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5 Action-Packed Things To Do in Apayao, Cordillera Edit

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Colleen Cabili  • Contributor
Opinions expressed by Explora.ph Contributors are their own.
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When people hear of northern Luzon, destinations that immediately come to mind are the cobbled streets of Vigan and the sand dunes of Laoag. If you’re after a laid-back and fuss-free getaway, both destinations are definitely a must-visit. For those who crave adrenaline-pumping activities off the beaten path, however, there’s Apayao in the Cordillera region. This landlocked province is teeming with action-packed attractions that cater to fearless wanderers. Here are 5 heart-stopping thrills you should experience in Cordillera’s last nature frontier.

1. Climb the Father Rock at Dupag Rock Formation

Dupag Rock Formation is one of Apayao’s most famous tourist destinations. This sprawling labyrinth of 7 to 8-foot jagged limestone rocks sits majestically atop a 30-meter high hill in Marag Valley. There are 3 different trails to choose from with varying levels of difficulty. They all involve clambering upwards and sideways through cramped spaces, although the easiest route would take you to the highest rock in 30 to 45 minutes. A 360-degree view of the surrounding forests, fields, and rivers awaits at the peak. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the Philippine eagle!

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The cluster of sharp rocks look slightly menacing from afar. Photo by Jan Cayaba.
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When treading the rock formation, remember to watch your step and listen to the tour guide! Photo by Butch Capoy.
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The view from Father Rock. Photo by Butch Capoy.
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Photo by Jan Cayaba.
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Not your usual group photo. Photo by Butch Capoy.

2. Explore the vertical cave of Lussok Underground River

Boating down the teal waters of Lussok Underground River is nothing new. Scaling the limestone cave, on the other hand, is a wholly different experience only a few would dare to try out. Choosing to exit the vicinity this way would entail an hour or two of crawling and climbing through damp and dark crevices, but don’t fret! Rock formations of all shapes and sizes can be seen along the way. Some even glitter and reflect light!  

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The river looks like it came straight out of a fantasy story. Photo by Monte Corpuz.
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The entrance is just half the height of the cavern's ceiling. Photo by Butch Capoy.
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It's important to wear proper footwear to avoid accidents. Photo by Butch Capoy.
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Don't hesitate to ask for help if you're having trouble with your footing. Photo by Butch Capoy.

3. Cliff dive at Maton River

A few minutes away from the boundary of Lower and Upper Apayao is Maton River, a sapphire-tinged stream that gets filled with locals during hot summer months. A massive boulder looms at the side of the river. Feel free to climb to the top for an exhilarating 15-foot-high splash! 

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Maton River on a sunny afternoon. Photo by Monte Corpuz.
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This massive boulder is much higher than it looks! Photo by Monte Corpuz.
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The bedrock makes a good back massager. Photo by Monte Corpuz.
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The water's perfect for cooling down on a hot day! Photo by Monte Corpuz.

4. Swim with the rainbow at Gololan Falls

Gololan Falls is a 33-meter-high cascade that comes with its own rainbow. The 30-minute downhill trek can send even the most seasoned hiker huffing and puffing, which is all worth it once you catch a glimpse of the breathtaking gem that awaits. Don’t get too carried away with swimming though! If going to the falls was challenging enough, the purely uphill trip back to the main road requires double the effort.

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It's difficult to hear one another over the roaring of Gololan Falls. Photo by Butch Capoy.
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Check out the man on the left for scale! Photo by Monte Corpuz.
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There are rocks you can rest on if you're tired of paddling. Photo by Monte Corpuz.

5. Find Purag River’s hidden chamber

Purag River is an emerging tourist destination located in Apayao’s fruit capital, the humble town of Conner. Families would often be seen feasting on a sumptuous spread of igat (eel) and wild duck dishes at the rocks by the riverbank. The blue-green pool, which can go as deep as 30 feet, hides a chamber frequented by individuals and couples yearning for alone time. You’d have to dive through a hole by the low-lying waterfall to get to the hidden chamber.

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There are two ways to reach the cascades: you can either swim or ride a raft. Photo by Monte Corpuz.
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One of the caves can be found in this spot. You'll have to dive underwater to get inside! Photo by Monte Corpuz.
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These kids are making the most out of their summer break. Photo by Monte Corpuz.

Where to stay in Apayao

Staying in Apayao is incredibly afforable! Book your stay for as low as P300, good for 4 people. (Yes, four!) View our listings here. At Explora, you can easily discover the best things to do and places to stay wherever you are in the Philippines! Many of our listings are unique and can't be found anywhere else on the web.

How to get to Luna, Apayao

Various bus lines in Sampaloc, Manila, offer trips to Junction Luna via Abulug, Cagayan for approximately 700-750 pesos one-way. The trip can take up to 12 hours depending on the traffic. From Junction Luna Terminal, take a tricycle to Luna Poblacion. The 15-minute trip costs 30 pesos per head.


If traveling by air, take a PAL or Cebu Pacific direct flight to Laoag or Tuguegarao. The airfare for a one-way trip starts at 2,000 pesos per head. Both airports have tricycle and jeepneys bound for Luna, which is approximately a 3 to 4-hour drive away.


Getting around Apayao is a bit trickier since public transportation is limited. You can opt to negotiate with the tricycle and habal-habal operators in the area. If traveling in groups, renting a car or a van in Laoag or Tuguegarao is the most convenient option.


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