Your Gateway to Palawan Getaway…

The Underground River

The Saviour's Face

The tour agency called me for I was a couple of minutes late. I had a slight stomach trouble that sent me twice to the restroom and slowed me down from walking to where the van parked.

Anyway, it was no big deal I think, and we’re heading off to the Underground river 15 minutes after 6am.

I’ve been to the famous PPUR (Puerto Princesa Underground River) two years ago and apparently, a lot have changed since according to our tour guide. Just recently, PPUR was officially included in the world’s new 7 Wonders of Nature. Of all the many beautiful natural places all over the planet, Philippines again tops them all.

We will be traveling for a couple of hours according to the tour guide. She was friendly and had told us some stories along the way – a bit of history about some of the places we passed through and about the PPUR.

And surprisingly, after an hour of smooth ride, one of the kids in our group started vomiting while in the van. Then followed by a teenager a few minutes later. We all decided to stop at a souvenir shop for a quick rest and have our minds and stomach in good tune. However, it helped a little and some still threw up. It was one of my first time experiences. Almost everybody felt nauseous during the rest of the travel. The driver decided to open the windows to let the fresh air in and I thought it was better.

Sabang shore

We finally arrived in Sabang wharf at about 8am (From there, a boat is supposed take us to the mouth of the PPUR). It wasn’t a bad ride after all. Everyone was excited and went straight to the tarpaulin of the underground river hanging on the side of a building. While waiting for our tour guide who was arranging our place in the queue, the others took all the time to take more pictures of the scenery, themselves and both. The others were more interested in the souvenir items sold by individual vendors who gets near them. Everyone was happy as they wonder how the PPUR made its way to the 7 wonders.

Going to the PPUR, is not that easy at peak seasons. The usual travel routine would be – Ride a van going to Sabang (The last barangay of PPC where the PPUR is found) for two hours. Then at the Sabang wharf, when your turn comes – a boat (that can carry 6, 8, 10 or more at once) will bring you to the shore at the other end of the bay for 20-30 mins. Then from the bay, you can walk about 300 meters to the entrance or near the mouth of the PPUR. And from there, when your turn comes again, another smaller boat that can carry 6-10 people will bring you to a tour inside the PPUR.

Our tour guide finally announced it was our turn. Our group split and we occupied two boats. I joined the first one to leave and there were 5 of us. It was 8:30 when we left the wharf and it took us 20 minutes to reach the other end of the bay where the underground river is. It was sunny and the sea was smooth.

For adventurous backpackers and hikers, there are two trails around the bay. The monkey trail and the jungle trail. Both can take an average hiker a couple of hours or less to hike along the seashore, wooden bridges that goes up and down, trails between trees and rocks, and high hills. I’ve tried the monkey trail once and it was great to experience the woods.

We finally reached the shore which was busy with boats leaving and unloading other tourists. Our tour guide arranged our entrance requirements and got us into the line. From there, we crossed a wooden bridge-pathway between tall trees. At the end of the bridge is the final waiting area which is just about a hundred meters away from the mouth of the river. There are small paddle boats that can carry 6 to 10 people at once waiting for guests. As instructed, we first wore the helmets and life jackets provided. Apparently, there are water dripping from the cave’s ceiling and bird and bat poops. We took some more pictures of the irresistible scenes around us while waiting for our turn.

Finally, our turn came and we made our way to the paddle boat’s seat. The boat captain was friendly and asked the front guy to hold the big bright flashlight to guide us. The boatman paddled towards the mouth of the dark cave while we kept still in silence for awhile. As we entered the cave, the boatman started to story-tell. He told us all we need to know about the Underground river. With the bright big flashlight, he also showed us the different inside-a-cave formations with their own stories. Interestingly, each of the formations resembles different actual things including the face of Jesus Christ. He was also funny and we’d almost laugh to every statement he makes.

The whole tour inside the cave took almost about 40 minutes. It was worth it to witness a unique beauty of nature hidden in the dark. All of us on the paddle boat highly agreed to its being instated as one of the world’s best 7 wonders of nature.

Finally, we came out of the mouth of the river. We took a few more pictures along the shore, then headed back to the wharf where we had our buffet – eat-all-you-can lunch of the best seafood, pork, beef and vegetables. We stayed for a half an hour after lunch before we traveled back to the city amidst the afternoon rain. The trip home was very good. Everybody slept.

It was a tiring yet satisfying experience to see one of the Philippine’s natural pride.