7 Natural Wonders of the World - Philippines
7 Natural Wonders
The seven natural wonders of the world are chosen by the public from a vote. A natural wonder needs to be statistically and/or naturally unique. Statistical factors that come into play may include characteristics such as height, width, and volume however the focus is on uniqueness, beauty and amazement. The votes are held by the New7Wonders initiative, which started in 2007. It was led by Canadian-Swiss Bernard Weber and is a Swiss-based foundation. Being the adventure traveler that I am naturally I am attracted to these pristine locations. While I was touring Southeast Asia in 2012 I was lucky enough to be in the vicinity of a proposed natural wonder and had to make the journey to see it.The Subterranean Underground River located just off the island of Palawan in the Philippines was nominated and selected to be one of the new seven wonders. Located 360 miles southwest of Manila, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is one of the most distinguished and protected areas of the Philippines. The park boasts a 8.2 km long underground river that flows directly to the sea and is directly affect by the ocean tides. The current voted upon 7 natural wonders of the world are as follows:
- South America's Amazon rain forest
- Iguazu Falls of the Brazilian State of Paraná and the Argentine Province of Misiones
- Halong Bay in Vietnam
- The Philippines' Puerto Princesa Underground River
- South Korea's Jeju Island
- Indonesia's Komodo Island
- South Africa's Table Mountain
Entering the CaveClick thumbnail to view full-size
Subterranean Underground River
The Boat boat ride to the Subterranean Underground River takes about thirty minutes from the main land and provides amazing scenic views of cascading mountains and volcano's. They only bring so many people a day to view the underground river so it is imperative that you sign up with a tour group as soon as you arrive in Puerto Princesa. It does not cost very much however there are a few fees that they don't tell you about so make sure to always have a little extra on you. After your tour bus takes you to the harbor where you will board a boat you must pay another $10 here as a park pass. The boat will pull up to a sandy beach surrounded by carved limestone hills. Your guide at this point will lead you a long a wooded path through the jungle. Here you will see monkeys swinging from the trees and giant lizards basking in the sun. Giant prehistoric looking trees line the walk way helping to make the experience. Eventually a small lake appears out of nowhere exposing the entrance of the underground river. A small loading dock awaits you with some park workers passing out helmets and helping tourists into small wooden boats.
Entering the Underground River
Inside the Underground River
Have you traveled to the Philippines before?
Underground River Facts
- 8.2 km long
- 11 different minerals within the cave
- Hundreds of aesthetically unique speleothems
- 20 million year old Serenia fossil embedded in the walls
- The National Park was established in 1971
- Spectacular limestone or karst mountain landscape
What to Bring
T-shirt & Shorts
head lamp or flashlight
snacks & water bottle
rain coat (for boat ride)
Entering the Underground River
On a little wooden canoe like boat strapped with a car battery on the front to run the main light, a Filipino guide slowly paddles you into the darkness. Hundreds of tiny birds constantly can been seen and heard flying overhead, at some points so close they hit the tops of the passengers hard hats. They seem to have adapted to the dark using the same sonar techniques bats do. Constantly emitting a high pitch squeak to navigate the dark, its amazing how they don't crash into each other. Slowly drifting along the river the guide points out amazing rock formations giving information on them and their names. The boat ride only lasts about forty-five minutes, this is because the entire tunnel cannot be done safely due to the changing tides and size of the tunnel so visitors only get go 4km along the river. At the mouth of the river along the shore were these strange little tadpole looking things that had the strangest bodies. They had two large protruding eyes that were rather large for their little bodies and two little arms which they would use to jump around. Cute little buggers they were and very hard to get a picture of for they don't let people get to close before jumping off into the water. To the right you can see a picture of one I was able to sneak a picture of.
Lunch and Transportation
Most tours to the underground river provide a lunch inland after the river adventure. Our tour bus took us off-roading to a small village on the coast where wild chickens and goats roamed free scurrying in and amongst the small tin shanties. The lunch was cooked out side and served in a buffet style under large grass roof tiki huts. It was not very fancy or sanitary to say the least however it was extremely tasty and since I had not brought any snacks for the day I was super hungry. I mingled as I ate with other Filipino people and some tourists from Germany then wondered around taking pictures. By this time it had started to rain which it often does in short bursts during the monsoon season which I had just happened to be traveling in, so I retreated back to the bus.
- Take the Super Ferry from Manilla to Puerto Princesa for a unique experience at sea!
Getting to Puerto Princesa
Flying to the island of Palawan is the easiest way to get there and is relatively cheap when flying Cebu Pacific. It's a short flight from manilla and to my knowledge fly's regularly. I chose to take the Super Ferry back to Manilla so I could see some more of the country from a different perspective, also the Super Ferry is super cheap. I must warn you though time cannot be an issue for the ferry ride takes twenty hours. I bought an economy ticket which gave me a little bunk bed in a room with hundreds of beds. It was clean but very small so I spent most of my time on the deck or in the food room. I ended up making friends with some guys playing guitars out on the deck and spent most of the night having beers and learning to play Filipino songs. Over all the trip to the Subterranean Under Ground River was an amazing experience and I recommend to anyone traveling to the Philippines to make an effort to go and see it. There is a reason it was voted on of the seven wonders for it truly is a marvel of mother nature. I hope this article was informative as well as inspiring, motivation you, the readers to get out there and see more of the world!
© 2013 Jay Barban