The Puerto Princesa Underground River
The Puerto Princesa Underground River is around 8 kilometers and this portion of the Cabayugan River runs through an immense cave.
There are two tiers of river within the cave, and a ride down the river gives visitors spectacular views of waterfalls flowing from the top tier down to the lower main tier.
The cave itself offers huge stalactites and stalagmites formed over millions of years as mineral-rich water has dripped from the ceiling. One of the cave chambers – known as the Italian's Chamber – is one of the largest cave chambers in the entire world at 360 metres long and with a volume 2.5 million square metres.
The entire park area is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is due to the uniqueness of the underground river itself as well as the incredible bio-diversity of the surrounding area. In the underground river, there are species that only live in the dark and had been there for centuries.
The full sea-to-mountain ecosystem is one of the most unique on the planet. In 2012, the Puerto Princesa Underground River was officially named one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
When you go, look for the Palauan peacock pheasant, a specie that can only be found here.
7 Top Things to Do in Puerto Princesa
There is something for everyone in Puerto Princesa. But for the eco-tourist, there is so much more.
1. If you're looking for a more laid-back vacation, you can take advantage of the pristine, white-sand shorelines of Sabang, Panaguman and Marta Fe beaches.
2. Bird- and wildlife-watching is also a very popular activity, with guided tours available to help you catch a glimpse of the brightly colored parrots, pheasants, monkeys, lizards and more. The Ethnographic Museum – located at the park's visitor center – brings the diverse landscape and its history to life. Make sure you see the Philippine cockatoo.
3. If you're more of an adventure-seeker, the Underground River and surrounding area have plenty to offer. Hiking throughout the incredibly pristine wilderness surrounding the cave, visitors are treated to a specially-designed experience.
4. The hiking trails have been designed to take hikers throughout several forest formations, while observing the diverse wildlife and getting a workout. Quality hiking boots and plenty of drinking water – along with insect repellent – are recommended by local tourism officials.
5. Guided paddle-boat tours are also available through the thick mangrove swamps.
6. For the true thrill-seekers, adventure caving is an experience not to be missed.
7. Climbers enjoy Ugong Rock for spectacular views of the surrounding landscape, while traditional caving is available in the Lions' Cave, Kawili Cave and Daylight Hole.
Where to Stay in Puerto Princesa
Visitors have their choice when it comes to accommodations, from luxury resorts to rustic beach lodgings. Some choose to stay in Puerto Princesa, while others opt to be closer to the Underground River and surrounding wilderness by staying in Sabang.
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“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard