New 7 Wonders of Nature: Puerto Princesa Underground River
Aerial and interior shots of the Underground River courtesy of La Venta Geographical Expedition.
On November 11, 2011, the Puerto Princesa Underground River was hailed one of the world’s New 7 Wonders of Nature.
The Swiss foundation New7Wonders mobilized a massive campaign where people from all over the world could vote for the most amazing and biodiverse destinations on earth.
440 destinations were cast, which were later trimmed down to 77 and then to 28 finalists.
It was a hard and brutal battle, but the PPUR made it through.
Watch the story of the PPUR:
With over 20 million votes, the Puerto Princesa Underground River got in the list of the top seven, alongside other world-class natural destinations such as Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay and Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest and River.
The Puerto Princesa Underground River is located in the sprawling Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, about two-hours drive from the city center.
The National Park itself is so huge it’s about 80% of the land area of the entire Honolulu, Hawaii.
The main distinguishing feature of the park, the Underground River is located next to the open West Philippine Sea.
Water from the surrounding karst limestone mountain range seeped into the cracks and crevices, slowly shaping watering holes, tunnels, and underground rivers over a span of 30 million years.
30 million years. Yup, this place is as old as dinosaurs.
The Underground River spans a bewildering 8.2 kilometers, which would take half a day to reach by paddle boat from end to end.
Only the first half of the Underground River is open to the public, however, because the deeper regions have limited oxygen.
Along the Underground River, you’d see various intriguing stalactite and stalagmite formations, most of which will be pointed out with a lamplight by your tour guide.
And with a special permit, you can go on an extended tour and even see crystals and minerals never seen before in other places in the world.
These new cave minerals include serrabrancaite, robertsite, and janggunite.
Other notable minerals and crystals in the Underground River include calcite, gypsum, apatite, variscite, strengite, manganite, rhodochrosite, and pyrolusite.
There’s even a 20-year-old bone fossil of a sea cow (locally known as dugong) on a wall, along with other bone fossils in different areas.
Meanwhile, the forests that surround the Underground River and the St. Paul Mountain Range are some of the most diverse in Palawan and in the Philippines.
Out of all the 13 types of forests found in Asia, eight are found in the National Park alone.
There are over 1,300 types of plant and animal species in the area, with bird species outnumbering everything else.
It’s a bird-lovers’ haven. You can do some birdwatching with a local tour guide too.
It’s a great introduction to Palawan’s most biodiverse landscapes. Book your tour today with Puerto Princesa’s oldest and leading tour service provider.