The Underground River
Sabang Travel Blog› entry 4 of 13 › view all entries
August 20th, 2008 – by: JeAr
On our second day in PP, we decided to see the famous underground river in Sabang instead. Take a deep breath - the place is called (inhale) Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (exhale). We booked a tour with our tricycle driver for P1,500 each (for more details about the tour, please check the review below). Kinda expensive, but we just didn't have enough time and information to do it ourselves.
A van picked us up at the guesthouse at exactly 7AM. We were greeted by our very energetic guide, Pam. Seriously, she rocked! She knew everything about Palawan, and she made our trip very memorable and fun.
The trip to Sabang took 3.5 hours (with only one short piss stop), half of which was on an unsealed road. Thank goodness our van was comfortable. Sabang is a coastal town (which technically is not a town since it is still administered in PP, but that's beside the point), and to get to the underground river, you need to take an outrigger boat, or banca, that runs the length of the coastline to the opening of the cave where the river flows directly to the sea. Each banca only takes a maximum of 6 people (plus 2 boatmen), and when the waves get pretty big, they take as little as 2 people per boat for insurance purposes. Well, glad to know we're insured!
From the banca, we had a very nice view of the rugged coastlines dotted with pocket beaches here and there flanked by the turquoise sea on one side and the thickly-forested mountains on the other.
Before we docked, Pam warned us to not bring any plastic covered stuff because the monkeys (long-tailed macaque) would ambush us and steal the stuff, assuming they were food. So we left all but our basic stuff on the banca. Then, we walked towards the opening of the cave where we donned life vests and protective helmets. Then, we waited for our turn to get in the cave together with several others (it was a busy day). Seb used this as an opportunity to take pictures of the surrounding area, and we were also treated to some sightings of macaques and monitor lizards.
After what seemed like an eternity, it's finally our turn. Unbelievably, they fitted us and 8 other people (not the same group with us in the van) on a kayak, which triggered some unwanted phobia attack from me. Even though we had life vests on, I wouldn't want to fall into the water swarming with unknown creatures and worse, guano (bat manures). I hid my fear quite effectively, but deep inside I was screaming "please don't let us capsize!" over and over. I'm such a loser.
I'll save my impression of what I saw inside the cave for my review, but let's just say that I was impressed with the place! I wish we could've gone deeper in the river system, but alas, it wasn't possible. So, we left the park, boarded our banca, and headed back to Sabang for lunch.
The trip back to PP seemed a bit shorter, or maybe we just didn't notice the time. We spent it mostly talking to Pam, or me having my autistic moments looking out the window and admiring Palawan's scenery which I couldn't get enough of. At around 6PM, we're back in PP and at our guesthouse, tired but happy.
Both Pam and our ancient guidebooks recommended a place called Kalui for dinner.
The place is supposedly known for fresh seafood, but since I'm not a fan, I ordered chicken instead (shut it, you). I forgot what Seb ordered, but I'm sure it's not a German dish. Anyway, I found the place to be nice and quiet enough for a good conversation over delicious food. I was also glad to see that there were more local (meaning Filipino) people there than foreigners, although there were quite a few of them. I guess I'm just one of the many Filipinos who doesn't want Palawan to be super-touristy and overdeveloped.
After dinner, Seb and I looked for a place to drink.
We walked back to our guesthouse by midnight. So far, so good!
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Sabang Sights & Attractions review
Keep Your Eyes Open and Your Mouths Closed!The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a must-see when one visits Palawan. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is also … read entire review