Underground River tour was at the top of our itinerary in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is said to be the longest navigable subterranean river in the world. As I look back at the images we’ve captured, I’m reminded of the happy, albeit quite tiresome nature trip.
Underground River tour is typically a whole day affair, especially if you schedule this on a weekend when the largest number of tourists flock to the park.
Tours leave early in the morning. The best way to enjoy this tour is to join a group tour offered by travel agencies. You can arrange this with the hotel where you’re staying.
Tour operators provide transport aboard air-conditioned vans. Buffet lunch is also included in the Underground River tour package that typically costs from 1,200 to 1,500 pesos per person. Tourists from outside the Philippines are charged more. Ask the tour guides why, and they’d tell you it’s for the nosebleed they get speaking in English for them.
If you’re traveling with young kids, you can request the tour operator to include them in the tour free of charge. Prior to the main Underground River tour, we got to stay for a few hours at Sabang Beach, where we also had our lunch.
From Sabang’s Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort, we boarded a boat to reach the mouth of the underground river. Wild monkeys freely roam around the park. We also spotted a monitor lizard.
On a Saturday, there were so many tourists lined up to ride the boat that would go into the Underground River. It took us hours before we had our turn, but the long wait must be because there was a high-profile personality touring at that time. The boatman also served as our guide on our cruise inside the cave. He showed us the different curious formations found inside the cave.
Personally, I would really prefer a more scientific guided tour. But I guess I could only have that if I were part of a science class. The tours prepared for the usual tourists are too basic as differentiating stalactites from stalagmites, and finding figures of Christ, Mary, and Holy Spirit in the rock formations. This is the third time I have joined a cave tour. I’ve been to Sagada as well as the caves of Cagayan Valley, so basic information are simply not enough for me.
Still, the Underground River tour is different since this is navigated via a fiberglass boat. Only a part of the cave is explored by tour groups. Exploration of the rest of the river would require special permits from the government, and may only be allowed if it’s conducted for scientific purposes.