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Puerto Princesa Underground River

Travel
doesn’t become adventure until you leave yourself behind; Marty Robin once
said. I haven’t been everywhere but I believe that a trip to Puerto Princesa
Underground River is an absolute must for travel enthusiasts who discern that
life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.

Everyone
wanting to visit Asia in style must witness this subterranean wonder and go
deep underground on Palawan Island in the Philippines where Puerto Princesa
River lies. If you never knew, this is the world’s largest navigable
underground river with distinguishing features representing a significant
habitat for biodiversity conservation.

To
know more about the Philippines 8-km long subterranean wonder, here’s
everything you need to know about travelling around Puerto Princesa Underground
River.  

Unterground River WelcomeUnterground River Welcome Sign

What On Earth Is An Underground River?

Just
to quench your curiosity, you need to know exactly what this means. It’s
nothing different from what you think of it. Underground River flows like the
usual river you know; only that if flows very, very slowly. It has moving water
underground. This underground water flows along a corridor following the
steepest slope.

History of the Underground River

The Puerto
Princesa Underground River is UNESCO World heritage site in Asia-Pacific which lies
on the western coast of the Island of Palawan, 80 km north of the city centre
of Puerto Princesa.

The
river flows directly beneath the St Paul Mountain Range and channels its way
through a series of enormous chambers and caverns millions of years ago.  Having the cavern system stretching 24 kilometers
underneath the mountain range, the river finds its way through 8.2km of it. This
river is one of the few that emerges directly into the sea with its brackish lower
portion subjected to tidal influences. This fact in itself distinguishes the
river as a momentous natural global phenomenon. Along the river are some of the
most significant forests in Asia, distinctive wildlife and pristine natural
beauty. 

Puerto
Princesa Underground River’s caverns characterize extraordinary, eye-catching
rock formations. Its magical caverns exhibit several spectacular large chambers
some of which are approximately 120m wide and 60m high. The river is accessible
to the general public to navigate around up to 4.5 km inland. The river cruise
magnificent rock formations bestow an experience you can never find anywhere
else in the world.

The river
and the caves are significant habitat to a complex eco-system adapted to
underground life such as certain types of animals, like fish, gigantic spiders,
snakes, crabs and more. When you get there, expect to see lots of bats and
sparrows.

Don’t Listen To What They Say… Go See.

It’s
imperative to live life with no excuses and travel with no regrets. So, are you
wanting to travel the world but scared to take the next step? It’s time to
follow your dream or you may regret it forever. Get a unique holiday experience
in the world’s most spectacular destination. This can only be a trip to Puerto
Princesa Underground River.  But there’s
no way to discover new oceans unless you’ve got the courage to lose sight of
the shore.

So,
are you adventurous? Go, fly, travel, explore, roam, discover, journey and
adventure Palawan, Philippines Underground River.

Undergorund River Sabang EntryEntry to the Underground River in Sabang

Geography of the Puerto Princesa subterranean River National Park

The
geographical position of the Puerto Princesa Underground River and the
surrounding protected area is worth noting if you’ve got to experience one of
the most educative tours. The cave system of the Island of Palawan describes
some very considerable issues of interest.  

Let’s
talk about geography, but not too much of it anyway!

Puerto
Princesa Underground River is a tropical area which we can look at from several
points of views. Its closeness to the sea makes it a true estuary that creates
unique conditions in geography. In fields such as biology, meteorology, hydrology
and mineralogy, there’s always something to pick from this spectacular wonder
of nature.

For
how can we know Palawan without searching deep into its rich geography?

Palawan
is a historical region covering an area of 12,000km2. It is located
between 11050’ and 12020’ latitude N, and 117000’
and 120020’ Longitude E in the South-Western Region of Philippines
Archipelago. This place is not far from Borneo.

Mountainous, narrow and elongated nature

The
nature of the Island is basically mountainous, narrow and elongated. The island
is divided into three tectonic sectors by the two important N-S depressions corresponding
to lowlands. Along the depressions dividing the northern from the central
sector is the St. Paul Dome karst ridge.

