BREATHTAKING. Tourists aboard boats at the entrance of the Puerto Princesa Underground River. All photos by Mara Cepeda/Rappler
PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines – Discover the hidden wonders of the Puerto Princesa Underground River, an 8.2-kilometer subterranean body of water hailed as one of the new 7 wonders of the world.
The UNESCO World Heritage website describes it as “one of the world’s most impressive cave systems, featuring spectacular limestone karst landscapes, pristine natural beauty, and intact old-growth forests and distinctive wildlife.”
A 10-minute boat ride from the Sabang beach port in Puerto Princesa City will bring you to the entrance beach of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.
The national park is home to about 800 plant, 165 bird, 19 reptile, 30 mammal, and 9 bat species. Just outside the cave’s entrance, tourists can snap photos with monitor lizards and Macaque monkeys roaming around. (READ: Palawan's protected areas at the crux of debate on proposed law)
Before entering the cave, guests are given life vests, helmets, and an audio device, which will play a guided tour track during the cave visit.
Only about 4 kilometers of the cave is navigable by boat, but tourists will be able to see stunning formations of stalactites and stalagmites inside. These form familiar shapes like the head of a dinosaur, Pegasus, and even the face of Jesus.
One passage inside the cave known as "The Cathedral," has rock formations called The Giant Candle, the Holy Family, and even a group of disciples during the Last Supper.
Another cave passage features rock formations that are shaped like fruits and vegetables.
The underground river is also home to thousands of bats and several species of small birds and fish.
Guests are prohibited from touching the cave walls to prevent disturbing the ecosystem. Flash photography is also strictly prohibited.
Bookings can be done through the official Puerto Princesa Underground River website. A tour for adults cost P2,200, while the fee is P1,500 for children aged 3 to 7 years old. The tour is free for children two years and below.
The tour includes all entrance and terminals fees, a buffet lunch, an air-conditioned van, boat transportation, pick-up and drop-off services at the guests’ accommodation within Puerto Princesa City, and a licensed tour guide.