Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour

Though I haven't personally visited this place in the past, I was among the proud Filipinos who voted  for the 8-km long Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) as among the  Natural Wonders of the World a few years ago.

Some netizens have  claimed it as the world's longest underground river but it is disputed by explorers from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico City and also by the proud people of Slovenia.

Due to the recent cave explorations which discovered new and longer subterranean rivers, it would be safe to brag that the PPUR as the longest navigable underground river in the world.

Other countries may have the longest subterranean rivers but theirs could not be accessed easily by man. They could not be visited by 'lazy' explorers like most of us.

My PPUR trip

The hotel staff of Palawan Palm Suites  arranged the trip for us at least two months before our arrival. We were advised to book earlier because of the influx of tourists during summer. 

We were picked by this tourist van from our hotel at around 7:30am. There were 8 other guests who joined us in our trip. For those who opt to ride the motorcycle, you can rent it at a lower price of P600-P700 for the whole day. Lowell, a licensed tricycle driver is one of the best drivers in town (09264365245).

Our guide, Ms Maritess was good at story telling with different topics ranging from names of villages, mountains and several local folk tales. This is my short video of the beautiful scenery that can be found along the way.

I didn't notice the 1.5-hr travel time that took us to a tiny village of Sabang where the wharf is located. This is the short video report that I made while awaiting to board the motorized boat.

It is indeed true that people are queuing up to see this natural wonder. We waited another two hours for our turn to get a boat that would ferry us to the cave entrance some 30 minutes away from the wharf. Included in our tour package was a free buffet lunch at this seaside restaurant about 200 meters away from the wharf.

When it was our turn to go, I and my son were very excited. This photo was taken at the Sabang wharf while we were about to board the motorized boat that would bring us to our final destination.

Arriving at the cave entrance, there was another queue for the turn to ride the paddle boat towards the 1.5 km ride inside the cave.

The boat can accommodate 8-10 people plus the boatman who also serves as tour guide. I was reminded of my Dragon Boat Team paddlers who could become the best boatmen here.

I doubled as the lightman because I was seated upfront where the flood lamp was located.

As we were engulfed in the darkness, our vision was limited to the illumination provided by the flood lamp. I heard the distinctive sounds of the balinsasayaw flying towards different directions, disappearing in the darkness ahead of us.

Roger, our guide is also a stand-up comic. He can make fun of everything, throwing us to boisterous laughter all the time.

The rock formations that were carved by water have created images that are recognizable as fruits, religious icons and animals.

The tour guide has also memorized every section of the 1.5 km stretch of the subterranean river. Along the way you can find the  so-called 'Cathedral', Last Supper, Vegetable section, etc.

It took us around 45 minutes of tour, ending in the same entrance where we came in. The navigable stretch spans 8.2 kms but the tour management has only allowed entry up to the 1.5 km mark.

This is the image that I saw while approaching the cave entrance after finishing our memorable trip.

It was a very memorable travel that must be tried by every Filipino.

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