Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is located on the west coast of the central part of the Philippine island of Palawan, 260 kilometers from the resort region of El Nido and 80 km from the city of Puerto Princesa. Here the mountain range of St. Paul (Saint Paul Mountain).
Nature has created here an impressive gallery of karst caves, deepened into the bowels of the mountain for 24 kilometers. The height of the arches of the colossal halls reaches 60 meters, their width is up to 120 meters. This is where the underground river flows into the South China Sea. In its winding channel, waterfalls were discovered, tumbling down to yet unexplored depths.
Check this ultimate travel guide to Puerto Princesa Underground river in Palawan; get more details about tours and prices, what to see, how to get there and other important details for first time visitors.
Click this link if you would like to join day tour to Puerto Princessa Underground River.
When to visit the Puerto Princesa Underground River in Palawan
The best time to visit this Philippines island is during the dry season, between November and May. The chance of heavy rains from April to June is minimal. Puerto Princesa has a tropical climate. Heavy rains come in September, usually up to 210 mm of precipitation falls in this month.
The warmest months are March – May, the air temperature during these periods is kept at around +29 degrees. From November to February – the coldest months, the average temperature is + 23 degrees.
Features of the underground river in Palawan
The hidden river of Puerto Princesa has been known to the natives since ancient times, but it appeared long before primitive people arrived on the island of Palawan. The venerable age of the cave is indicated by fossils found under its vaults, formed at least 20 million years ago. At the mouth of the river, sea tides mix salt water with fresh water; a unique ecosystem of flora and fauna has developed here.
Only a small part of the underground labyrinths has been explored. In 2010, speleologists discovered here another giant cave 300 meters high.
In 1999, the Puerta Princesa Underground River National Park in the Philippines was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and in January 2012, according to the results of a global Internet survey, this location took its place in the list of the Seven New Natural Wonders of our planet.
Excursions on the Puerto Princesa River: what awaits the tourist
The starting point for excursions to the reserve is the town of Sabang. From here, tourists are delivered to the cave river by sea boats. The entrance is a huge triangular portal in a sheer cliff facing the sea. It is only accessible from the water. Here, travelers transfer to 8-seater rowing boats and go along the bed of a full-flowing underground river into the depths of the mountain. The guide, who is also the helmsman, tells the story in English. All comers are provided free of charge with stand-alone players with a multilingual audio guide (Russian is available).
Pitch darkness reigns in the cave, the beam of the lantern on the helmet of the helmsman snatches out of the darkness stalactites and stalagmites, bizarre rocks resembling the profiles of monsters and giants. When planning this adventure, be sure to purchase a powerful flashlight to take a closer look at the stunning cave interiors and capture them on video/photo.
The vaults of the dungeon are dotted with colonies of large bats. The air here is filled with specific smells. The boats sail along the channel for about a kilometer, then turn back to the mouth. The journey lasts 40-50 minutes.
What else to see in Palawan
The underground river is the key object of all the local wonders of nature, but this is far from all that can be seen on the island of Palawan. Groups of tourists go on hiking tours in the vast mountainous reserve of Puerto Princesa.
In the local tropical forests, there are up to 800 species of trees, among them there are real giants. 165 species of exotic birds have found shelter in the crowns. The sea coast is dotted with mangroves. Many animals live here, among them there are endemic species: Palawan porcupine, bear cats, turtles, monitor lizards, snakes.
Hiking to the filming locations of one of the blockbusters about the adventures of James Bond is popular. Fans of the movie series will certainly take selfies there.
A visit to the crocodile farm and the Iravgan Eco-Park will leave vivid impressions. You can have good fun in the Ugong Rock Adventure Park.
In the ethnographic village of aborigines, travelers get acquainted with the history and life of the indigenous population of Palawan, tasting of national dishes is also offered here, and souvenirs of the islanders are sold. The Palaweño Brewery is a great place to sample cold beers. This microbrewery is the only one in the country run by a woman.
Popular among tourists and an excursion to the river of fireflies on the island of Palawan . You can look at thousands of flickering lights as part of an organized group.
Visit the Olangoan Falls. Only a small number of foreign tourists know about this miracle of nature. It is located in Binduyan and is considered the most beautiful waterfall in the city. The road to the waterfalls will not take long. Be sure to take a dip in the cool turquoise water.