Thursday, January 10, 2013

palawan underground river tour

one of the highlights when visiting puerto princesa palawan is the underground river tour. the easiest and most convenient way to avail of the tour is through a travel operator. at least, that's the experience i had when i was there. of course, there is the option to DO-IT-YOURSELF, but i can't cover it here as i don't know how. the simplest explanation, hehe. for this, you have to allot one day in your itinerary. below is a run down of events that transpired during our tour.
upon our return to puerto princesa from el nido, we contacted a couple of tour operators in the city. if you didn't book a packaged tour, be on the lookout for leaflets at the airport. at the airport's tourism booth, there are many leaflets from different tour operators and hotels advertising about their business. so ensure that you grab a couple or two (or more, if you're a hoarder(=just want to have a lot of options) before you get out of the airport. our group picked up the tour offered by EMF travel agency for a fee of PhP1,300 per person(2008). standard fee as of writing is PhP1500 per person. our group zeroed in on EMF because of their promo at the time of travel, which was a free 1 hour body massage at your hotel after the tour. usually, your place of accommodation (er, its staff), can arrange for this. if they don't then just ask them to point out where the nearest travel operator is. if my memory, serves me - there are plenty of tour agencies along rizal avenue (emf, ellen's, one rover's place etc.) that said, let's get on with the picture run down.
Call Time: 7 A.M. at the apartelle. Travel time is roughly 2 to 2.5 hours from Puerto Princesa city to Sabang wharf - the jump off point to the underground river. If you can leave earlier, the better. That's because getting to the underground river is on a first come, first served basis. So, to cut on your waiting time - it is best to be there ahead of the other pack of tourists.
on the road to sabang. our van. our tour guide, sunshine from emf travel

a quick stop where sunshine secured our permit for the underground river tour. permit is included in the tour fee. i guess if you are going to DIY, this is one of the first things you need too: secure cave tour permit.
after 2.5 hours, we arrived at sabang wharf. here, the tour guide arranges for your 15-20 minute boat ride to the underground river. allow 15 to 20-minute waiting time for the ferry boat to take you to the underground river. boat ride is on a first come-first served basis. note that part of the tour is a quick stop at the buenavista viewing deck. depending on you, you can do the stop first, or do the cave tour and just do buenavista after. i recommend the latter. as i said, turn to go inside the cave is on a first come, first served basis.
sabang wharf. the jump off point of the underground river tour.

at the wharf, there's a makeshift booth where an in-charge takes note of guest arrivals. the tour guide coordinates with the in-charge for your group's boat ride. in the meantime, be creative on how you're going to kill time while waiting for your turn.

now it's our turn. the excited crew.

after more or less 15-minute boat ride, you'll arrive at this place.

you then walk a short distance along a forest trail until you arrive at the boat dock near the mouth of the cave. oh, be careful of the monkeys.

upon arrival at the boat dock, you need to register. this is done to monitor who are going inside the cave. here you will be given life vests, helmets, and quick reminders on the rules of the cave tour. turn to go in is on a first come, first served basis. then, your river tour starts. you'll be on the banca the whole time. no swimming allowed.

after more or less 45 minutes, you get out of the cave, and be greeted by other tourists waiting for their turn. i wish i could show you more pix, but then that would ruin the surprise and mystery of the cave. NAH. i just didn't have a kick ass camera. all my pictures were plain poor :(

this ends the underground river tour. we came out of the cave a little after 11 A.M., just in time for lunch. so, hop back into the boat to proceed to the lunch prepared for you - a topic which i will cover in the next post. oh, said lunch is included in the tour fee.

THANKS FOR VISITING!!! i'd appreciate to hear your thoughts or comments, especially updates as mine happened in 2008

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