Wednesday, September 13, 2017

National Gem: Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

This year has been a crazy year packed with travels to different provinces. And I started the year visiting one of the places I've been dying to visit... Puerto Princesa's Underground River. Hailed as a World Heritage sites on December 4, 1999, this gem has been one of the must visit destinations when in Palawan. 

Hello, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.
R and I booked a tour to this beautiful site and paid PHP1,800 per head which covers round trip van transfer to and from the underground river, buffet lunch, motorized boat transfer, fees and permits, tour guide and audio device you'll use while on the underground river tour. 
We were picked up at our hotel around 8 in the morning. Before heading to the popular site, we had to stop by the Puerto Princesa Underground River Office to get our permits. Thankfully, our guide took care of everything and we just have to wait for a bit inside the rather cramped van. 
While securing permits, our guide got word that we had to wait for a couple of hours due to the influx of tourists heading to the underground river. I wasn't really surprised or disappointed as I've read several reviews saying the same thing. Others even had to wait for more than 3 hours at the Sabang Port where there is barely anything to do. 
Instead of waiting at the port, our tour guide suggested that we take a side trip to Ugong Rock Adventure. And it sounded a lot better than just sitting at the port. It was on the way too so we were not really wasting any time. But let me save my caving experience for another blog entry. 
After spending roughly an hour and half at Ugong Rock Adventure, we headed straight to Sabang Port where we had buffet lunch. Don't expect too much from it though as it is just like your typical turo-turo dishes and a small bottle of soda. 
Everyone from our group finished in record time. I guess all that climbing made everyone hungry. We had to wait about another half an hour before we got to ride the boat to the underground river. 
When we got to the island, we had to take a short walk to the actual site and it was a bit scary for me as I spotted several monkeys that didn't seem too friendly with the idea of humans entering its turf. 
But I totally got over my fear when I saw the majestic underground river. The cool water sure made me want to swim. 
We had to wait for the other group to finish their turn before we got on the boat. While waiting, we were given audio devices and earphones. 
Soon, we got on the boat and off to a beautiful adventure. 
The underground river was totally dark so our guide had to use his flashlight to direct us to what the audio was describing. 
There are several limestone formations that look like vegetables, iconic characters and so on. 
It's hard to not be awed by the massive limestone so the audio also warned us to keep our mouths shut for there are several bats living in the cave and no one would want to swallow bat droppings. 
The tour probably took about half an hour. We were only able to cover less than half of the river as the other parts are impassable by boat. But it was long enough for me to be proud to live in a country that houses this amazing natural wonder. 
It is indeed worthy to be included in the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The striking limestone formation landscape is simply breathtaking. 
Others say that it's cheaper to organize your own trip to the underground river but I highly recommend that you go for the tour services. You may shell out a few more hundreds but it saves you from hassle and possible misfortunes (e.g. not getting a boat). 


-Remember that do not take anything from the place but memories and do not leave anything but foot prints. Cliche as it may sound but that is how it should always be. 

-Allot 8 hours for this as the underground river is far from the city. Also, the wait at the port could take about 2 to 3 hours. 

-Try to enjoy the tour and not worry about taking photos. It's hard to take photos in the dark while moving anyway. 

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