Thursday, April 10, 2014

SUMALSAG CAVE: Spelunking and More

Sumalsag Cave is counted as one of the 5 recognized caves in Palaopao Range in the municipalities of Manolo Fortich and Sumilao in Bukidnon. Sumalsag Cave stretches to 1.04km long. Its usual caving route starts from Sitio Kilabong, Vista Villa, Sumilao and exits to Sitio Diamante, Dalirig, Manolo Fortich. 

I have heard Sumalsag Cave many times. Some say it's really beautiful. Some say it's truly adventurous. Some even say they have shed tears trekking in this cave. Challenging, indeed!

The sign board leading to the cave
It was a holiday courtesy of our national heroes. And I didn't want to waste the opportunity of going out. So I decided to take the challenge of caving to Sumalsag Cave. A bus took me to Barangay Dalirig, in front of a signboard. The cave is just 4km away from the Bukidnon national highway. It is accessible through single motor (habalhabal).
Cassava is one of the major crops of the locals
 Upon reaching Sitio Kilabong, I met my guide Virgilio. We proceeded to pay the entrance fee of P25.00 and signed the logbook.

We trekked through the fields.

 The ascent is too gentle to make me pant.

 After a kilometer trek, the cave entrance awakened my spirit.

 We descended down stepping on some guano.

I got more excited when we turned our back from the natural light. The astonishing pillars and formations came into view.

 In no time, we heard a gushing water. The guide said we have to tread along the waterbed up to the exit point. Thanks to the water for the trail. So it's gonna be a wet spelunking the whole time!

Some spots are too low and narrow to pass through. So we had to crawl.

 It's not only spelunking, it's also a river trekking.

Wet and cold, we had to crawl. We had to fit our bodies through the narrow track. Sideways, upside down and all the positions you can ever imagine avoiding the sharp rocks.

 After a narrow and shallow portions, the deep portions took their turn.

Some areas are deep enough to drown humans. A dry bag can also be used as floater.

Here are the narrow portions again... AND WE WALKED LIKE A DUCK for a very long time. Water and sweat (and piss) met.  

We carefully and slowly swam in the water, carefully avoiding the sharp formations that might scratch our heads and faces.

 What a relief to get to a portion where our bodies can stand straight.


 We continued treading through the deep water, shallow water, wide and narrow trail.

 Though very cold, some portions are so tempting to bathe in.

 The deepest (and a bit creepy) part of the underground river is so challenging.

 The well carved pools are so refreshing.

Moving out of the cave without plunging in its chilling water might be disappointing. So I took time to swim until I shivered.

 And later, we saw light from a distance.

We headed to the exit point of the cave with a very narrow opening. Fishes tickled my skin.

 And there's no other way out but to submerge once again.

I was really awed looking back at the exit. Really wonderful. Had I not known of the adventure-filled crevice inside,  this narrow opening might not catch my interest. 

We exited in Sitio Diamante, Dalirig. While departing the place I could never really imagine that this narrow spring leads to a no-joke, extreme cave.


From CDO- Take a rural transit bus bound for Valencia or other southern routes (Kibawe, Wao, Banisilan, Kadingilan, Davao, Tacurong and Gensan). Drop off at Dalirig. Travel time takes around 1hour and 20minutes. Take a habalhabal to Sitio Kilabong. Trek for 1km to the cave entrance.

From Malaybalay- Take a bus bound for CDO. Drop off at Dalirig. Travel time takes around 1hour. Take a habalhabal to Sitio Kilabong. Trek for 1km to the cave entrance.


Bus Fare from Malaybalay: P45.00 
Habalhabal Fare: 30 each for 2; 50 for solo 
Entrance Fee: P25.00
Guide Fee: P250.00 per trip


A dry bag is so essential.
Headlamp is a must.
Bring helmet for added protection. 

You may contact Kagawad Veronica Nisnisan for the booking of the guide.


  1. I really love your travels sir. Sana ako rin mapuntahan ko din yang mga hidden wonders dito sa mindanao.

    1. thanks so much for passing by, Shyn... the hidden wonders of Mindanao await you...

  2. Hi Sir, naa area after to wash up after the spelunking?

    1. hi, floryville. sa gawas lang sa cave pwd man mag-wash up. pwd pud hangyo sa locals makigamit sa ilang gripo.

  3. planning to try this Sir. thanks for the guide. . . :)

    1. thanks for reading, kristine. have fun!

  4. hi..i dont mind crawling but im afraid i'll get high is the water and how many times did u submerged?thanks

    1. hi, there! the water is high enough to drown people BUT we can hold on to rocks on the side. and it won't take us long to submerge when necessary. overall, it's safe and does not strictly require swimming skills.

    2. hi sir. woooow mapapawooow ka talaga sa wonder natures sa mindanao. sir tani g ko lang po peede ba maka pasok sa cave kahit di maruning mag swemming? mga plus size po na mga tao hindi po ba ma hihirapan. ? were planning to join a group of trekkers this 18-19 po after feeding po were going to trek in the falls and go in that cave. tnx po

    3. hi po ... ang ganda po ng pics nyo... me and my friends planning to join a group of trekkeros.... mag papa feeding po kami sa area po dito... and after were going to trek falls and pasok kami didto sa cave. ask ko lang po pwede ba ang mga big plus pumasok hindi kaya sila mahihirapan? tnx sir

    4. hello, mitch. wow, that's so nice. caving is really a challenging activity. there are instances were we have to hold on to slippery rocks while carrying our body weight. please bring life vest for swimming areas. but for safety, better ask your guides if they'd allow queen size to go caving. there are narrow passages. there are walk-like-a-duck sections. based on my experience, i wouldn't risk bringing them in. after all, safety is more important than conquering a cave. if they insist, just be very careful and don't be so conscious about time. again, the best part of trekking is coming home SAFE. ENJOY...

  5. Hi. I'm planning to go there after the Kaamulan 2017. Now i'd like to ask if you still have any contacts on locals to guide me there? thanks! :)

    1. hi, hope to see you at kaamulan 2017. my last contact was Kagawad Veronica Nisnisan at 09357929972. but nowadays, i'm sure walk-in visitors can easily find a guide since the place has become a popular destination.