Exploring Underground River
The island of Palawan certainly has a terrific reputation. It has recently been named the best island in the world beating out their sister island of Boracay and the Philippines has a lot going for it in terms of tourism. With awards and titles like these, I knew the islands wouldn’t disappoint especially as it is now home to one of the new seven wonders of the world, the Subterranean River.
This UNESCO World Heritage site will surprise, delight and astound any visitor as they take a boat ride through bright blue waters to a hidden underground river connecting directly to the ocean. The cliffs and mountains views as you climb onto shore will leave your mouth agape in wonder. And that’s just the beginning of why this new wonder of the world has been so aptly named.
The entrance to the underground river looks like any other innocent beach shore. If I had happened to stumble upon this beach before it became a national park or UNESCO site, I would have no idea that such an amazing natural wonder was hiding right behind the trees. As you approach the shore from your boat you see this magnificent view laid out in front of you.
When you get off, you’ll see monkeys jump around above your head and you have to be careful when you walk so you don’t accidentally step on one. And don;t you dare chased the monkeys inside the cave like i did or else your tour guide and the rest of the tourist will wonder and bothered.. Don;t be makulit at pasaway.. Instead, walk through a short path in the forest and a spectacular sight emerges right before your unsuspecting eyes.
The water is truly this green. It’s almost impossible to believe at first glance. Stunningly beautiful. It’s well worth a lot.
The place is well run too with informative guides and a huge focus on conservation which is good to see since some places put that second to making a profit. The tour guides (bankeros) are english speaking and are very knowledgeable about the place. Exercise caution because of the local wildlife.They are fun and friendly. When he took our pictures, he always say smell instead of smile…
Then everyone piles into a small canoe to enter the longest navigable underground river in the world, boasting caves full of natural rock formations made of dissolved limestone.
Our guide proudly told us about the history of the Underground River and how important it is to the people of Palawan. Using a torch light to point out the different formations, we got to see the Virgin Mary, corn, and various other shapes. We glided quietly along the river but we humans were not alone. Thousands of bats were living in the caves and helmets were given us to prevent bat droppings fall onto our heads.
As we were told not to look up and open our mouths, I could only imagine how many thousands of these winged mammals were perched right above our heads the entire time. The boat ride lasted about 45 minutes and when we turned back, I couldn’t help but thank my lucky stars how fortunate I was to witness this phenomenon with my own eyes.
Magnificent atmosphere of this place increases the feeling of being so little and unimportant compared to the mother nature. Awesome rock formations created in thousand of years are worth seeing and admiring. Bats fly all around making noise.
I’m a virgin when it comes to the natural wonders of the world and the Underground River lived up to all its expectations for my first one. This is well worth doing if you are on Palawan Island, not to be missed. We are very happy after tour..
Tips for Visiting the Puerto Princesa Underground River
- It takes three trips from Puerto Princesa to the Underground River. From our hotel in Puerto Princesa, we went first to Sabang. Second a boat trip from Sabang docks to the bay where the river lies. Then a short walk to the river entrance.
- You need a permit to enter the national park. Since we went with a tour company, they arranged our permit for us beforehand. Book the tour a week or two early if possible to give the tour company time.
- If you go on your own, you’ll have to arrange the permit on your own in Puerto Princesa
- Wear shorts and flip flops, you’ll be getting into the water a couple times
- You can bring a DSLR camera but put it in a plastic bag or waterproof backpack. You can use it during the boat ride and you definitely want to take lots of photos!
No one should travel to the Philippines with out witnessing this amazing feat of nature , which exceeds 20 million years of age..