Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Exploring the Underground River in Puerto Princesa

Lo and behold! Here's one of the new seven wonders of nature: the Underground River in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. It’s definitely deserving of its new title. 

Having this in Philippines should give Filipinos more reasons to choose Puerto Princesa City as their next travel destination.

And it's not surprising that the number of visitors here is increasing! As a Unesco World Heritage site, the Underground River had an average of 700 visitors daily. Now that it’s part of the new wonders of the nature, it gets around 940 visitors everyday. This is why travelers need to reserve weeks ahead.

The entrance of the Underground River

Interesting facts about the Underground River:
  • Longest navigable underground river in the world at 8.2 km!
  • Some limestone chambers inside are as big as 120m wide and 65 meters high.
  • Lower half of the river is salty and is subjected to tidal influence of the sea.
  • Part of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park: outstanding biodiversity, richest tree flora, and the largest and most valuable limestone forest in Asia (Source)

Map of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

The Tour
The service van picked us up at the hotel by 7:30AM. It’s a 2-hour drive going to Sabang port. Don’t forget to bring your ID! This is for permits that the guide will take care of. 

Sabang Port
There were lots of people waiting for their turn to depart for the Underground River

We had to wait for more than an hour due to the volume of people.
(Photo from Ada de Pedro)

Our bangka going to the Underground River. 

After 20 minutes on the bangka, we reached this beach!

We made it! 

A few steps into the park, we saw a salamander and a big lizard!

Tourist moment when we saw the entrance of the Underground River!
We were all-smiles even if the area smelled of bat poop.
(Photo from Ada de Pedro)

Photo-op since we had to do more waiting before starting the tour.
Super excited for the 45-minute tour!

The best spot on the boat would be in front. Volunteer to take charge of the flashlight! Also, photographers get the clearest view. (Don't forget to protect your camera from water drops!)

Even if the Underground River spans a total of 8.2 km, we only toured a few kilometers of it--1.5km, if I remember what the guide said. This is because it would be extra dark and dangerous already.

Some of the wonders we saw inside:

I was seated at the back of the boat.

Bats!

One of the high points in the cave.

"3 Kings"

How small people are compared to some of the formations.

What animal do you see?

Entering a little passageway

Official photo souvenir!
Php 250 for a 5R-sized photo

Tour Cost
The tour is inclusive of an aircon van, tour guides, entrance fee, travel insurance, permit, boat transfers, and buffet lunch. If travelers want to avail of this tour, it usually costs Php 1,500 per person.

Fortunately, the hotel gave us a great deal for accommodations and tours. For our group of seven, the total cost was Php 35,000 or Php 5,000 per person. It included:
  •  2 rooms for 7 people for 3 nights 
  • Breakfast for 3 mornings 
  • Airport transfers and tour transpo 
  • Underground River tour w/ lunch 
  • Honda Bay tour w/ lunch 
  • Firefly Watching tour w/ dinner

Check out our itinerary here!

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