millions are again caught in fine nets as these travel upstream.

Due to the dwindling number of ludong caught yearly, local governments have imposed a ban on catching the fish and its fry, but the ban has failed.


The river traverses four provinces: Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Isabela and Cagayan. These provinces have an approximate population of two million people, mostly farmers and indigenous tribesmen.

The Ibanag people derive their tribe's name from Cagayan River's ancient name, Bannag. The Gaddang tribe lived in the upper reaches of the Cagayan River and its tributaries.

Economic importance

The river drains a fertile valley that produces a variety of crops, including rice, corn, bananas, coconut, citrus and tobacco.

There are dams in two of the river's tributaries, the Magat and Chico Rivers, and there are also several mining concessions in the mineral-rich Cordillera Mountains near the headwaters of the two tributary rivers.

The provincial governments along the river have also developed tourism programs that offer activities on the river, particularly whitewater rafting.


From mouth to source:

Magapit Suspension Bridge, carrying Pan-Philippine Highway, Lal-lo, Cagayan

Buntun Bridge, carrying the Santiago–Tuguegarao Road, Tuguegarao and Solana, Cagayan

Santa Maria Bridge, Cabagan–Santa Maria Road, Santa Maria, Isabela

Delfin Albano Bridge, carrying the Ilagan–Delfin Albano–Mallig Road, Delfin Albano and Tumauini, Isabela

Lullutan Bridge, carrying the Ilagan–Delfin Albano–Mallig Road, Ilagan, Isabela

Gamu Bridge, carrying the Gamu–Roxas Road, Gamu, Isabela

Naguillian Bridge, carrying Pan-Philippine Highway, Naguillian, Isabela

Angadanan–Alicia Road, Angadanan, Isabela

Dalibubon Bridge, carrying the Santiago–San Agustin Road and Echague–Jones–Maddela Road, Echague and Jones, Isabela

Jones II Bridge, carrying the Santiago–San Agustin Road, Jones, Isabela

Cordon–Diffun–Maddela–Aurora Road, Nagtipunan, QuirinoThe Pan-Philippine Highway generally follows the course of the river from Echague until the Magapit Suspension Bridge where it continues west.

Content is taken from Wikipedia