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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Puerto Princesa Underground River and Ugong Rock Adventures

It was lovely and sunny on my second day in Puerto Princesa. I woke up early to prepare for my Underground River (UR as the locals call it) Tour. Pick-up time from my guesthouse is at 8:00 AM. How convenient. After having breakfast with a British fellow guest, I stayed at the hammock outside while waiting for my tour van.

My tour was organized by my beau. As I mentioned in my first entry, he'd been there too many times already so he has made friends with a local tour driver there Kuya Roy. He was the one who got me into a tour, hassle-free. :) Contact details at the end of this series.

They arrived a little later than 8:00 AM. I was the second guest they fetched so I got a great seat, just next to the driver. Ate Malou (our tour guide for the day) greeted me warmly and politely asked if I'm the one she's looking for. Excited as I was, I just smiled and immediately hopped in to the van. We just fetch a couple from another inn then we're off to Sabang.

I was constantly in awe with Palawan. Two years ago, I was in Coron (Northernmost Palawan) and was astounded by it. Now I am being overwhelmed again by it's natural beauty.

Palawan is wonderful from plains to underwater!

We stopped a couple of times for some photos. The first one was in Ulugan Bay View Point where you can see the Ulugan Bay panorama consisting of nearby islands of Tres Marias. Nothing but the colors of nature!

the colors of Palawan

Then we also stopped at the back of Mount St. Paul mountain range. Ate Malou said, beneath that marble and limestone ridges, lies the subterranean river.

would have been better if "he" was not there haha!

We reached Sabang Port (the jump-off point to Underground River) after two hours. It was perfectly fine with me because the views are scenic. Also, Ate Malou did a good job of entertaining us hehe. Ask her everything you want to know about Palawan, you'll get an above satisfactory answer. As in.

the quiet charm of Sabang

While our tour guide was processing the permits and arranging our boat service, we had our buffet lunch at a seaside restaurant. It was included in our tour package. The menu is just limited but it was fine as long as we have too much to eat (quantity-wise).

my lunch for the day

After a couple of hours, we were transported to the island where the Underground River is. It was a 20-30 minute boat ride. The views going there are already fantastic.

limestone formations over turquoise waters

I have three tour mates. A couple from Leyte, Erica and Hubert and a solo fella from CA, Kelly. I'm so thankful to Erica for taking my photos. Hehe.


Our schedule to enter the cave was 2:30 PM. When arrived, we are 12th on the queue. We still have some time to kill so we explored around a little bit and took photos here and there.

this is it! :)

There are huge mangrove trees on the left side. I'm glad that this natural setting has never been touched.

lovely trees

Further on the left side, there was a beach. It very much seemed like a virgin island.

indeed a natural wonder

Finally, our turn had come. A tour guide approached if it's okay to let his solo guest join our boat. The boat's capacity is 6 pax, so it was fine. So, the Brit guy sat beside me.

ready to explore :)

paddling closer

I don't have a lot of photos inside the cave. My camera kind of sucked. It won't allow me to take good photos in the dark! Must be the settings. I just got it for two months that time, so I'm still getting used to it. I guess I should be tinkering it more. Maybe it was me who sucked, hahaha!

random limestone formation inside

The atmosphere inside is a little creepy because it was cold and damp and of course dark! But our boatman/guide had some jokes that made it feel lighter.


I admit, I didn't enjoy it that much. Maybe because it was less adventurous for me. You know, you just sat at the boat and looked at the interesting formations around you. Ho hum... I love cave spelunking! I like the thrill of rocking climbing, trying to insert yourself in holes you never imagined you'd fit and being able to touch what interests you. That was my type of fun. Still, this was an awesome experience and it deserves to be called a world wonder of nature.

behind this paradise is the underground river

We have three other companions who came from Sabang directly. Their schedule for the cave was 3:30 PM which is an hour behind us. We were transported back to Sabang as soon as we finished our turn and was instructed by our tour guide to just wait from there. My tour mates and I looked for the best place to eat halo-halo. We needed to be refreshed, it was a hot boat ride back. We convinced Kelly (our American mate) to try the halo-halo but he wants the ice scramble! Haha! We exchanged stories as we ate our halo-halos and ice scramble.

The second batch has finally arrived. Ate Malou asked us if we wanted to do a side trip to Ugong Rock. It's on our way back anyway and we still have time. Good thing my tour mates were all game for it. Oh how I love adventurous people haha! After a while, we were pulling over Ugong Rock.

We were gladly met by the locals manning the place. After a brief talk, we were asked if we want to do some caving. Of course, I do! I was so glad, my tour mates wanted to do it too. So, it was the four of us again. We were geared up right away and off we went.

let's rock it! :)

We were guided by an Ate (sorry, I forgot her name). She told us stories about the place and their life as a community. She told us how the Lopezes were helping them with their livelihood. They used to be miners and they were given livelihood projects instead for income. It's nice to know that they stopped mining and now understood the importance of mother nature. By the way, I signed to the no to mining signature campaign that they have there in Palawan.

my mates Erica and Hubert

It was an easy one. They already put stairs and ropes in the steep parts of the cave. Climbing had been effortless. It is not totally enclosed so it is also dry. But of course, it is still tiring.

let's go up! :)

The reason why it is called Ugong Rock is because these rock formations produce a certain sound when you tap it. It's pretty cool! :)

The Ugong Rock

Our guide saw that I was wearing Mojo slippers. I found out that the owner of these outdoor footwear brand Joey Cuerdo is also the owner of the Ugong Rock Zipline. Interesting fact.

my pink Mojo :)

The end of spelunking trail is at the top of the cliff where the zipline is. So the easy way down would be to do the zipline which lasts less than a minute. Otherwise, you have to trek back down the cave. Only Kelly chose to do the easy way. The rest of us, well we burned more calories haha!

at the top!

Even though it was an easy one, I still enjoyed it! I had fun with my mates. The people there were also very thankful to us which made me extra happy. They say the fees being charged to the visitors goes straight to their community fund so we helped them by visiting their place. Aww. One thing I loved about traveling is being able to help random people you meet.

I totally had a blast on my second day there. I will never forget this experience. It was my first time to go traveling alone locally and my first time to join a group tour on my own too. Never thought it could be this fun!

This is Part 2 of my Puerto Princesa travel series.

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