As a kid, I only had two destinations in my bucket list, Disneyland & Calayan Island. I was so fascinated to discover that there is an island bearing our family name. I even once thought my ancestors owned it.
Twenty years after setting foot on Disneyland – it was finally happening. On a trip to Santa Ana, Cagayan, I discovered that a ferry, Eagle Ferry plies between Santa Ana and Calayan via Camiguin and it only cost P 700 one way! So things fell into place, research & careful planning with my buddies transpired.
We were only there for three days but we managed to get around & explore the island – we hiked & discovered the powdery white sands & crystal clear waters of Sibang Cove, we walked around the town & had a glimpse of their daily routine and I was even able take a few snaps of the elusive Calayan Rail, an endemic flightless bird which was only officially discovered in August 2004.
Day 1 – The 17-hour drive to Claveria, Cagayan
Yes, Claveria (always have a Plan B). After all the planning, we were informed 2 days before the trip that the ferry changed its schedule to give way to a local official’s birthday celebration. So we decided to take the lampitaw, a big banca used to ferry cargo from Claveria, Cagayan.
We took the long but scenic route via La Union, Ilocos Sur & Ilocos Norte. The journey offered plenty of opportunity to take photos of historic places & landmarks as well as the breathtaking views of the Ilocos coastline.
Day 2 – The Trip to Calayan
We were afraid the trip wasn’t pushing thru because of the heavy rains the previous day. We woke up to a cloudy morning with some showers but at around 6 am, we were told that the Coast Guard gave clearance for the lampitaws to travel to Calayan.
On landing, we were surprised to have been picked up by the town’s police chief who brought us to Tessie’s place. We settled down, took our lunch and went into our adventure – to Sibang Cove!
Day 3 – In Search of the Calayan Rail, “piding”
After a good night’s rest, we started early on our 2nd day for a trip to the jungle to look for the Calayan Rail. We were accompanied by a local guide, James who brought with a portable mp3 player which has a recording of the birds’s mating call.
After about two & a half hours of hiking in the jungle, we were told to stop and keep still – there it was, a Calayan Rail basking on a small patch of sunlight along the trail. It was a very short sighting, these photos were taken in less than a minute. Just like that after a few snaps, it disappeared back into the jungle as it may have sensed our presence.
Day 4 – Farewell Calayan