Coron, Palawan: Calauit Island Safari

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Following an awesome first day at Coron Town the previous day, Pao and I resisted  hitting the snooze button as we enthusiastically awoke at 3:30 AM for our 4:00 AM departure for a 3-4 hour boat ride to Calauit Game Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary better known as Calauit Safari Park in Calauit Island.

(Cover photo from Google Search on Calauit. Photo credit to owner.)

The island got its name because of the geographic shape of the island. The island is shaped like a hook, hence its name “kalawit” in Filipino. It has a total land area of approximately 3,760 hectares and is situated within Calauit Island in the northwest corner of Busuanga, the main island of the Calamianes, Northern Palawan.

It was worth it to endure a 4 hour boat ride because of this priceless view

Admiring the best view during the boat ride!

After 4 hours of anticipation, we made it!!!

Tranquil mangroves welcomed us!

The park prides itself for being the local version of an African Safari. It provides habitat to giraffes, zebras, Calamian Deers, porcupines, white breasted eagles, wild boars, and macaques. There have been proposals to include elephants, peacocks, etc in the safari. The island has been declared as a game preserve and wildlife sanctuary, an area where plants and animals can freely live in their natural state with minimum human interference.

The Calamian Deer

This was President Marcos’ response when the  International Union of Conservation of Nature made an appeal to save the endangered animals from Africa. President Marcos was granted 104 wild African animals to adopt and to nurture as he decided to bring these animals to Calauit since it was an isolated island. Should any animal outbreak occur, humans in the Philippines will be unlikely contaminated.

Eight species of  different African animals from Kenya were transported to Calauit.  It included giraffes, zebras, impalas, waterbucks, bushbacks, gazelles, elands and topis. They were allowed to coexist and live harmoniously with endemic Philippine animals like the Calamian- and mouse- deer, bearcat, Palawan peacock pheasant, sea turtles and Philippine crocodile. To date, the Safari park has around 600 animals of different species.

Like a little girl on a field trip, I had the time of my life making friends with the wild animals allowed to roam freely and interact with humans. I have never been on a safari so this visit to Calauit pretty much explains my unexplained ecstasy of being with the animals.

I especially loved the part where we were allowed to freely feed the “superstar” giraffes on the island. We were so fortunate to have met Athena (the more popular and most featured Calauit giraffe on TV) and Jim (Athena’s little offspring) and freely interact as we played tug of war during feeding time.  We were given LOTS of small tree branches while we were loaded on top of a safari truck. We were told that this specific kind of leaves were like ice cream for the giraffes. True enough, when we extended our hands for the giraffe to feed on, they immediately devoured it with much pleasure and without hesitation. I was almost dragged as if I was a tree branch myself by every pull of the giraffe. But every push and pull as I played tug of war with the giraffe was  super worth it!!!

After our private time with the giraffes, we were taken by our safari truck to see the zebras. I’m thankful for each and every travel experience because it is in these situations that I learn the most interesting things! Much as zebra prints are always great fashion statements, I learned that the oldest members of the horse family, the African zebra, is really just a black animal that grows white stripes. The alternating color pattern works well with its native environment, deflecting up to 70 percent of the heat that hits its body, as stated by the International Museum of the Horse. Super cool huh?

Next part of our tour was to meet and greet different exotic animals that were endemic to Palawan. For the first time in my life, I had a close encounter with a porcupine, tried to make an old turtle seem like a burger (disclaimer: I am not cruel to animals, the photo is just for purposes of novelty), saw how a mother macaque devoted her life to protect her offspring, admired the cat who made the seemingly the most expensive coffee beans in the world with its poop, and of course, fall in love with the giraffes and zebras all over again.

Porcupine! Looks like the porcupine is wearing gel! :)

Turtle Burger?

The protective momma macaque

The world famous Asian Palm Civet Cat who poops precious alamid coffee

Recommendations

Calauit is greatly blessed with rich and fertile soil which serve as habitat to different species of animals. It has a vast land area, and it would be really great if more species of animals will be allowed to coexist with the animals on the island. The land is just so huge and it could be maximized if more animals could be brought there. But perhaps everything will boil down to its funding and budget. The animals’ care and preservation used to be part of the national government’s budget, and it was later on transferred to the provincial government’s budget. Like any other institution relying on the government’s meager budget allowance, you have to get used to a slow process and little compensation.
But nevertheless, despite the lack of funding, I would still recommend everybody to take an adventure and head towards Calauit for your very own African Safari Adventure in the Philippines. It’s a wonderful experience that you should not try to pass should the opportunity presents itself to you.
Right after Calauit, we headed to one of the best islands I’ve seen in my life– Black Island! And I have yet to write another blog entry for that!
How to Get There:

Direct air route: Manila-Busuanga
Regular sea routes: Manila (South Harbor)-Coron-Calauit; Puerto Princesa-Coron-Calauit; Taytay-Coron-Calauit; Liminangcong (Taytay)-Coron-Calauit

Access is possible by vehicle or by boat. Small rivers and creeks abound on the island, although most of these water sources dry up during hot months. Some springs provide year-long supply of water in ponds and lagoons.

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10 responses »

  1. Pingback: Coron Palawan: Black Island, Lusong Coral Garden, Lusong Gunboat « Teacher Mia Travels

  2. Nice photos! We’ll be going to Coron next month and Calauit tour is included in our itinerary. Have you encountered big waves on your way to the island?

    • During our trip, there were occasional big waves, but not the kind of waves that would make your blood pressure shoot up. It was manageable and the boatman was very sensitive to his passengers.I think and I assure you that you should not worry about the waves. Palawan’s exquisite waters would take your mind off the big waves! :D I hope you have so much fun!!!!

      • Thanks for the former President Ferdinand Marcos ,on August 31, 1976 by virtue of the Presidential Decree No.1578,the game reserve was established .
        This was initiated in response to the appeal of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to help save African wildlife when the late President attended the 3rd World Conference in Kenya.
        A great Legacy from a Bad and Good Regime….

        ::)))

  3. Pingback: Coron Island: Kayangan Lake, Twin Peaks, Banol Beach, Skeleton Wreck « Teacher Mia Travels

    • Hi Vicki! We availed a package tour from Calamian Islands Travel and Tours. :) I believe their contact details are readily available when you do a google search about them. :) thank you!

  4. Pingback: backpacking in Busuanga Palawan Calauit Island Nature Reserve | Trekking in the Tropics

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