November 14, 2017 I posted on my facebook wall
And, immediately, my well meaning friends who only recently visited Apayao and Kalinga gave me friendly advice:
“Ingat sa daan… expect the unexpected”
“be very careful. the road is very treacherous.”
“Via Pudtol-Kabugao-Conner-Tabuk…. yan ang tunay na adventurer….”
That is because I was going from Apayao to Kalinga on a route less traveled. My friends who recently visited, and other sets of friends who visited Apayao and Kalinga, would eventually exit from Apayao thru Cagayan Valley and enter Kalinga thru Tuguegarao.
In fact, when I wanted to estimate the distance and travel time thru waze, the app was responding via the route always taken: exit thru Pamplona and then enter Kalinga thru Tuguegarao. Waze would not recommend the route.
Then I tried to calculate travel time to Conner, the last town in Apayao that shares boundaries with the first town of Pinukpuk in Kalinga, and waze again calculated using the entry via Tuguegarao. Made me think the roads are impassable.
Starting point: Star Jewel Lodge
A chance encounter with a guest at the lodge I was staying in made me decide to take the Apayao to Kalinga route. The gentleman is from Conner. He said the roads are good, but the concern was that there is a long stretch of mountain roads where there was no mobile signal, and where there were no homes or communities. That if something goes wrong, the traveler will be helpless.
I also asked a friend who lived in Tabuk if the road from Pinukpuk to Tabuk was good. She said yes.
And so armed with this info, I made sure I had enough water and food, just in case something goes wrong. And off I went.
From Luna in Apayao, the next town was Pudtol. It was a good stop to take a photo of the ruins of the old church.
Ruins of an old church in Pudtol, the most visited spot on this town
From Pudtol we started ascending the mountain road that led to Kabugao, the capital of Apayao. And then to Conner, the last town.
I realized, too, that in Apayao, there are cattle ranches.
From Conner, I saw the uphill road to Kalinga, starting from the town of Pinukpuk. And then it was on to Tabuk, the capital of Kalinga.
No wonder waze points to the route via Cagayan. This is a point where Kalinga, Apayao, and Cagayan meet.
The welcome sign at PINUKPUK, the first Kalinga town from this route.
Travelers will then have the Chico River throughout the route, all the way to Tabuk City
The roads are used to dry either rice or corn
a business establishment in Pinukpuk
Tabuk City Hall
Travel time, including stops, was 5 hours. The roads were alternately good and bad, mostly good. The views were fantastic, and more than made up for the uncertainty, and the potential danger.
Having taken this route, I now know that, with a reliable 4X4, this road is actually easy. Exciting. And scenic.