To consider a spot that has it all and that quenches that mature crave for land and water escapade requires only an hour flight from Manila. Leaving the bustle of highly urbanized metropolitan necessitates the finger to do some few clicks and press the keyword on search engines: Palawan’s Puerto Princesa.
To imagine the inviting white powdery shoreline and the swaying palm contour through the coast unwinds a piece of one hectic soul. And since Palawan in general, is best known for water sports that includes island hopping, snorkeling, and kayaking; its important not to miss that it is also a diving haven for its many shipwrecks found along the seaside of Coron Island—a harmony for wreck divers. Certainly, the flourishing marine life in the Palawan coasts is remarkably among the best globally.
For tourists who already visited Puerto Princesa in Palawan, an eye catcher adventure site is worth manifold visits. Notably called Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park by virtue of Proclamation No. 835 on March 26, 1971, it is now included as one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Located about Fifty Kilometers North (Saint Paul Mountain Range of the northern coast) of the City of Puerto Princesa, the National Park is bordered by St. Paul Bay to the north and Babuyan River to the east. Since 1992, the city government of Puerto Princesa has managed the National Park or St. Paul Underground River. It also became the finalist for the “New Seven Wonders of Nature” competition.
Believed to be the longest underground river in the world, the entrance to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a short hike from the town of Sabang. This repeatedly described as an “enchanting place” mesmerizes tourists of its majestic formations and serene gush. It’s akin to religious-like images of Stalactites and Stalagmites are awe-inspiring; cove dwelling faunas dwelling in the underground rivers attract tourists’ attention too.
The unruffled waters in Puerto Princesa Subterranean Underground River give leeway for a superb banca trip down to its other end; the river winds just about limestone caverns that are carved naturally by precipitating waters over centuries. The underground river is bound to the sea and the lower half portion of the river is brackish subjecting its cavern entrance to tidal influences.
As one of the most important biodiversity conservation areas of the Philippines, it features a spectacular limestone or karst landscape that contains an 8.2 km long underground river. Comprising the land forms of the park is a rocky mountain covered with verdant tropical rain forests. The area also represents significant habitat for biodiversity conservation. It contains a full mountain to the sea ecosystem and protects the woodland which is among the most noteworthy in Asia.
A portion of the park is vegetated with karst limestone. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park has more reasons than simply an expedition site. One worth mentioning is the wildlife preservation park where the endangered Palawan Mousedeer and famous peacock pheasants. The Philippines Cockatoo are also found here.
Although the underground river can easily be navigable, trained park staff operates paddle boats up to a forty five minute tour of the cave formations to appreciate naturally formed geological sculptures. Also notable are the bats numbering in thousands and swiftlets that inhabit the cave. This wonder of nature is more than a treat.
There are eight forest formations present in the National Park. A 5.3 Kilometer trail from Sabang to the Underground River is meant to allow visitors to trek through forest formations and observe wildlife. A sound of the wilderness also soothes stress. It is in fact a gratifying experience of an athletic jungle adventure for those physically fit to trek steep climbs where commonly seen wildlife are monkeys, monitor lizards, and squirrels.
The National Park is also home to at least seven wildlife species listed under the Convention of Internationally Threatened and Endangered Species. Designated as an Important Bird Area and Endemic Bird Area by Bird International; some one hundred and ninety five species of birds including all fifteen endemic species of Palawan, one must start an early trek to enjoy a glimpse behind a binoculars to see vibrantly colored birds of the park. Remarkable birds include Cockatoo, Palawan Peacock pheasant, Palawan hornbill, blue-napped parrot.
A mangrove paddleboat tour allows guests to value what aged growth mangrove forest without charge of human exploitation looks like. Tourists are also become stewards, given the chance to contribute to the cause of preservation by planting mangrove saplings in key planting areas. This project is managed and operated by local community residents and is also epitomized as a model for community enrichment.
The National Park also offers adventure caving Aside from the Underground River. The area possesses a number of cave systems worth exploring. Climbing Ugong Rock allows one to view the contiguous natural finery. There also is the Lions Cave and the Daylight Hole.
The shoreline comprises white sand beaches, perhaps the island’s most beautiful and pristine beaches. Among the well-liked resorts are the Sabang beach, Panaguman beach, and Marta Fe beach. The inviting and soothing waters make it idyllic for swimming or simply enjoying the sun.
One unique thing about Palawan is the aboriginal culture of Batak and Tagbanua, two among the cultural groups found within Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. Understanding the practices of these tribal groups is showcased in the Ethographic Museum. Briefings and information materials about the Park could also be availed at the museum.