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"Come Back, Come Back to Palawan, Philippines"

"Our Trip to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park"


The same motorcycle driver whom we hired for only P600.00 to take us around the Puerto Princesa (Iwahig, Crocodile Farm, RVM Racho de Sta. Monica) led us to a local travel agent office along Rizal St for booking a trip to the world famous Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. The leaflets I got at the airport from travel agencies priced this trip at P1,300.00 per person. Topstar Travel and Tours priced it for only P1,200! What are the inclusions in the package? Round trip air-conditioned van ride from Puerto Princesa to Sabang (distance one way: 80 kilometers), services of a trained and licensed tour guide through out the trip, entrance fee to the river, buffet lunch, pump boat ride from Sabang to the mouth of the river and back to Sabang, boat ride paddled by an experienced forest ranger/boatman/tour guide 1.5 km inside the underground river and back! Anyway you look at it, it is very reasonably priced!

The proof of the pudding is in the eating! Is it really a reasonable price? Come on, join me as I tell you about the trip! The appointed pick up time was between 7:00 to 730 am, and the air-conditioned van, a Mercedes benz, arrived at 7:10 a.m. at my brother’s home in Princesa Homes which is near the Wescom (Western Command of the AFP). A smiling young man get off from the van asking for my name. He was Ralf, our very knowledgeable tour guide. We shared the van with a Chinese couple from Mindanao, and a group of young girls and boys past their twenties (6 of them) from Cavite.

The ride from Puerto Princesa to Sabang is made up of 45 kilometers of first class concrete highway which according to Ralf was constructed by Hanjin of Korea, 20 kilometers of rough road, and 15 kilometers of under construction road. This is a great improvement since the last time I visited the river more than 10 years ago where the entire 80 km stretch was mostly rough road. We arrived at the river registration station at 8:30 a.m. But, we were informed that there were already some 800 guests ahead of us!

There was an on-going Department of Education Palarong Pambansa (National Games) in Puerto Princesa and the day we had our trip was the last day of the Games. It was the only opportunity for the delegates to visit the river! Whew! The number of visitors who intend to get into the underground river was overwhelming! When Ralf checked with the pump boat dispatcher, we were scheduled to take our turn for the pump boat ride after lunch yet possibly around 2:00 p.m. Meanwhile Ralf advised us to go swimming at the Sabang beach which is comparable to Boracay in terms of its white sand and “hindi kantilado” water depth. It was only 9:00 a.m. Buffet lunch was served at 11:30 a.m. Buffet was not bad at all with adobong native chicken, binagol na tinolang manok, grilled pork, adobong kangkong, cucumber salad and a young coconut drink.

Ralf called us to the landing pier for our turn to take the pump boat ride. He told us that Mayor Hagedorn is very strict as far as the pump boat ride is concerned. Only six passengers are allowed for the ride and we were required to wear life vest. They could not afford to have even just an accident, otherwise, the foreign tourists will be alarmed. The ride was only for 20 minutes. When we reached the mouth of the underground river, we have to fall in line for our turn to ride the boat going inside the underground river. Only 8 passengers are allowed for the boat ride again we were required to wear life vest and helmet.

Next, the underground river ride!


Edgar Sandalo

Posted by E. Sandalo 18:23 Archived in Philippines Tagged ecotourism

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