Underground River tour in Puerto Princesa

After being at home in the cold for a week, we were keen to get back to the sunshine. On Sunday 13th November we flew from Heathrow to Doha, Doha to Manila, then Manila to Puerto Princesa and got trike to our hostel Travel Lite. When we got there we were shocked at the cell-like room we had been given - no windows, one very small double bed and no light switch inside the room. The closest place to get some food was apparently a shopping centre called NCCC Mall, so we did the short walk there to get some lunch. There was a large supermarket or a small buffet style restaurant/cafe. We decided to order some bits from there as we didn’t have a kitchen in our hostel to cook anything. As there’s not much to do in Puerto Princesa town, we chilled for the afternoon on the wifi doing some research and sleeping. We met a couple called Jonny and Louise (Scottish and English) who were doing the Puerto Princesa underground river tour the next day and catching the minibus to El Nido afterwards the trip as we were. We got talking and later walked to the shopping centre again to get some dinner and snacks for the long drive tomorrow.

The next day we had been told by the hostel staff members to get up early as we were getting picked up at 6:30am to do the underground river tour. However, once we were up we were told that we would actually get picked up between 7:30am and 8am. Sure enough the mini bus picked us up and hour later than we had anticipated. The drive to the underground river only took about an hour, and we stopped off at a small viewpoint with a few shops to buy food and a toilet if you needed it. Once we got to the main office of the tour, we had to wait to get a medium sized wooden boat from the shore over to a random beach which you then walk across to get to the cave entrance of the underground river.

The trip was amazing. The caves that enclose the underground river were so beautiful and diverse. The shapes and patterns that they made were incredible and the cave was home to a ridiculous amount of small and large bats. (Unfortunately the pictures didn't come out well in the cave so we can't show you).

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Also known as the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, the natural wonder has a second floor (which means that there are small waterfalls inside the cave) a cave dome measuring 300m high, limestone rock formations of stalactites and stalagmites, a deep water hole in the river, and a huge variety of marine creatures. It has one of the largest cave chambers in the world and was chosen as one of the New7Wonders of Nature in January 2012. As you are exploring the caves in your small wooden rowing boats, your guide shines his torch on parts of the cave whilst you’re listening to an audio cassette providing you with information about the unusual underground river. It was truly amazing and we would recommend anyone who goes to Puerto Princesa to do this tour. (There’s not much else to do there anyway!)

After the tour we then had a 4-5 hour minibus ride to El Nido. We arrived at our accommodation Lualhati Garden Cottages about 6:30pm, had a shower and got ready to go for dinner on the beach. We had an awful Carbonara each but the rum and cokes were going down so well that we enjoyed a few more then walked along the beach to a bar with a band and a mix of locals and tourists having a dance and a laugh.

So of course the next day was a complete write off! Nat had one of the worst hangovers she’s had before. (She ended up drinking beers which she hates so no wonder!) We slept in until gone 3pm when Jordan went out to get something to eat and Natalie had some more sleep! Later that evening we met Louise and Jonny for some pizza in a small restaurant down one of the alleyways near the beach. The pizza was delicious - stone baked and really generous portion sizes. We had a chat and played some cards before going back to our hotel.