WHS: Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River, Philippines

A couple hours south of El Nido by van, our next Philippines visit was to a rare double crown of travel lists — both a World Heritage Site and a New 7 Wonder Of Nature — the world’s longest navigable underground river:

Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park

 

Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park encompasses 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. It is located in the south-western part of the Philippine Archipelago on the mid western coast of Palawan, approximately 76 km northwest of Puerto Princesa and 360 km southwest of Manila.

The property, comprising an area of approximately 22,202 ha, contains an 8.2km long underground river. The highlight of this subterranean river system is that it flows directly into the sea, with its brackish lower half subjected to tidal influence, distinguishing it as a significant natural global phenomenon. The river’s cavern presents remarkable, eye catching rock formations. The property contains a full mountain-to-sea ecosystem which provides significant habitat for biodiversity conservation and protects the most intact and noteworthy forests within the Palawan biogeographic province. Holding the distinction of being the first national park devolved and successfully managed by a local government unit, the park’s effective management system is a symbol of commitment by the Filipino people to the protection and conservation of their natural heritage…

We recommend you visit this one with an organized tour from Puerto Princesa — there’s a sharply limited number of tickets a day, and you need apparently to be there very early indeed and have a good deal of luck to get one independently…

… and if you do that, well you still have to join the group tour boats into the park itself,

Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River, Philippines

… so might as well just go with the group tour and save yourself a bunch of hassle.

Once those boats ferry you there, then you have the queue for the rowboats that enter the cave itself, which is located in a very pretty lagoon:

Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River, Philippines

And the inside, well you need a lot better equipment than we have to get any usable pictures from skittering flashlights from a rocking boat, this is pretty much the only one that’s even focus:

Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River, Philippines

but the video above gives you a view of what it’s like entering the cave…

… including how busy it is, even with the limited entry. So this is not exactly an oasis of untouched solitude, even with an efficient tour group organizing things it’s a whole day of busing and waiting and boating and waiting for your 45-minute-odd underground row.

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p dir=”ltr”>But hey, there’s nowhere else in the world quite like this, and that’s our second last Wonder of Nature — just Komodo to go now! — so all the tourists are just what you have to put up with, go see it now before it’s even more popular!

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Alex Curylo

Alex

I go places.

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  1. […] Puerto Princesa in the southwest Philippines, our next stop was over by Davao in the southeast; not the most […]

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