Situated about 50 kilometers to the north of Puerto Princesa city in Philippines is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, which is located on the island’s northern coast, in the Saint Paul Mountain Range. While the St. Paul Bay borders it on the northern side, the east is occupied by the Babuyan River. This park is also one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and was inscribed into the list on the 4th of December, 1999, and has been short-listed as a finalist, along with 27 others, for the Modern Seven Wonders of Nature competition.
The entire management and maintenance of the park, along with the protection of the tropical rainforest, extraordinary cave system and sparkling wildlife, is under the jurisdiction of Puerto Princesa’s City Government, which has been carried out effectively since 1992.
Highlights and Features
The most striking feature that has pleasantly shocked all and sundry is its beautifully dramatic limestone karst landscapes, complimented with an underground river. While the river winds through a cave before directly emerging into the sea, the lower portions of the river are subjected to tidal influence often. One can navigate up to 8.2 kilometers into the river, after which it is inaccessible. The park also represents a significant habitat for the conservation of biodiversity, and contains a complete mountain-to-the-sea ecosystem, with some of Asia’s most important and valuable forests. Also, tourists can find some of the most wonderful white beaches here. Swimming and snorkeling, therefore, are some of the common and favorite pastimes of the people visiting the park.
The region has a wide array of flora and fauna. While one can find eight of the thirteen tropical forest types here, there is an estimated 800 different plant species, belonging to 100 families, and 30 genera. With over two-thirds of the site being forested, different varieties of trees are found. Large trees like Ipil, Dao, Amugis, Dita, and Apitong are widely found. Beach forest species, like the Bitaog, are quite common too. Pandan, Almaciga, Kamagong, and Rattan are some of the other species which are also available.
A record 165 species of birds occur in the park, which is equivalent to 67 percent of the total bird species. Most notable of those include the White breasted sea gull, Hill myna, Tabon scrub fowl, Palawan hornbill and Blue-naped parrot. There are 30 different mammal species and 19 different species of reptiles associated with this park, which comprises some of the world’s rarest and most endemic wildlife, like the Palawan porcupine, Palawan tree shrew, and Palawan stink badger.
Due to its rich subterranean flora and fauna, and the magnificent and picturesque locales and surrounding, it has always been a hot pick not only for nature lovers, but also for hikers, biologists, and photographers as well. The perfect time to visit this place is from January to Juna, when the weather is clear and sunny, and the sea is calm. Visitors have a great chance to explore and experience every nook and cranny of one of nature’s most unique and mystifying creations.