The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is made up of the Saint Paul mountain range, the famous Underground River, and karst landscape. The karst landscape is a mountainside bedrock made of limestone that has been dissolved and shaped by water. The unusual and interesting limestone formations, underground drainage system and caves were shaped for thousands of years as the South China Sea pounded on the Palawan mountainside.
This park, especially the underground river, is one of the most visited tourist spots in this part of the Philippines. Below are 5 reasons why you should come for a visit.
One, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This means it is one of the limited sites considered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee an “outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humankind”. By 2006, the Committee had identified only 830 sites from all over the world. It is the committee’s job to remind the heritage site home countries to preserve and maintain the sites, and the city government of Puerto Princesa is doing a good job at it. The subterranean river national park is the first national park that is successfully managed, sustained, and promoted by a local government unit in the Philippines. It is one of the best biodiversity conservation and sustainable tourism sites in the country. The park is generating an annual tourism income amounting to PHP 5 million (US$ 113,636), and this income is being used to maintain and manage the park.
Two, it is so beautiful it was nominated as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. From the thousands of natural wonders around the world, the list of nominees was narrowed to 216, then 77 and down to 28 finalists, in which the subterranean river national park was included, although it didn’t make the final cut.
Three, every tourist, nature lover and spelunker in the world must see the famous underground river in Palawan. Every local tourist knows about the river, and in fact many come to visit the picturesque island of Palawan primarily to see it. Officially named the Cabayugan River, it is considered to be the longest underground river in the world that may be navigated by tourists. In fact, only a few underground rivers are easily accessible by people. It is 8.2 km long, and features many unique cave formations and several huge chambers as wide as 120 meters and as high as 60 meters. The interesting subterranean river is just a part of the karst landscape, which includes pinnacles, shafts, dolines and cliffs.
Four, the forests are teeming with diverse plant and animal life forms. Roaming the forests and the waters around it are the endangered Palawan Peacock Pheasant, Palawan tree shrew, Palawan porcupine, Palawan stink badger, monitor lizard, dugong, and marine turtles. Also, inside the underground river caves are eight different species of bat.
And finally, visit the river to behold the interesting and strange stalactites and stalagmites. Some rock formations look like a man hanging, the Virgin Mary, the holy family, dinosaurs, angels, vegetables, and faces, to name a few.
So, when in the Philippines and anywhere near Palawan, make sure to check out the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. It is an hour away from Puerto Princesa City and a package tour costs only P1,500 (US$ 34.00).