PALAWAN: Underground River National Park - A Natural Wonder


The highlight our anniversary-valentine tour in Puerto Princesa Palawan is the Underground River and Subterranean Park. If you happened to read my previous blog, i have mentioned it there that the Underground River tour is included in our vouchers which i acquired at Metrodeal. A local travel agency in Puerto Princesa handled our trip and it was a breeze. We were picked up at the hotel lobby just in time and we got some other companions from different hotels. Everything was just smooth, our permits for the subterranean river adventure were all secured by our tour guide upon reaching Sabang. Lunch and other environmental fees, transportations and boat rides were all included as part of our package. So we just sit back, relax and enjoyed the breathtaking offers of our long trip going to and from our destination.

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a protected area of the Philippines, about 80 kilometers north of the city. As far as i can remember, we traveled for like 2 hours going to the wharf at Sabang, Puerto Princesa. We had several photo stops as side trips recommended by our tour guide. 
Our Tour Van
On our first stop we dropped by at  Buenavista Viewdeck for a washroom break. But other visitors like us preferred to climbed up a stairway going up to see the full view of Ulugan Bay. According to local historians, Ulugan Bay is where the Vietnamese refugees landed to escape during the time of war. And as you look closer you’ll be able to see the so-called Tres Marias. 

Tres Marias is composed of three islets standing at the Ulugan Bay. The view could have been better if the sun is shining up high, but due to the gloomy weather, it was a bit dark. The view at the upper deck is just astounding, perfect for picture taking. The wind is cold and the air is fresh!

Another stopover is at the giant elephant rock formation. A lot of natural rock formations and attractions can be seen along the way including the Ugong Rock Formation.

I love this place because of the fresh air and the cold breeze plus the beauty of nature.

After the 2 hours long drive we finally reached the Sabang Beach. And while waiting for our tour guide to get our permits for the underground river tour we wandered around the place and took some photos. 

We also had our buffet lunch there which is, as i repeat, is included in our tour package. Eat all you can baby!

After our lunch we waited for a few more minutes for our permits to be released. As of now, permits are strictly needed on a very limited slots of 780 people per day so it is highly recommended to book your tours early as possible, especially now that Underground River was awarded as the New 7 Wonders of the World. In our case, i booked it with the travel agency about 2 weeks before our flight so we didn't have problems with our permits.

From Sabang’s Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort, we boarded a boat to reach the mouth of the underground river. And that was another 20 minutes of dizzying boat ride. There were just 3 couples in the boat including us plus our tour guide and we were greeted by stunning views of the blue ocean, the mountains and the blue sky until we reached the subterranean park.

Upon arrival at the park, you will be greeted by such a wonderful paradise. The natural rock formations, the bluegreen waters and the white sand. It was a breathtaking scenery like no other. Proud to be a Filipino!

Upon entering the National Park, we roam around the place first because it's not yet our turn for the paddle boat ride going inside the underground river. The only downside of our tour is that there was a volume of tourists waiting there that time and we were booked for boat #77. Each boat that goes inside the underground river has an allotted time of 45 minutes so we had a couple of hours to admire their rainforest to kill our time.

Inside the rainforest we spotted several monitor lizards that are just freely moving around the area. According to our tour guide they don't harm and you can take pictures of them. They got big and small monitor lizards which are also being taken care of and rescued by the National park..

Just within the National Park on the other side of the bay, there is a short board walk to the paddle boats that will take you into the cave itself. So we walked along there to reach the cave. After the short walk, again, i was amazed with such an spectacular view of nature upon reaching the paddle boat dock. Really WOW! 

Right from this area (picture below) is where you are going to ride the paddle boats going inside the cave. The boat can carry up to 8-10 passengers per tour and the boatman will serve as your tour guide inside the cave. Since we are still waiting for our boat number, we walked along the other side to find a shelter and a seat, because the long queue can be so boring. Each underground navigation takes 45 minutes back and forth.

Right at the other side was a beautiful view of nature. The pristine waters and the pure white sand. So while we are killing time, taking photographs of this lovely island is just perfect! And I will never ever get tired of doing this from time to time especially on this wonderful place!

Now here it is! My most awaited moment! Finally onboard our paddle boat ready to navigate the subterranean river! Life vests and hard hats should be worn compulsory and as per advised by our boatman. The river was calm and i was just soooo excited! 

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) is one of the most important biodiversity conservation areas of the Philippines. It features a spectacular limestone or karst landscape that contains an 8.2 km long underground river. 

It is reputed to be the longest navigable underground river in the world and upon entering the cave i was mesmerized by all the different stalactites and stalagmites, and all the natural rock formations that can be figured out like a vegetable, a girl, symbols of the Holy family, dinosaurs and a lot more!

Plus...hundreds or maybe thousands of bats are living inside the cave so please be careful when looking up and watching those rocks because a bat may just poop or pee! We are on the last bench of the boat and behind us is our boatman. Sitting in front of the boat is also one of us, a tourist, who holds the flashlight and the boatman will direct him where to point the light to show us the different rock formations.

One section is called the vegetable section where you’ll see rock formations that look like mushrooms, vegetables and other food. You have to use your wild imagination to recognize those rocks which are amazingly naturally formed. 

At the middle part of the cave was a big dome which they call the cathedral because you will find there replicas of the Holy Family, a priest and an altar-like natural stone formation. I was amazed and really having thoughts on how these stones were formed naturally. Really a wondrous work of nature and i praise God for such!

Boats are made of fiber glass, for your information. There are only 12 boats travelling to and from the cave, but only 11 are working everyday because 1 of them needs to have a day off once a week according to our tour guide Budoy. By the way, our boatman Budoy has a very good sense of humor! No dull moments once inside the cave.

There are a lot of amazing rock formations that i missed to photograph because the place was so dark and i cannot figure out my camera settings. Some of the photos here were taken using my small digicam because point and shoot works better, rather than my lenses.

Now, after the 45 minutes tour underground, it's time to leave the cave...and i hate it! Feeling bitin! 45 minutes is not that long, it was like a quick trip because while inside the cave you will never feel bored admiring the magnificent surroundings and i honestly want more!

Proud of our photo taken by the official photographers of the underground river. They are taking photos of the guests while going in and out the cave and after your tour you can check the photos at their tent and prices are reasonable. It's okey if you will not get it but i get mine anyway as a souvenir!

After the wonderful experience it's time to go back to the National Park's cottages, to wait for our group who are still there at the underground river. While waiting, we were entertained by monkeys! A lot of monkeys are just around the area, because they have this monkey's trail. Giving food to monkeys are not allowed but accidentally a girl dropped this biscuit and the monkey hurriedly run after it. 

Sosyal! Magic Flakes merienda nya! Infairness, pang-commercial sya ha! LOL!
The trip was tiring but fun. You will never get bored while waiting that long because the beautiful scenery will entertain you, not to mention the sound of water and the cold breeze! So i took advantage of snapping away minute after minute.

Now ready again for the boat going back to Sabang where our van is waiting and another 2 hours drive to the city with the typical zigzag roads, full of twists and turns. The road trip and boat ride is actually much longer than the actual underground river navigation! But worth it naman! Pwedeng ulitin!

Live and Love!

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