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Philippines Travel Scenery: Cruise through Palawan’s Underground River

Cruising thru Puerto Princesa’s Underground River and getting an unforgettable experience and appreciation for nature. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP), also known as the Underground River is one of the most important biodiversity conservation areas of the Philippines. It is located Midwest coast of Palawan, some 80 km northwest of Puerto Princesa City.

The PPSRNP was established by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 835 issued on March 26, 1971. Formerly known as St. Paul Subterranean National Park, it initially comprised of 3,901 hectares. To ensure long-term viability of the PPSRNP, PP No. 212 was issued in November 12, 1999 increasing its area to 22,202 hectares and changed the name of the Park as it is presently known to properly identify it with the place.

The PPSRNP features a spectacular limestone formation. It contains an 8.2 km long underground river that flows directly to the sea. The lower half of the river is brackish and subject to tidal influence. This makes it one of the most unique natural phenomena of its kind to exist. The PPSRNP also contains a full mountain to sea ecosystem and is designated a core area for the Palawan Biosphere Reserve. It is declared as a National Committee on Geological Sciences (NCGS) for its scientific importance as a permanent laboratory for studies on geological processes, uniqueness and high scenic value. In recognition of its globally significant natural properties, it was inscribed to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) list of Natural World Heritage Sites on December 4, 1999

Through the earnest efforts of Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn, management of the PPSRNP was transferred from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to the City Government of Puerto Princesa in 1992. It has the distinction of being the first national park devolved and successfully managed by a Local Government Unit, It is managed by the City Government of Puerto Princesa through a Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), a multi-sect policy making body that provided policy directions and other oversight functions. It is one of the few examples of effective protected area management in the Philippines.

From Puerto Princessa City (Palawan), take a jeep or hire aircon shuttle vans to the park. It takes around 1 ½ hours for the 81 km. trip passing Bgy. Cabayugan to Sabang then 10-15 minutes pumpboat ride from Sabang to Underground River

Or, instead of the pumpboat, an alternative 4 km trail to the Cave is designed in such a way that it allows visitors to trek through the different forest formations of the PPSRNP that will take around 1½ to 2 hours hike passing through monkey trail, offered for adventurous and outdoor lover visitors.

The Underground River is easily navigable subterranean river in the world. Park operated paddle boats take visitors for a 45 minutes tour of the cave to experience and appreciate the interesting rock formations. Notable are the thousand of bats and swiftlets that inhabit the cave.

One can enter the underground river on board a small boat (banca) with outriggers, equipped with searchlight and accompanied by an enthusiastic and entertaining boat man.  Once aboard the boat, the adventure starts.

As you enter the cave, you will be welcomed by a cool light breeze, flying bats and swiftlets. And slowly light fades as you go deeper in the cave, so dark that without the searchlight it will be impossible to see even your own hand.

As the cruise go along the cave, the boatman entertains visitors with rich information combined with a great sense of humor to make the journey enjoyable and entertaining. The cruise will take about 45 minutes, an unforgettable experience and appreciation for nature with the fascinating doomed amphitheaters and rock formations that the boatman named some of it mushroom, holy family, candle, sexy lady, titanic and much more. What are these? Well, you better come and visit the Underground River to find out.

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