Day Tour to the Underground River a World Hertiage Site
Rise and shine
Up early at 5am and ready to go. Then waiting and more waiting. The commute van didn’t leave until 8:30am or later. The transport company’s vehicle was old and very uncomfortable. I was in the need to the back row and thought I was going to get sick from the van swinging around on the road. The AC didn’t work very well. The return trip was not any better in the same van with the same driver. Enough about the transport. On to Sabang.
Sabang Port is the departure point to go to the Underground River Park. It was about a twenty minute boat ride to the underground river beach. The park ferry service boats only carry up to six people. Usually here in the Philippines they she how many people they can crowd on a boat. I had the sense that someone was concerned about visitor safety. This also spread the income from the ferry service to more families.
Underground River Beach
a beautiful beach full of arriving, waiting, and departing canoes. Great photo opp. Later I found you could follow the each to where the underground river emptied into the ocean. It reminded me of where stream from the Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden emptied into the ocean at Allerton’s Lawai Kai Garden,
Walk Through the Jungle
From the beach the park has installed a boardwalk to protect the forest floor. It is one of few places in the Philippines that has not been raped of it’s forest trees. There is a troop of monkeys that inhabits the forest been we didn’t see them. Before departing Sabang port we were told not to take any plastic bags along as the monkeys think there is food in plastic bags.
Waiting your turn
At the end of the boardwalk was the launching beach to board the paddle canoes for the trip inside the cave to the Underground River. Our transport was a low canoe where we sat two by two just like on the ark. Before the canoe push off there was extensive picture taking by a park vendor hoping to sale you pictures as you leave the park in this age of digital cameras. I didn’t see many people stopping to look for their picture. The picture taking also helps in spacing the canoes apart. It was about an hours wait from the time we arrive at the Underground River launching beach so everyone was taking time for photo opps and selfies. There were numerous photogenic opportunities, trees, the cave and river background, the beach, and picturesque gnarled trees and branches.
Inside the Underground River
It’s difficult to take good pictures in the bat cave. Best pictures were of oncoming boats.
The boatman’s narrative
It is a fine turned act. All in English and full of witty remarks and commentary. The boatman was in the back paddling and who ever seat in the front seat got to hold the spotlight following the boatman’s ques up,up, left, left, left, hold. Etc. during the 45 minute trip he told of the history, 5.4 km length, about bats, bat quano, what they have named the various formations – religious formations, market vegetables, brains and more.
Transport between Sabang Port and Underground River Beach
Because of heavy tourist visitation to the Underground River, transportation by sea canoe is scheduled and timed due to a visitation schedule. We waited at the departure terminal in Sabang after confirming the tour tickets which were actually purchased in Puerto Princesa. Then we queued again at the Underground River for the paddle boat Underground River tour. Just the process at Underground River.
Following the Underground River tour we took advantage of a buffet lunch at 200 pesos per person at Sabang Port. There was 200 peso penalty if you left food on your plate. It was a good assortment rice, Bihol pan it, fried rice, Hong Kong style pancit, vegetable lumpia, adobo chicken, pork menudo, mixed vegetables, squash and beans, and more.