The next day, February 22, 2010 – our 2nd to the last day in Palawan, we had two choices, either we go to Dos Palmas or to the Underground River. I chose Underground River because it’s been one of my dreams to go there.
This trip to the Underground River supposedly should’ve been done while we were headed to go back to Puerto Princesa instead of the city tour but our plans were ruined, learning of P. Arroyo’s visit the next day and we couldn’t find a private van on a reasonable rate. Ate Cath was leaving at 8am for Manila while Ate Leidy and I were bound for Sabang.
The ride to Sabang took about 2 hours from Puerto Princesa – a little bumpy but more so very provincial, most parts are forest. We stopped at the beautiful Buenavista View Deck, they had a restroom and lots of souvenir stores plus an amazing view of Palawan’s forest and seas.
We were there for only about 30 minutes before we headed off to the Sabang port where all boats leading to the Underground River had been parked. By the way, we had to go with a tour package because it was the only way we were able to get into the Underground River since it was going to be a packed day (with the next day closed for President Arroyo’s arrival). We arrived at about 10am, I think and our tour guide told us we also had an optional tour to see the Mangroves for P200. Ate Leidy and I accepted it and we headed to the resorts to where the mangrove tour was nearest.
At the Mangrove Paddle Boat Tour, we encountered a brackish river surrounded by masses of various types of mangroves – learning from our tour guide that Palawan had the most types of mangroves in the Philippines with two of the main types being the female and the male mangrove.
The tour took about an hour or so, we didn’t go far out into the tour as it was dangerous so we turned a corner. It wasn’t boring for me at all, good thing we weren’t with anyone who was so excited that they’d even try to hold the snakes living in the mangroves, we were told that there were some people who’d park at the mangroves and try to reach for the snakes. I hate snakes. I really do and I have the biggest phobia of them to the point that I can’t even touch or look at pictures of them.
Our tour guide sang us a mangrove song as our tour ended and it felt really nice and homey that they would create a song just for their beloved forest.
At the end of our tour, we headed back to the resorts for our lunch. There were two resorts usually where the tours would end up having lunch – Taraw Vista Lodge and Restaurant and a high end resort, Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort. We were scheduled for lunch at the Taraw Vista Lodge and Restaurant.
The lodge was resort type, located at beachfront facing the South China Sea where the beach was different than El Nido’s beach. Unlike El Nido’s calm forefront, Sabang was rougher and the waves were big enough so that we could see some surfers on the far end. It was a beautiful change and I haven’t seen waves that high before (see how novice I actually am?). I didn’t dare go under the sun much, my shoulders were already torched really bad so we just took pictures of the water while waiting for lunch.
Lunch at Taraw Vista Lodge was absolutely delicious. They served a dish of every kind – soup, pork, beef, fish and chicken in a buffet type of service that I really enjoyed.
After lunch, we headed to the Sabang port for our Underground River tour supposedly at around 3pm.
We boarded a boat at around 2.30pm I think. The boats and all were arranged in our tour so we didn’t have to worry much anymore. During the bumpy boat ride, there’s a lot of photo opportunities especially with the majestic rock formations nearest to the Underground River entrance and from afar, you’ll be able to see the mountain which tops the Underground River.
We arrived at the entrance of Underground River at about 3pm and from the people-packed booth, I could already see the opening. The water was a beautiful shade of blue green, very clear water and the bottom could also be seen, although at the mouth of the cave and inside, the waters were said to be deeper than we thought and contained of many different species of underwater animals.
I can’t explain the feeling of being able to accomplish a travel dream destination – Underground River! I was kind of excited and worried at the same time that I may be disappointed or something.
We boarded a boat with the rest of our tour mates and I breathed excitement as our boatman rowed us into the mouth of the famous Underground River.
My flash was down at that time which was a bummer, but since it was really, really dark, any photos we had weren’t any good at all.
Inside the Subterranean River National Park or the Underground River, the cave is made of limestone and stalagmite rocks which at times form special kinds of images – corn, half of Jesus’ face, the Holy Family, the altar and the church near the end of the tour and many more.
We were also able to pass the bat cave which we couldn’t enter because of the dangerous bat species inside. By the way, the caps we all wore were necessary if we didn’t want to be poured on by bat droppings throughout the tour.
It was beautiful to see such nature of God’s works and you’ll be amazed that these formations are NOT man-made.
Not only that, our boatman was hilarious. I don’t know if he had his own script for every tour he makes or it’s different per batch. If it was, he’s really very clever.
After 45 minutes of amazing discoveries and a once in a lifetime experience, we turned and headed out – me sadly whispering goodbye to a dream destination.
The Subterranean River National Park is definitely a destination everyone should get to experience in their life. You’ll be amazed at how magnificent nature is and you’ll wonder how someone cannot believe in God and religion after seeing its beauty.
Our expenses for this day:
Underground River Tour P1500
Mangrove Paddle Boat Tour P200