The Callao Cave is one of Cagayan’s famous landmarks and tourist spots. It is a designated Eco-Tourism Zone promoted by the local government. The pathways in the cave make the journey calm or callado, as the Spaniards called it, hence, its name.
The northern gem is situated in the municipality of Peñablanca in the province of Cagayan Valley. The area where Callao Cave is located sits around several cave systems including the Sierra Cave and many others.
Travelers will need to conquer a 184-step climb a staircase to reach the entrance of the first chamber.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) categorizes Callao Cave as a Class II cave. Caves under this classification have areas that are high-risk conditions and houses sensitive geological, archeological, cultural, historical, and biological values. Because of this, some sections of the cave remain closed permanently or seasonally. However, it is open to experienced cavers or guided educational visits.
The cave houses the oldest known remains of an early human species in the Philippines. It is named Homo Luzonensis (after the island of Luzon) was unearthed in Callao Cave. The discovery was recovered during excavations of 2007, 2011, and 2015. It is said that the Callao Man, believed to be 67,000 years old, is older than Palawan’s well-known Tabon Man by 20,000 years.
Callao Cave’s system has nine chambers and formations, two of which were closed down after an earthquake hit during the ‘80s. Travelers can explore the others, namely the Column, Chapel, Skeleton, Elephant’s Head, Praying Angel, Rocket, Lion’s Head, and Dog’s Head.
The first chamber, the Chapel, is a well-lit cave illuminated by a crevice directly above the cavern floor. Because of its cathedral-like shape, it was turned into a chapel by the local people. It is the only Roman Catholic Chapel inside a cave, with a rock formation that serves as the altar.
The cave’s chambers are naturally decorated with stalactites and stalagmites. Natural light travels around the cave, and when touched by light, the limestones illuminate. Inside, it’s so peaceful that travelers can hear birds chirping, voices echoing, and trees rustling.