Palawan Philippines Underground River Tour
Bound for the Underground River In Palawan Philippines, we left the Microtel in Palawan about 5:35am in the morning. Way too early for me, but our guide was reserved for 8am. We arrived at the dock for our boat trip to the Underground River around 7:10am. Our van driver Edwin Lascuna at 0929-222-7674. If you contact him, please tell him Rusty and Jessie sent you. I don’t get anything but who knows, maybe I’ll get a discount if I find my way back to Palawan.
It was a pleasant ride with beautiful mountain scenery along the Northern coast line of Palawan from Puerto Princesa to Sabang town. The subterranean river is called the Puerto Princesa Underground River even though it is in Sabang Town.
The area is beautiful, The entire trip is scenic with a winding road typical in the Philippines. Surrounded by mountains to the west and the South China Sea to the east. It is a jungle. It is quite remote. Not far out of Puerto Princesa there is no electricity. Internet connections are almost non-existent in this area. The Sheridan does have a nice Philippines resort near the Underground River with an Internet Connection but I’m told it is slow. The Sheridan is not for the budget traveler.
The Underground River has been nominated for one of the 7 Wonders of The World. Please go vote for it and show your support for the Philippines. http://www.new7wonders.com The video below is from Mango Tours and features the Underground River
Once in Sabang, our driver picked out a couple of fish for our lunch and asked which one we wanted. I choose the big one. He then suggested some wild boar and I jumped at the chance. It was even tougher than I thought it would be. It was very good but I couldn’t chew very much of it.
We waited about an hour before it was time to board our boat to the Underground River itself. For the strong, you can hike to the Underground River. If you can handle it, I would surely do it. We passed a young couple that were hiking there. The girl seemed a little concerned. She asked Jessie if we were on our way back from a hike to the river. No way that I could do that but I would surely love it.
It is a short pump boat ride across the bay to the Underground River. I don’t have a single picture from within the cave. I tried but my camera would not cooperate. My other camera is an under water camera but it drowned in the sea the day before.
Once on the other side of the bay, there is a short board walk to the paddle boats that will take you into the cave itself. You’ll be inside the cave about 40 minutes to an hour. Not long enough yet I was pretty hot. Even Jessie was a little warm and she’s always cold. You’re required to wear a life vest which helps add to the heat. Part of me wanted it to end faster and part of me wanted it to last longer. The lasting longer side did win out.
Filipino Culture And The Underground River
During your Underground River tour, you’ll be guided with Filipino humor and dose of religious culture too. Many of the stalagmites look like varous religious symbols. Now if the guide had not pointed these things out, I probably wouldn’t have noticed. One section is called the vegetable section where you’ll see rock formations that look like mushrooms, vegetables and other food.
On the way back, you’ll have a chance to see a naked woman. The guide will have the person in front direct the light to the location he wants you to observe. We were told that they call her Sharon followed by a long pause, followed up “Sharon Stone.” Okay, its lame but it still makes me smile.
Many of the local Filipino in the area believe the cave is enchanted. That kept most out of the cave. Near the entrance, I did see some graffiti from 1978. It looked like someone’s name. Probably some brave teenager of the time.
Wildlife In The Underground River
We saw lots of bats and swallows. The bats are not flying, they hang from the ceiling as you’d expect. We were advised to keep our mouths closed when we look up, mostly in jest but I think there might have been some truth to it as well. The swallows zoom about and chirp. I enjoyed them. We also saw a water monitor swimming along side the cave wall.
It is a real cave and mostly untouched so it is dark. You might hear or see crickets or other wildlife. The only thing we saw were the birds, bats and water monitor.
After The Underground River Tour
After the tour, Jessie and I returned to the ranger station. We were told there was a big lizard at the entrance of the Monkey trail. I expected to see it in a cage but it was not caged at all. There were a pair of large wild water monitors within a few feet off the trail.
I was able to get close and take several pictures. As I slowly walked past the big lizard, I noticed it tensed up its tail. As you may know, they use these tails to smash into anything that threatens them. They can also use them to stun. I don’t know if they use them to stun prey but I’d be surprised if they never do.
They are incredible to watch. It is like looking at a dinosaur. Jessie was lagging behind a bit but once she got back to the area, I suggested she go see the lizards. A pinoy offered to take her picture so it would include the lizard. Now I wonder, why didn’t he offer that to me. Probably cause I don’t speak the language, huh? 🙂 I don’t blame him at all. I really don’t.
After that we headed back to our pump boat and back across the bay where I met a pinoy Ed Garcia. He told me about the Mangrove Paddle Boat Tours and explained it was a five or ten minute walk. Not for me it wasn’t. I’m very glad I went on the tour but he found a motor cycle driver to take me back to where our van driver was waiting.
I’ll write more about the Mangrove Paddle boat tour in another post. We saw two snakes on that tour and one of them was poisonous.
I am so glad I’ve seen the Underground River. National Geographic recently found some new chambers and a passage way that even the locals didn’t know about. Also, it is possible to take longer cave tour with a special permit. The special permit cost more. I don’t know how much. It is four hours long and I would be a withered, heat exhausted old man before I was done with that one. I must say though, I want to go and I want to go very much. Perhaps next time I’ll be in better shape and able to take the full tour.
You can get a shared van to the Underground River from Puerto Princesa for about P1500 so for two of us it would be P3000. The driver that took us to the airport said we could hire him for P4500 and go at our own pace. I decided to go with the private van. He also included lunch for us and played a lot of Guns and Roses on our trip home. Most of the trip, he played the typical sappy Air Supply type tunes though. He’s a nice guy and will take care of you if you decide to use him.
If you’d like to see all the pictures we took at the Underground River you can follow this link.
I know I don’t regret anything about the trip or the tour to Palawan’s Underground River.
Filed under: Philippine Resort
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