Palawan, PPUR, and the Anti-Littering Law
Tagged as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, the Puerto Princesa Underground River or PPUR as it is often called now is a real proof of the wonderful things that only time can create. Taking thousands to millions of years to be what it is today, PPUR contains many stalactites and stalagmites that has formed familiar and mysterious structures.
Taking the tour at PPUR is one of the highlights of our Palawan trip. Though it took 2 hrs hours by van from the center of Puerto Princesa, about 20 minutes boat ride to the island, and an hour of waiting for a turn to ride the boats going inside the underground river just to be blanketed by darkness, what I’ve learned is truly phenomenal.
During our boat ride, I spotted two men at sea. I realized how tiny we are as we travel on top of the vast blue sea. Emo mode on.
Visiting PPUR is strictly controlled by the local government. You need to book for a permit in order to be allowed to go to the island where the underground river is located. From what I have researched, it is best to get your permit months before your trip because there are many tourists who were not able to visit PPUR because they were not granted permit when applying for it only a few days before. Even if you’re willing to make an extra payment, which is bad btw.
Checking of permits is done at the Sabang Port, which is the gateway to PPUR.
I highly recommend you get your permit a couple of months before especially if you plan to go to PPUR during peak season (normally December to May, October too since it is sembreak in most universities and colleges). And if you apply for a PPUR permit, make sure you give the name on your ID. Yup, you need to present an ID before boarding a boat to PPUR. I encountered a minor problem here since I applied as “KC Canlas” and my ID had “Katrina Canlas”. I got interrogated for about 5 minutes just to prove my identity. Chalking that to experience.
In March 26, 1971, the Puerto Princesa Underground River was designated as a National Park covering 3,901 has. but it was amended in November 16, 1999 to cover 22,202 has. In December 4, 1999, PPUR became part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. And this year, last January 28, 2012, it was recognized as 1 of the 7 Wonders of Nature. PPUR is something that we should be proud off so go see it and let’s do our parts in preserving it.
PPUR covers 8.2 kilometers of river flowing directly to the sea. But the tour only covers 1.4 kilometers because the remaining part requires walking, swimming, and spelunking. Furthermore, the air gets thinner as you go deep into the cave so special gears are required. Only geologists and other experts are allowed to go beyond the 1.4 kilometer mark.
The whole tour lasts 45 minutes to an hour. Small boats that are manually driven by a bangkero/tour guide are used to explore the underground river. About 8 to 10 people can fit per batch. Tour guides are trained for 3 months before they embark on their own. They are physically fit because they manually maneuver the boat in and out of the underground river. The script of the tour is really amusing. The darkness may be scary but it is relieved by the lines delivered by the tour guide.
Safety is a priority in PPUR. Tourists are required to wear a helmet and a life vest for the duration of the tour.
I tried my best to take the best snaps that I can. I even fought for a seat in front of the boat and I got it. There are 2 passengers per seat and either of the 2 people seating in front of the boat is assigned to hold the light. The tour guide will instruct the light bearer about the direction of the light.
After everyone got seated, we begin to enter the underground river. Claustrophobic peeps, fight the fear!
They said there are more or less 50 small boats touring inside the underground river. So we ran into other tourists as we went around the underground river.
It’s really super dark inside. Without the light in front, you will not see anything. And we were also moving. So taking pictures of stalactites and stalagmites was filled with utter blurriness. Maybe you can pay it a visit and see them for yourself.
We finished our tour at around noon but as we were going out of the underground river, we can still see lots of people waiting for their turn.
After going back at Sabang Beach, we had a buffet lunch waiting for us. I did not like it that much so I would not delve much into it. Good thing I had the fresh memories of PPUR that time to get me by. And we had tamilok again at Sabang Beach. It tasted fresher compared to the one I had in Kinabuchs.
On the way back to the city center, we were allowed to take pictures near Karst Mountain Elephant Cave. There are no elephants here. I think the name from the shape of the cave.
Just a short run-down of the things to keep in mind when visiting PPUR:
- Get you PPUR permit. A couple of months before your trip if possible.
- Bring ID. Make sure your name on the permit is the same with the ID.
- Wear comfy clothes like this one hot momma. Wear shorts if possible because there’s a slight chance of getting wet.
- Never litter in PPUR. Or anywhere. Like ever. In Palawan, you can get free accommodations at the penitentiary if you get caught littering.
- Wear mosquito repellant. Mosquitoes inside the underground river are ginormous.
- Don’t carry around plastic bags when in PPUR. There are monkeys who get attracted to plastic bags and might nab them from you. And again, they are trash.
- Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Spread nothing but awesomeness. Unfortunately, someone still left this. Please don’t be that someone. Be better.
- Don’t feed the animals.
- Swimming is not allowed in PPUR.
- When inside the underground cave, don’t open your mouth when you look up. There lots of bats hanging/sleeping on the ceiling (peeing and pooping).
Our visit in the Puerto Princesa Underground River is part of our accommodation/tour package from Hibiscus Garden Inn. It costs PhP 6,250 per person and this tour is just one chunk of the package.
I had an amazing time at PPUR. The tour brought me back to the classroom, but a way better classroom. The learning process is more fun and there is so much hands-on experience. The rich history of PPUR will certainly amaze anyone. It really is “More Fun in the Philippines”.
Underground River Booking Office
No. 350 Rizal Avenue, Bgy. Bancao-bancao
Puerto Princesa City 5300, Philippines
Telephone Number: +63(48)7230904 (Sabang)
E-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Spread some awesome..ness..