Imagine taking on a quest towards a grand adventure towards an underground cave enriched with million-years’ worth of limestone rock formations as evidenced by its stalactites and stalagmites beneath lush mountains, and you find yourself in immense awe with all its wonder as you cruise through a quiet and tranquil river. And then you realize, everything you just imagined can happen in front of your very eyes. This unspoiled beauty of nature presents pleasurable exploration found in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is nominated as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. It is a significant core area of the Palawan Biosphere Reserve under the Man and Biosphere Program. It is also considered as one of UNESCO’s Natural World Heritage Sites, therefore securing an unwritten mandate to safeguard and protect this natural sanctuary for all of humanity.
I was truly in awe as I experienced navigating through the longest navigable underground river in the world. Before the entrance of the cave, we were given a stunning view of the limestone and karst landscape of the river park.
Before you get to ride the outrigger boats, one needs to register first, don safety life vests and protective helmets. After which, you need to queue and wait for your turn for the boat to fetch you. Each boat has a lamp, a flashlight, and of course, a tour-guide slash boat man to brief you through the history of the subterranean river. For this trip, we were lucky enough to have been assigned to Toting, one of the most sought-after tour guides because of his quick wit and hilarious humor. True enough, we ended up very much entertained for the whole 45 minutes tour of the river. Because of this, he has also become a favorite among the travel shows as evidenced by the number of his television appearances.
|The Gang (Me and my relatives on our way to the priceless Underground River!)|
While cruising through the river, you are only accompanied by pitch black darkness aided by the flashlight that spotlights the amazing limestone formations called stalactites and stalagmites. Along the way, you are guided by the different species of bats that come hovering over your heads, and if you’re lucky enough, you might get the dropping of your life. (That’s why we should be thankful for the helmets provided!)
The Puerto Princesa Underground River, at 8.2 kilometers, is the longest underground river in the world that may be explored by man. However, access to tourists is restricted at 1.5 kilometers, a stretch of 4.3 kilometers is navigable but no longer accessible to tourists. If you want to further explore the cave and the river, you would have to get a special permit to do that.
After exploring the full 1.5 kilometers, boats head back to the pick-up point where tourists alight. And there, you get to see the exotic monitor lizard, more popularly known by its native name as bayawak.
And if you have much free time, you can enjoy wading in the white sand beach of Sabang beach and put a smile on your face for being able to have the chance to see the priceless beauty of nature called Palawan.
1. Fly from point of origin to Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines!
2. Land travel from Puerto Princesa proper to the town of Sabang. (around 2.5 to 3 hours)
3. Boat ride from the Sabang port to Sabang Beach
4. Alight boat and head to the Underground river!
1. Package tours range from P1,200 to P1,500/pax depending on the travel agency that you book. (This already includes ride to Sabang, lunch, boat and entrance fees.)
2. If you wish to arrange for your own tour, the boat is rented for P6000 for 6 pax, entrance is P150 per head, rented van costs P3000.