I love visiting places that divulge information about mankind or nature or both! So when I read about the underground river tour in the Philippines, my interest was piqued and I knew I had to visit this place! In fact, my entire trip to the Philippines was actually centred around visiting the underground river and I carefully chose the place, travel and dates to make sure I could visit this place!
The underground river is a subterranean River National Park located in a protected area of Philippines about 80 km from Puerto Princesa. We took a shared tour from Puerto Princesa to visit this river. We were picked up from our hotel at around 9 AM. We were the first ones to be picked up. The driver/tour guide then picked up a few other couples from other hotels. It took us about one and an hour to reach Sabang.
The port at Sabang has a seating area where tourists wait for their turns to visit the island. This is done to restrict the number of humans who visit this place since it is ecologically fragile. I was very impressed with the care taken to keep this place as pristine as possible. While we waited our turn, we had some ice cream while the tour guide acquired permits for our visit using our identification (passports).
When it was our turn, we boarded a boat that took us to the island which houses the subterranean river. This journey was about 20 minutes and the beach where we landed was gorgeous in itself! A short hike later we were at the entrance of the river.
Since this is a subterranean river, the ecology, which includes life forms as well as rock formations are very different from what we generally see. We were asked to maintain silence inside the river to not disturb the animals and birds inside the caves. We were each given pre-recorded tourist recordings which we heard while inside the river.
The sheer beauty and ecology is something that is out of this world! It is no wonder that in 2011, this place was included in one of the new 7 wonders of the world! In fact, in 2010 scientists found a second floor to these caves meaning there was so much more to be still discovered! Deeper areas of the river are impossible to discover due to chances of oxygen deprivation and a precarious chance of damaging the rocks forever.
After the tour, we were taken for lunch at nearby restaurants where the tour guide collected the money which we owed him. Frankly, for the experience I had, I would say the price was completely justifiable. Here are the details of the tour guide in case you want to reach out to them when you are in Puerto Princesa: https://www.kalokairitravels.com/
I would recommend you make sure you visit this place when in the Philippines to gain what I did- perspective! We are specks in the world. Visiting this beautiful place gave me perspective into the importance of maintaining nature's balance to ensure the survival of all species.