The Underground river tour

Day 47, Sunday 12 Feb, Puerto Princesa, Sabang – Underground River

The prime reason I chose too come to Puerto Princesa (PP) was to visit the underground river near Sabang. The underground river has been nominated for selection as one of the new seven wonders of the world and is a protected national park. Sabang and the park are accessible by self travel, but you have to get a permit to visit the underground river. The cost to do an organised tour is virtually the same as doing it yourself so I elected to have the hostel organise me to join a tour. I got the last free spot in the next four days!  However, as you will read, I am not sure if it was a good or bad thing. Two others from the hostel managed to visit themselves as they missed out on tours.

The day started well, nice omelette for breakie and chatting with the others in the hostel until the van arrived forty five minutes late, a Korean and his Philippine girlfriend were the only other occupants so we paid a visit to two hotels to pick up the rest of the people on the tour. I am not going to say much about them here, I will just say through their foul mouthed, hung over, racist, sexual explicit comments and whinging they ruined my day. With an almost two hour bus ride there and back and a full day at a cool place, I was really hoping for a good bunch of people to share the experience with.

Yes, it was another one of those days, and before this post sounds like a whinge fest, I will say the place was awesome and I highly recommend it, my experience would have been more interesting if I was not effectively, on my own.

We stopped a couple of times on the way to Sabang for a site see and to allow at least one of my fellow van passengers the chance to bring up lasts night binging on the road side.  Me looking like I was not really enjoying myself !

We reached Sabang at 11.30 and were advised by our tour guides that our permits were for entering the park at 3.30, this was not particularly amusing as this meant I had four hours to kill in a one horse bullock town on my own. They did offer to sell us a couple of sub-tours to help pass the time – I hate that crap !  Lunch was at 12.30 so I went exploring and I soon found the bullock.

Actually there was more than one.

The beach is quite nice though!

After lunch we went up to the Sabang ‘wharf’ area to wait for our outrigger canoe to take us to the park itself. The outriggers are an extremely common form of transport in the Philippines, unlike Borneo where the boats were all outboard driven, these are all in board diesel motors. I snapped this awesome jeepney.

The journey from the wharf takes about half an hour and we were deposited on another nice stretch of beach where killed another hour milling around pointlessly.

I did see some more macaques – and one stole an Italian womens scarf and took it up a tree, which was amusing for everyone else!  She did get it back though when the monkey dropped it. Also saw a small monitor lizard, my first.

And finally after a few failed attempts, some socks and sandals – yes !

The cave is entered in 10 person canoes. The ride is about 45 minutes long and we went about 1.5km into the system and back out again. The river itself is 8.5 km long. The photos from inside were rubbish, so none here.  The cave was pretty cool, would love to spend some time in there in a kayak exploring some of the side caves and getting further up river. Lots of bats and swiftlets just like the cave systems in Borneo.

After the river ride we boated back to Sabang and back to PP in the van, the rednecks were not quite so bad on the way back, but I was glad to breathe some clean fresh air at the end of the trip. A good day ruined by bad people, shame.

I had a great dinner of eggplant pasta in the hostel and had a couple of large rums while chatting to a Finnish guy and a Dutch women – so many nationalities met. Love that about hostels. A quite night as I have a long van ride to el Nido tomorrow.