The
unique underground system of the river has made Puerto Princesa subterranean River
National Park a popular world heritage site since 1991. The underground river
was first explored and recorded in 1930. This was witnessed by some writings on
the walls of the outpouring in Rockpile.

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In
1973, a Hungarian geologist called Balazs carried out the first sketch of the focal
gallery of the cave. Later in 80’s, two expeditions from Australia navigated
the entire branch and some side tributaries and this pushed the development of
the river and the cave further. Since then, methodic research and some
interesting explorations have been carried out and Puerto Princesa Underground
River has been elected as one of the 7 wonders of the Nature.

The scenery
of the area is a typical tropical karst characterized by irregular plateau,
large depressions, cones, towers, pinnacles and large tunnels.

Subterranean hydrology

This
underground river is a cave stream that stretches about 8 km and it collects
water from a wide surface basin. It is diverts into the sea through large
galleries overflowing with water.

How To Get to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

With
all the geography, you might be wondering then how you can find your way to
this must see attraction, right? The main access to this underground wonder is
from the sea. When you get there, you’ll realize that on the side of the beach
is some water stream carving a shallow canal through its rich coralline sand. It’s
at this point where you stop and say, “Take memories only, leave only
footprints; just as Chief Seattle would.

A few
meters on your way upstream is when you reach the long awaited lagoon
surrounded by calciferous cliff. Right at its foot is the portal which opens
its way into the Subterranean River and this marks the peak of your trip.

Where adventure begins…

If
you thought adventures is dangerous, dare routine. If you’ve been used to the
trips to the park, beach life, hiking and canoeing, you’ve got to have the guts
to tour Puerto Princesa Underground River. The experience will leave you
speechless, and then turn you into a storyteller.  

Before
you get there, this is how the journey is got to be. The main underground
stream you encounter runs in large tunnels coupled with lateral minor diverting
passages. At some point, you’ll discover some upper old relict galleries that
join with the dynamic one through its hefty chambers.

It’s
a magical experience to find out how the main resurgence of the Cabayugan River
represented by this cave disappears into the limestone about 7km upstream.

Your
journey through the caves doesn’t end here…

Discover more submarine

A
few hundred metres further E, you’ll be surprised to hit upon another marine
spring cave. The beauty of this cave is how it collects the water sinking in
the closed basins arising along the east side of the karst. It’s called the
Little Underground River.

When
you look at the hydrologic setting of the area, you’ll come into a clear
understanding of how things unfold here. If you’re keen enough, you’ll tell of
at least two drainage systems; one drained by the Underground River and the
other by the Little Underground River. Be observant and discover more submarine
and other unknown springs.

As
mentioned earlier, the entry of the Underground River on the Coast is at the
Sea level. Up to about 6km of the cave is inside the mountain.

Let’s
now talk about the navigable part of the underground river.

Experience
on the navigable part of Puerto Princesa Underground River is fantastic. Tasting
its salty water that lies under a thin sheet of fresh water is in itself
mysterious. And just to mention, the sheet is only a few centimetres thick.

But
is this the usual state of the water? Actually, this condition is only
experienced during the dry season when there is no rain. Salty water gets
cleared during overflow moments and slowly returns once the floods are gone.

The mixing of the fresh and the saline water is phenomenon and its effects on the caves cause meticulous processes of rock corrosion leading to the formation of water level notches. On its down streams, the mixing corrosion has been proved to produce typical forms of coastal caves characterized by lateral conduits, waterline notches and spongework.

Underground River SabangWonderful view of the entry to the Underground River

How To Get There From Puerto Princesa?

You
can choose one of the two options to get to Puerto Princesa Underground River
from Puerto Princesa city. The first option is a road drive from Puerto
Princesa city to Sabang port which takes you approximately 2 hours. From Sabang
port, you take a 12-20 minutes boat ride. Before then, dive into real Palawan
experience and enjoy memorable moments at the lovely beach coupled with luxury
resorts and ample inexpensive beach huts for hitchhikers. Tours from Puerto
Princesa includes transport to and fro, your permit, boat ride, tour guide and
lunch. Don’t worry about safety. Life jackets and helmets are provided and must
be worn during the trip through the Underground River.

