Underground River – Palawan

When most people think of Palawan, Coron and El Nido are what comes to mind and with good reason. They are absolutely stunning locations for snorkeling, diving, kayaking and just lounging on the beach. A second thought to most people if time permits is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Subterranean River National Park. Known more commonly as the Underground River, it is just that. One of the longest in the world and now an official New Seven Wonders of Nature carving its way 8.2km through the limestone karst landscape.

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A day trip from Puerto Princesa departs early, snaking around the bumpy roads of Palawan 80 kms north Sabang. Even in the post typhoon weather there was a surprising amount of people here. Primarily other Filipinos as I’ve noticed they really love to travel and discover their own countries offerings. The water was anything but calm as our boat battled the waves on the short journey to the river entrance. Alternatively there is a path which takes about an hour to hike. Not in this weather.

Equipped with a hard hat and a headphone set (which turned out useless) we piled into the small paddle boat with our guide and entered the dark maw of the cave. Darkness took over except the faint light of another boat ahead of us until ours was switched on. The headset just played a lulling tune. It sounded as if pulled out of a video game cave level and it just blocked the information provided by our guide. My eyes followed the light as stalactites and stalagmites were pointed out, while the cave dwelling swiftlets flew overhead. Before long the light at the end of the tunnel came back into view and we were back on the boat across the choppy waters.

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Swiftlets

It was lunch time and of course, the ubiquitous day trip buffet lunch was on the menu. The is never bad or great, but I’ve come never to expect much from these or buffets in general. From here there was a few options.

A zip line is offered here for an additional cost – 550 PHP

Ugong Rock Adventures – 550PHP

Deciding to stop at the Ugong Rock Adventures equipped again with a hardhat and gloves, they lead you spelunking through a cave that brought us to the top of a cliff in which you can abseil or zip line down from. Proceeds here go directly to the neighbouring village.

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Day Trip Cost – I paid 1500 PHP, but this is dependent as prices can vary based on which tour operator is used. Buffet lunch included.

While I can’t say this was the most exhilarating day trip I’ve ever taken part in, I would still give it a thumbs up. I do enjoy caving when I get the opportunity to learn about a little known part of this world for me, not to mention adding to my collection of UNESCO sites.

Have you ever been here? What did you think?

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