Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya: Mapalyao Falls

Nueva Vizcaya in the Cagayan Valley region doesn’t get much notice from people who simply pass through the province on their way either to the Cordillera region (it’s a less popular route to Banaue) or the northeastern provinces of Isabela and Cagayan. It’s true that the landlocked province doesn’t have much in the way of the usual attractions, but intrepid travelers are drawn by the lack of other tourists and the rawness of nature.

I find myself here one weekend because a friend invited me to explore parts of the province while she attends a conference. Unfortunately our schedules didn’t match. She had to go a few days earlier, but since I can’t just change the dates of my vacation leave, I end up doing another solo travel. Not that I’m complaining.

Needless to say, I have little idea of what to see or where to go, but browsing travel blogs, I managed to come up with a rough itinerary. The place I decide to go to is the Mapalyao Falls in Quezon municipality just east of Solano in the northern part of the province. It’s not really the most popular (it’s not even on Google Maps), and very limited information can be found on the internet. But with limited time and budget, I choose this since it’s the nearest to Solano, which in turn is just a few minutes away from the capital Bayombong and is the most accessible to a few treks.

Nueva Vizcaya’s geography features mountains, forests, and rivers.
Interesting stones dot the landscape going to Mapalyao Falls.
Dried stalks carpet a rice field in the dry season heat.

Nueva Vizcaya is mountainous and heavily forested, with the Cordillera mountain range towering over to its west side and the Sierra Madre on its east side.  This makes it a great spot for alternative trails, although the lack of proper tourist infrastructure makes it inadvisable for all but the most seasoned trekkers.

Going to the falls itself requires a tricycle ride from the town center, and the trip takes about half an hour, passing through fields and rivers. The tricycle drops me off at the hanging bridge in Barangay San Juan, about 2 kilometers from the main highway, and from there it’s just a short walk to the waterfalls.

The falls isn’t exceptional in the dry season, although it still makes for a nice dip especially with the scorching weather. A lady at the store by the bridge tells me there’s larger falls, but it involves a long trek. Without a guide and a general mood for more arduous walking, I just enjoy the place and the solitude.

A hanging bridge leads to the trail to the falls.
In the dry season, the Mapalyao Falls has weak current and shallow pools.
Without the hordes of visitors as in many other places, Mapalyao Falls (and Nueva Vizcaya in general) is great for solitude seekers.

About an hour later, I return to where the tricycle dropped me off. I told him not to wait for me, so he’s gone; I figure I can just walk back to the highway and flag a passing tricycle. This way, I get to insulate myself less to the surroundings and take more of the scenery.


Some notes on going to Mapalyao Falls:

  • The falls is located in the municipality of Quezon, just east of Solano.
  • Tricycles bound for the municipality are parked near the Aldersgate College in Mabini Street.
  • Fare costs PHP 150 per tricycle. If you have the tricycle for yourself, you can say you’re going to Mapalyao Falls, and the driver can drop you off  right at the hanging bridge. Or, if you’re sharing the tricycle with other passengers, you can ask that you be dropped off at the path by the highway leading to Barangay San Juan. From there, it’s about a 2-kilometer walk to the hanging bridge. The path is mostly rocky but straightforward.
  • Admission to the falls is PHP 10.

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