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To avoid
inconveniences and enjoy a hassle free transaction, book your slots 2 weeks
prior to your trip and ensure you confirm your slot the city local council. The
second option is to take 1-2 hours jungle trail which starts in Sabang beach
all the way to Puerto Princesa Underground River.

How To Get There From El Nido?

Underground
River tour to Palawan, Philippines Puerto Princesa Underground River from El
Nido is one of the most exciting trips. El Nido is all about the most beautiful
lagoons and Islands, both big and small. All you do is to jump into a boat and
sail from El Nido’s magical beaches. El Nido is a perfect place for scuba,
snorkeling and diving through its clear waters and rich marine life.

The ride
takes between 5-6 hours. The van will pick you at your hotel in El Nido town
around 4.00-5.00 am in the morning and bring you to Sabang at around 11.00 am. Here,
you’ll get your lunch buffet and take a boat to Puerto Princesa Underground
River.

Flora and Fauna of the Puerto Princesa Underground River

Did
I mention that the cave is one of the world’s prime and most significant
underground ecosystems? Yes, the cave is a home the commonly observed species
like trojana. Countless bats will leave you gazing at the sky. You’ll see for yourself
thousands of swiftlets nets but don’t you get fearful. Bats won’t hurt you.  

Amazingly,
it’s like the bats and salangane were once in a dialogue and agreed upon their
timely entry and exit from the cave. With the growing number of bats and
sparrows and the huge organic matter they bring, expect to find lots of animals
like fishes, insects, snakes and other reptiles. The subterranean river is also
a home to creatures like Thereupada, Amblypygius –tailess whip scorpion and
Megalomorph spider among others.

Let’s
get into real math’s here!

The
faunal diversity of Puerto Princesa Underground River is moderate with over 254
terrestrial vertebrate species and over 165 species of birds. This represents
67% of the sum of bird’s species of Palawan. 5 of the world’s most threatened bird’s
species like the Palawan peacock and the Philippine cockatoo inhibit the
region.

Key
mammal species reported to inhibit the park are bearcat, the Palawan porcupine
and the long-tailed macaque. The record can’t be complete without giving report
of the 8 species of bats inhibiting the cave.

19 species of reptiles

In
the cave, expect to get sight of at least 19 species of reptiles, 8 of which
species are endemic. Majority of these reptiles are large predators like the
monitor lizard, the common reticulated python and the rare fresh water turtles.

The
smallest group of vertebrates recorded to inhibit the cave is the amphibians
where only 10 spices have been identified so far. The frequently encountered of
these is the Philippine woodland frog.

Looking
at the invertebrate fauna, trojana is the commonly observed insect. The list
doesn’t end here. Megalomorph spider,amblypygius tailes whip scorpion and
thereupoda also inhabit here.

The
subterranean River is also home for a vast marine component. Hawksbill turtle
and the green sea turtle which are both internationally endangered species are
observed nesting in the white sand beaches. They feed in the sea grass beds. This
is where the tropical eelgrass species like spotted sea cucumber, the horned
star fish and cigar wrasse live.

Wait, how does the underground river reach the sea?

I’m
sure there’s lots of geography here. But if you’ve been following closely how
events unfold, you must have been left wondering how the water infiltrated all
over the karst area flow to. That’s brilliant of you!

Before
you get there and find out the real happenings, I can brief you just to slake
your inquisitiveness.  

It’s
a surprising fact knowing that the cave runs all along the north-west side of the
famous St. Paul ridge. This implies that a larger part of the karsts surface
lies right hand side of the cave. In spite of this, the Underground River has
no reliable tributary from the right side. The reality of this can only be implicit
by you going there to find out for yourself. Are you adventurous? Adventure may
hurt you, but monotony will kill you. As you encounter Puerto Princesa
Underground River, you’ll encounter the real you!

Activities – Things To Do At The Puerto Princesa Underground River

It always feels good to be lost in the right direction. No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until you experience a slice of heaven that extends beyond your imagination. I mean, going away from the obvious.  Puerto Princesa Underground River is always a good idea.

