Recalling the slogan of the Philippines advertising "There is more fun in the Philippines", I could say about Palawan island - "It is even more fun there".
Palawan is one of the 7107 islands of the archipelago, located in the South China Sea. It has the shape of a cigar, 460 km long, 40 km wide. Mountainous terrain predominates on it, the highest mountain is Mt. Matalingahan, 2084 m above sea level. Covered by tropical forests, having a 1959 km coastline, surrounded by coral reefs, it is a perfect place for a holiday getaway.
But not only the shape and location make it attractive. Located a bit out of the way, southwest of the main archipelago, away from the Pacific Ring of Fire, it is a safe island. Free from earthquakes, typhoons and floods.
Surrounded by warm waters, with tens of kilometers of sandy beaches, waterfalls, tropical forests, it deserves to be called a princess among the Philippine islands. I think that's why the capital of the island and the province is called Puerto Princessa.
My adventure with Palawan began in January 2016. A week-long trip to the "wintering grounds in the tropics". Jump from cold and humid Shanghai to Manila and then to Puerto Princessa, I made with Philippines Airline. PVG-MNL-PPS. Equally convenient you can reach the island from Cebu Pacific, Air Asia or Jet Star Pacific. I leave the description of the island itself and its attractions on a separate article.
In this, I would like to encourage you to visit one of the "7 new wonders of Nature", a place inscribed on the UNESCO cultural heritage list. It's the Puerto Princessa Subterranean River National Park. Under this name lies the phenomenal complex of caves and chambers in the Saint Paul Mountain, a limestone karst massif.
Park itself is located 40 km from the island's capital and is well connected with it. After getting to Cabayugan, a small port in the Mimaropa region, you will be transported by traditional boats along the coast to the mouth of the underground river. A dozen or so minutes of cruise is an attraction in itself. The waves are usually quite large, especially in the period from June to December, and the bars that stabilize the boat are rather small, so keep "warm and handrail" :).
After about 20 minutes, we land on the beach in the bay of Saint Paul, from where a wooden path built between tropical vegetation, we reach the mouth of the river.
Here, after a short safety instruction, we get on a 20-person boat and sail ... to the caves. Due to the fact that it is a strict reserve, we will flow only 1200 m upstream. Far enough, however, that darkness and complete silence will fall, interrupted by the sounds of bats and dripping water. On hot days, moments spent inside the cave, will give you a break from the heat. Amazing impressions!
In the light of recent research, we know that apart from the mainstream that we have the opportunity to explore, there are others located at different levels. Something like rivers flowing one above the other. They are not yet available to visitors and probably will not be long.
The expedition itself into the Underground River complex does not last too long, about 30 minutes.
Park itself, gives shelter to the swallowtail birds and bats, of course.
You can also find Palawan hornbills, Philippine cockatoo, polygons or numerous species of parrots.
Before returning to the port, you will still have time for sunbathing in the numerous, shallow bays of the sandy beach.
The Puerto Princessa Subterranean River National Park complex is just one of many on the Palawan list of attractions. River expeditions on a raft deep into the island, a visit to the tallest tree on the island, and maybe in the entire Philippines, a bath in waterfalls or climbing Mt. Matalingahan complete this list. I will write about them in separate articles.
I believe that due to its unique charm, being on the list of new wonders of Nature and UNESCO heritage, the underground river deserves to be mentioned as the first on the list.
Maligayang pagdating sa Pawalan!
Welcome to Palawan!