Ilagan City, Isabela: Santa Victoria Caves & Pinzal Falls at Ilagan Sanctuary

Santa Victoria Caves
Santa Victoria Caves in Ilagan Sanctuary, Ilagan City, Isabela

Part of the 819-hectare Fuyot Springs National Park  bordering the town of Tumauini, Ilagan Sanctuary is a protected area located in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountain range in Brgy. Santa Victoria, Ilagan City, Isabela. Among the natural attractions are Santa Victoria Caves, river-hiking to Pinzal Falls and viewing endemic and exotic animals at the mini-zoo like Philippine deer, Philippine crocodiles and Bengal tigers. This area is included in the buffer zone of the Palanan Wilderness Area or Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park. The nature park also has swimming pools, ATV rides, and a 350-meter long zipline.

Monitor Lizard
A monitor lizard at the mini-zoo of Ilagan Sanctuary
Pinzal Falls
River-trek to the cascading waters of Pinzal Falls

The mini-zoo is quite pitiful with small enclosures, and can be skipped by eco-conscious visitors. Spotting wildlife while hiking to Pinzal Falls was definitely a more rewarding experience, instead of viewing the captive animals. My favorite wildlife encounter was spotting a wild indigo-banded kingfisher (Alcedo cyanopectus), a species found only in the Philippines, along a stream near the waterfalls.

While there more than 12 limestone caves that comprise the Santa Victoria Caves, only three are open to visitors: Main Cave, Altar Cave and Adventure Cave. The walk-through caverns are very easy to explore. They are known for their unusual rock formations and sparkling rocks. Believed to have been occupied by the nomadic Agta or Dumagat people in the past, they are also of archaeological significance.

Indigo-banded Kingfisher (Alcedo cyanopectus)
An indigo-banded kingfisher – found only in the Philippines!

HOW TO GET THERE: The junction to Ilagan Sanctuary is located along the National Highway at Brgy. San Andres, 6 km north of the city center of Ilagan. One can ride a northbound bus, van or jeepney and alight at the junction, where tricycles (PHP 150 roundtrip, with waiting time) can be hired to take you to Ilagan Sanctuary (entrance fee: PHP 50, inclusive of use of the swimming pools) in Brgy. Santa Victoria.

WHERE TO STAY: Budget accommodations are available at the city center or centro of Ilagan. I stayed at no-frills and slightly rundown D’ Infinity Hotel at 24-A Paguirigan St, near the Mormon church. Rooms start at PHP 500. Tel. no. +63 78 622 3848.

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8 Responses

  1. mj says:

    Yeah. It is a great place but i do not understand why we cannot bring our wheels inside while others can. they even park thier wheels Near the pool with a guard. somebody lean on the wheels and i found out the the owner is from ilagan. Is there a discrimination in that place that they can not follow the rules? I also heard the guard said that sorry sir turista kasi. The owner said that parang yinurakan mo na rin ang mukha ko. Walang hiyang puta yan. If only the owner put a sign and symbol saying that please do not lean or sit on my car then nobody will. He got angry and said nasty words to the lady. he is not even following rules. Bring his car or parkinh it is not allowed that is thier rules and regulations said by the guard from the entrance. I just do not know if they are just being bias.

  2. Pao says:

    Hi, how many hours of tricycle ride from junction to Santuary, can you complete the 3 caves in 2 hours including the Falls?

  3. its nice,we enjoy the trip together with my teacher and classmates last february 13-14,2016.its amazing to ride in a zip line and cable cart but i remember,one of my classmate cried-out because she had a trauma in riding a zip the end all of us enjoyed the trip.

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