When
touring this subterranean wonder for the first time or on a limited time, choosing
where to go first and what to do can become really daunting. With so many
places and so little time, you’ve got to be there anyway.

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But
before you get there, you’ve got to do a bucket list of amazing things to do in
Puerto Palawan, Philippines Princesa Underground River.

How Long Is The Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour?

It takes you approximately 1 hour or less to tour the Underground River. To avoid last minute hassle, pre-book your place on the Subterranean River tour now.

Witness The Puerto Princesa Underground River

Join
thousands of tourists who tour Puerto Princesa city every year to see Puerto
Princesa Underground River – one of the 7 Wonders of Nature. So, this should be
the first activity on your travel bucket list. If you don’t believe it until
you see it, book your trip to Puerto Princesa Underground River now.  

Sabang ZiplineEnjoying the Zipline in Sabang

It’s
got to be unbelievable paddling through the dark in your small boats with the
boatman’s headlamp being your only light that guards your way. Think of those
sharp swirls of swallows and the click of bats, not forgetting the echoing drip
of water. The journey through the giant cavernous cathedrals gets more splendid
as you find your way through mushroom-shaped rocks to the murky reaches of the
underbelly of the cavern.  

And
if you’ve got the guts, apply for special permit that allows you to go beyond
the usual 4km and into an 8.2 km ride that goes far into the rare sights of the
cave. The way is just too narrow that boats can’t get through and you’ve got to
go swimming between the rock walls till you get to see what’s in the other side
of your little world of adventure.  

Huh!
Shut Your Mouth Up!

How
can I forget to hark back and tell you to keep your mouth closed lest you
receive some gifts from above? What? The thousands of bats soaring above are
more often than not likely to drop their red faeces into your mouth is you gaze
at the wonders with your mouth open.

Snorkeling

If you like it, island hopping is got to be spectacular as you immerse yourself into real underwater paradise. It’s got to be an enormous experience hopping into the island and enjoying great moment as you come into terms with rare species of creatures. Take your moment and snorkel and get to know what this island is made of.

Iwahig Firefly Watching

Nightlife
at Palawan is got to be unforgettable with a whole hour of a magical paddleboat
tour. Firefly watching is a must see fascinating experience. When at Puerto
Princess, how more can you enjoy magical sensation than to gaze at thousands of
fireflies lit mangroves beneath the starlit heavens in Iwahig?

It
is at Iwahig River where all these begin soon after enjoying great eateries at
the restaurant as you ready for an experience that will leave you thunderstruck.

Best Eateries Ever

Your trip to Puerto Princesa Underground River cannot be complete without some stopovers at popular food joints and enjoy great eateries? Sarris Bario and Saigon Noodle House are some of the affordable, decent yet welcoming hubs for excellent fresh seafood, good coffee and yummier local and international cuisines.

Underground River Lunch Grilling FishUnderground River Lunch Grilling Fish

International Awareness (New 7 Wonders of Nature)

Competition
for the New 7 Wonders of Nature was not a joke. Winners of the contest were
announced following a global poll. Puerto Princesa Underground River was
shortlisted among the most spectacular sites in the world. The campaign began
in 2007 with over 100 million votes cast where over 220 countries participated.

The
winners in this global contest were;  

  • Amazon Rainforest and River
  • Halong Bay
  • Jeju Island
  • Iguaçu Falls
  • Puerto Princesa Underground River
  • Komodo Island
  • Table Mountain

Summary

When
it comes to enjoying life away from home and of course enjoy a unique holiday
experience, you need to agree with me that it is not the destination where you
land but the memories you create along the way that matters. A trip to Puerto
Princesa Underground River opens your eyes to the real voyage of discovery.
It’s a travel experience that makes you modest as you find for yourself the
space you occupy in the world.

Plan
your trip to this secretive estuary which represents an exceptional krast
environment where you join thousands of tourists who visit Palawan, Philippines
Underground River every year. It’s absolutely unique features are extremely
significant, making Puerto Princesa Underground River an absolute must for
everyone.

What are you waiting for? Book your trip to Puerto Princesa Underground River now and begin an adventurous journey to the real slice of haven.

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