We arrived in Puerto Princesa on Thursday afternoon, 13 September 2012 . Lucky us, the plane trip was good. 🙂 Thank God. Obviously, typhoon Karen was about to hit luzon. The sky was cloudy but no rain. Like Davao, I found out that Palawan don’t have typhoons. They just experience monsoon rains. And since, September is their rainy season, we are to expect a lot of rain in the next few days. Sucks when you’re on vacation. lol
I booked the underground river tour through –
Please note that the local authorities don’t allow walk-in guests for this tour. Therefore you need to book, at least 2 weeks ahead of time. Better yet, give a month’s allowance to ensure that you will really be able to go. Or your trip to Puerto Princesa is wasted. Seriously.
I scheduled ours on a Saturday. But due to strong winds and big waves, the trip was moved one day later.
We were picked up by the local tour agency at 6:30a.m. After picking up the other guests from their respective hotels, we travelled by land to Sabang , Puerto Princesa for about 2 hours. It’s such a scenic tour so you won’t get bored. But it’s difficult to take pictures when you’re running at 80-90km per hour. 😦
When we arrived in Sabang, I was surprised to see the number of people waiting for their turn. We were told that the underground river tour only resumed today. And that it’s been cancelled for 3 days. No wonder huh? The local authorities allow 700 people per day to enter the cave. So that day, they expected a total of 2,100 guests. Whew!
That meant a waiting time of at least 2 hours for our turn. 🙂 Tiring huh? Specially when it’s coupled with rain. John bought 2 sets of rain coats. We needed those because the waiting area could not accomodate everyone. I hope that they will build a real waiting shed with comfortable chairs. 🙂 What they have now are just tents and plastic chairs. One tent got blown up by the wind. lol That was the tent that covered our sitting area! haha.. Despite the miserable weather, we were still excited with the trip. I prayed that the rain would stop and the waves would calm down. Eventually, the rain stopped. But the waves, that’s another story. 🙂
We boarded the small boat around 10:30a.m. Travel time to the park took only 25 mins. It just felt like forever because of the rough seas. When you’re on a boat with just 8 pax capacity, you will really feel it. We were riding the waves, up and down.
Finally we reached the cove where the subterranean river is located. The place is so beautiful. Specially with the limestone karst beside the sea.
Our tour guide, Joseph , asked us to register before we proceeded to another waiting area inside the park. We were told to hide the raincoats because there are macaques inside the forest. And when they see any plastic container, they would think it’s food. So they will snatch those from you. 🙂 It’s a good thing I brought my scarf with me. So we just covered the folded raincoats with it.
Finally, after a waiting time of one hour, it was our turn to go inside the cave. 🙂 We boarded the “8pax capacity” paddle boat. We were asked not to make unnecessary movements while in the boat. I was worried that if it capsizes, I think they will have a hard time looking for the passengers since it’s dark inside the cave.
The river has a total of 8.2 kms but since most of it is being preserved due to the fossils and other finds dating back several million years ago, the local authorities only allow a maximum of 1.5km for the tourists to navigate. At first, I thought that’s so short. But once inside and when you reach the 1.5km area, you’re ready to go back. At least, that’s how I felt. I don’t know how to swim, so with the small paddle boat, I didn’t feel safe. Yes, I know… It’s all in the mind right? lol But when it’s dark and with the deep water, I just wasn’t comfortable at all.
Believe me, even if that’s what I felt, I still would not miss it for the world! It’s amazing inside. Being a Filipino, I am so proud of what our government has done to protect the place. That’s one legacy that our future generation should see…
Let me share some of the photos I took inside the cave. Hopefully, through my photos you will understand why the Puerto Princessa Subterranean River is one of the Seven Wonders of Nature.
After more photo ops, we went back to the port. Part of the tour was a lunch buffet which was served at Taraw Lodge and Restaurant. On the table were grilled pork, chicken adobo, sauteed kangkong , grilled fish, soup , fruits and rice.
I paid Php3,200.00 for both John and me. I thought it was an ok price considering that I didn’t have any headache anymore in getting the permit. It included the boat fee, tour guide fee, van ride and lunch.
All in all, our trip to the Seventh Wonder of Nature , was such a beautiful one! Like I said, despite the weather and all, I wouldn’t miss it! 🙂
Lea C. Walker