How to be a Responsible Tourist in the Underground River in Palawan?

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan is home to the famous underground river in the Philippines. Originally Known as St. Paul Underground River, Puerto Princessa Underground River is today one of the 7 wonders of Nature. This was officially declared by the prestigious UN Organization, UNESCO. Located in Puerto Princesa, very little information is known about the prime tourist spot until 1999 when the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) saw it fit to declare the Puerto Princesa Park a World Heritage Site. Three years later, The Park’s popularity was given another big boost when Puerto Princessa Underground River (located at the National Park) was voted as one of the 7 wonders of nature in 2012.

At the Northern part of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is the scenic Karst landscape (a landscape formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks mostly limestone, dolomite and gypsum) while the Southern portion is the famous underground river of Puerto Princesa. Considered to be the second longest underground river in the world the river showcases various exotic flora and fauna which until today is being protected by global environmental organizations. The tourist site is mostly composed of limestone that completely enhances the park’s lush natural environment.

It is quite comforting to note that until today, the national park is directly being managed and carefully maintained by the local government of Puerto Princesa including privately owned local and foreign foundations. A few months after the UNESCO declared Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park a world heritage park, a known environmental organization named International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN suggested to the Philippine Government that the park’s jurisdictions be expanded for the purpose of facilitating more feasible conservation area. The suggestion was acted upon and in 1993 and the Palawan local government along with the National Government enacted a law expanding the original core area of the park from 5,753 hectares to 33,000 hectares.

To get to the underground river of Puerto Princesa, you need to travel for two hours from your original point of origin. The ride is bumpy until you reach Sabang Port which is jumping point to the underground river park. If you have a bad stomach for bumpy road ride, you can take a 3 hour boat ride from Bahile town to Sabang Port. The Park is full of caves that showcase various rock formations of Stalagmites and stalactites. The Park is also famous for its biodiversity conservation habitat but more importantly, the presence of the parks full mountain to sea ecosystem. It is the only park in the world that houses 8 of the 13 types of tropical Asian Forests known to man. These are limestone soil forest, freshwater swamp forest, ultramafic soil forest, lowland evergreen tropical rainforest, beach forest, montane forest and mangrove.ceoec.ru

The park is truly a wonder (and truly a continuing miracle) of nature and therefore should be kept in its pristine condition at all cost. This is why tourists and visitors alike are encourage to do their share in maintaining the status of this park by following few simples rules when visiting this wondrous beauty of nature.

First avoid using or bringing any kind of plastic inside the park. Everyone knows that plastic is a major environmental hazard and has been known to be very toxic to soil and water. What is worst is that plastic are at times ingested by various life forms causing them harm and in many cases death. Second, be very responsible with your trash. If possible, hold on to them until you reach a place where you can properly dispose them. Third, when visiting the park, never deviate from the main trail. Never take shortcuts or make your own path. Doing so may affect the natural process of erosion or worst; destroy living organism residing on the park. You must remember that most species living here are already on the endangered list. Fourth, take nothing but pictures. Some of you may be tempted to take something from the park like plants, shells or even small living things. Aside from it being an illegal act it may very well contribute to the destabilization of the natural processes existing inside the park. Finally, do not touch or feed the wildlife you meet or encounter along the way. You will surely meet lots of these along the trail. Believe it or not, it would be kinder not to touch or feed them than do otherwise. Also it’s a lot safer for you to keep a good distance from them. Just enjoy looking at them from a safe distance and just take their pictures as a souvenir of your trip. Puerto Princessa Subterranean River National Park is only one of the few parks in the world that continue to give us hope that mother nature can still be saved from the destruction of man. So it is important for us try and keep this parks as what nature has intended it to be.

For those who are more comfortable travelling alone, there are several things that you should consider when visiting the park and its underground river. The most important thing is for you to know your way around the tourist site. Even as a first timer your first responsibility to yourself is to research extensively on the tourist routes around the park. This is of course to ensure your physical safety. Aside from this, being familiar with the surroundings will protect you from people who usually take advantage of tourists. Second always listen to your intuition. Always rely on your instinct so if you feel that there is danger lurking around, turn back and re-visit the area some other day. The most important thing to secure your safety as a tourist is not to look like one. When travelling alone, try not look like an outsider. You will be an easy victim to scammer once they see that you are not at all familiar with the place. These are some of the things for you to consider in order being a responsible and safe tourist in Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park or any other tourist spots for that matter.

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