Activities & Adventure

Spelunking in the Philippines

Written by Patrick
Travel Insurance

Unleash your inner Batman and satisfy your thirst for adventure with spelunking.

Spelunking, also called caving, is a popular sport and recreational pastime of exploring caves or caverns. It requires you to walk, climb, squeeze, and crawl your way through spaces that are sometimes tight or low.  You may also need to zip line or rappel down different cave levels, dive underwater, and swim in natural pools inside the cave.

What makes spelunking so exciting is that you never know what to expect.

As you crawl through spaces with a headlamp or flashlight to guide you, impressive rock formations, canyons, underground streams, waterfalls, and even critters, such as bats may be revealed.

There are many opportunities to go spelunking in the Philippines. 

Spelunking Safety Tips

Spelunking Safety

Before you step into that dark cave, it is important to assess your overall well-being and know your limits.  While spelunking is an exciting activity, understand that this sport is not for you if you are claustrophobic or afraid of darkness, heights, or bugs.

Caves are underground chambers so they maintain mild temperatures year-round.  The temperature inside the cave is usually more cooler than surface temperatures and that makes spelunking a great activity all year round except when it rains as caves with streams or other bodies of water have the tendency to become flooded.  It is therefore wise to avoid spelunking during wet seasons.

Additionally, spelunking with a group is always better than going alone.  While the activity can be exciting and probably fulfilling when done alone, an untoward incident could arise and you may need helping hands to deal with it.  It’s not impossible to lose track of where you are and unable to find your way back. You could lose your balance, slip, and sprain your ankle.  Cellphones may not always work underground therefore preventing you from calling for help.  The bottom-line is, be mindful of the safety measures and never go alone.

Spelunking Gear

Spelunking Gear

Proper gear makes spelunking safer and more fun.  Actually, you only need to have as little gear on you as possible.  You’ll appreciate it when you crawl, squeeze, and climb through cramped spaces inside the cave.  You can search online or request for a list of essential gear from caving clubs or groups.  Basically, here are the basic items you need:

Headlamps and batteries

Don’t go inside a cave without a headlamp.  You need it so you can see in all those dark places underground.  To be safe, carry two headlamps and extra batteries with you.

Helmet

Helmet is an essential spelunking gear and you need to wear one at all times while inside the cave.  It will protect your head from low-hanging or sharp stalactites.  It is also the best location as to where to mount your headlamp.

Clothing

Wearing appropriate and comfortable clothing surely makes the activity more fun.  Choose breathable clothes that aren’t too loose to snag on sharp edges along the way.  Pants and long sleeves can prevent unnecessary cuts and scrapes and a wetsuit is ideal if you’re going to be wet most of the time while underground.

Footwear

Choose sturdy hiking boots with good rubber soles and traction to protect you from rocky, uneven, and slippery cave floors. 

First aid kit

It’s always recommended to come well-prepared.  First aid kit must contain medications for scrapes, bruises, and other emergencies.

Food and water

Bring enough water and energy drinks and bars to replenish lost energy and fuel you to continue with the exploration.

Additional Protection

While not essential, you may want to use knee pads, elbow pads, and gloves for added protection.

Camera

Camera enables you to document your caving experience.  Make sure to bring necessary cases to protect your camera and remember to ask the management for rules on taking photos.  There are management that does not allow picture taking inside the cave, some does not allow the use of flash, and some only allows selected areas to be photographed.

Spelunking FAQs

Hinagdanan Cave, Bohol

Caption: Hinagdanan Cave, Bohol

Why is it called spelunking?

The term spelunking is derived from the Latin term spēlunca which means cave, cavern, or den.

What is the difference between caving and spelunking?

Both terms mean recreational exploration of caves however, professionals call themselves cavers while amateurs are referred to as spelunkers.

Is spelunking safe?

Spelunking comes with some degree of danger but by following safety measures, being physically prepared, having reliable gear, and keeping track of weather forecasts, spelunking isn’t exactly as dangerous as it seems to be.

How many caves are there in the Philippines?

More than 3,000 caves have been recorded in the Philippines and several are still yet to be discovered, assessed, surveyed, and classified.

What is the biggest cave in the Philippines?

The Calbiga Caves, officially named the Langun-Calbiga Cave System, in Samar Island Natural Park are the largest cave system in the Philippines.  It is also the second largest in Asia.

The Philippine Speleological Society (PSS) governs the sport of spelunking in the Philippines. If you are interested about spelunking or want to know more about the sport, you can contact them through their official Facebook page.

So now you’re set, get your batman on and enjoy!

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About the Author

Patrick

Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

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