Palawan is a beautiful place, no one will ever disagree with that.
Truth be told, the Philippines itself is a majestic and beautiful place. It is one of the top country most visited in the Asian region. Talk about white beaches, untouched beauty of mountains, the hospitality of people and its rich culture, no wonder why tourists keep on coming back to this. My home, my beloved country, Philippines.
In fact, Puerto Princesa is the longest underground river in Asia and was declared by Unesco as a World Heritage Site and also considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Before heading to this place, consecutive people have already told me that they were not satisfied with their experience on this kind of adventure. Those people have experienced sailing the underground river 3-4 years ago and I must say that things have really changed compared to their stories.
I am a morning person, particularly when a new and exciting adventure is waiting for me. So after a full-four day course of Island hopping, motorbiking and nightlife in El Nido, we headed to Underground RIver for our last activity. My body was really exhausted from the past activities plus my skin got burnt during the time I was snorkeling in between Small and Big lagoons in El Nido.
So I would probably recommend doing this trip alongside with City tour of Palawan first before traveling to El Nido, Palawan.
HOW TO GET HERE
We began traveling early morning our journey through a private van all the way to Puerto Prinsesa Pier in a small town of Sabang. A 30 to 45 minutes of zigzag and bend roads were in the loop during the drive, however, the views of lush green mountains and seaside is absolutely perfect with me. From Pier, you have to wait for your boat to take you around the coast for another 20-30 minutes boat ride to a nearby bay where you can access the river.
PASSAGE TO UNDERGROUND RIVER
A short trail of approximately 10 minutes of walk leading to the river is waiting for you and you may come across with monkeys and monitor lizard (bayawak) roaming around the woods. They are not afraid of people scattered around their territory, in fact, they walk and cross just in front of your eyes. You just have to be extra careful.
Upon reaching, there is a registration booth where officials will give you a life jacket for safety measures and an audio recorded voice as your tour guide as soon as you enter the underground river. A dedicated toilet for male and female is also available, better to use it before heading to the river.
ABOUT UNDERGROUND RIVER PUERTO PRINSESA
The underground river boasts of massive but very beautiful limestone landscape (called Karst) and also shows various formations of stalactites and stalagmites inside dome-shaped caverns that are about 120 meters wide and 60 meters high. Because of the risk factors involved, visitors are allowed to tour only about 2% of the total length of the river. (http://ppur.com.ph/)
OUR JOURNEY INTO THE UNDERGROUND
I was completely amazed by the magnificent structures formed by both stalagmites and stalactites. I was containing myself not to scream with “WOOOOOWWW!!!” each time I figured out the shape of the limestones. Our tour guide advises everyone to keep their mouth shut and avoid talking. This is for the reason of falling water drops (could be a bat urine) and we don’t wanna let it slip inside our mouth.
As soon as we enter the cave, complete and total darkness welcomed the whole group with a manual paddling of our very kind local boatman. I was, of course, frightened and excited and a bit paranoid as soon as we invade the total darkness and silence. Things crap the hell on me as we were told to watch out for snakes (OMG!) as there are also chances of their special participation. Thankfully goodness, they didn’t show up.
What makes it super extra awesome is that the audio recorded voice is very much synchronized in each minute we passed by with each limestone. Even the boat man is synchronized the way he navigates his head light towards the stalagmites and stalactites being introduced by the audio voice. It makes the whole trip extra awesome! I was overall moved with fascination how it all wonderfully formed in each of its shapes. My paranoia to darkness was all transformed to enchantment and in awe of its admirable beauty.
The photos below will not give enough justice to elaborate my entire feeling, but somehow on the other note; I wanna show you snaps on my camera while I was shaking with fascination.
WHY YOU SHOULD GO HERE
You should! Consider it as one on your checklist if you are traveling to the Philippines whether you’re a local or a foreigner. Visiting this one of the Unesco Heritage and New7 Wonders of the WORLD gives me a sense of fulfillment in my travel journey. It is the longest underground river in Asia and second longest in the WORLD.
I know! You have been into different caves and seen stalagmites and stalactites formed to crazy as a shape of a castle or alligators. But in this cave, you’ll see the Holy Family of Jesus or even Our Lady of Virgin Mary formed by natural occurrence of nature. A lot has been formed also including shapes of animals and even vegetables!
This is not the only option you have when in the vicinity of PPUR! You can also schedule a jungle trekking and witness wildlife watching over hundreds of different kinds of species. You can also immerse yourself in a nearby community and learn cultures from the locals.
- Start your journey to PPUR before heading to El Nido or Coron if you are doing activities in that area. Be sure to tick off also a City tour in Puerto Prinsesa, there are a lot of historical places awaits you too.
- Bring insect repellant as the forest is inhabited by different animals and insects.
- Avoid bringing too many things in your bag. A camera and your travel basic need is what you only need.
- The audio recorded voice will make your trip extra awesome, make sure that it is perfectly working.
YES TO ADVENTURES!