There are two (2) underground rivers I visited in Apayao. Lussok and Manacota. For some reason, Lussok is more popular. As for me, Manacota is a better choice if one has to see only one.
Manacota is within the Marag Valley tourism package, which included the acsent to the Dupag Rock Formations and the Hanging Bridge.
To get to the mouth of the cave, one has to hike for 1.5 kilometers and cross the same river seven times (7X). Why, you might ask, must anyone cross the same river 7x? That is because in some parts, the edge of the river would be rocks and boulders you can not walk on, and so you must cross. Repeat this scenario as many times and you end up crossing the river 7x. Alas, I thought it was more than 7, and the guide said they were not counting just getting wet walking in the river, on its sides. Just crossing from one side to the other is 7x.
At the end of the river crossings, we saw this sign that enjoins visitors to preserve Manacota.
The fatigue from walking and crossing rivers is compensated by the beauty of the destination. And it was still just the mouth of the cave. So serene. beautiful.
We then boarded the boat without outriggers into the cave. This was realyy some adventure. The boat without outriggers was navigating thru rocks and boulders inside the cave. Some passages were so narrow it was just enough for the width of the boat.
The end point was even more worth it. It looked like paradise. The waters were stronger and the boat had to be anchored on one side of the cave to protect it from the rushing waters. We got off and saw some portions of the river so clear, so clean, and actually inviting guests for a swim. Perfect spot that we wished we could stay there longer and gave a picnic.
But we had to go back as another set of visitors had to use the boat for the same beautiful experience.
The trek back was easier, even as we were more tired. We were looking forward to a sumptuous second lunch (hahaha) that we arranged for the wife of the barangay captain to cook for us. Surely, some nourishment after this tiring but worthwhile adventure.