Lizards, snakes, water falls, island hopping, crocodiles, eagles and the Underground River for an adventure travel in Palawan Philippines. I had one of the best times of my life while visiting Palawan.
It has been two years since Jessie and I went to Palawan Philippines. We had a wonderful time during our four days there. We went to the Underground River, Estrella Falls and the Crocodile Farm. I really wanted to go to Snake Island but we were unable to fit that one in.
We stayed at the Microtel Palawan. It provides near Western standard accommodations. Except for the spotty TV reception and the non-existent wi-fi connection, the rooms were fully up to Western Standards. The beds were nice and thick like you’d expect and the air conditioning would freeze you if you choose to set it that high. The lobby did not have air con and the Internet was slow. The staff was wonderful. When we arrived, we were greeted with cool wet towels which was a welcome relief and mango juice. Palawan is hotter than Cebu.
Microtel has a nice pool and a nice beach. There are sand flies there so take some Off lotion. You’re going to need it. I would stay there again in a heart beat. The cost was higher than I usually pay at about P3000 or $75 a night.
On our first full day in Palawan, we lounged, mostly because I was exhausted. That cost me an island hopping trip to Snake Island but it was probably for the best. We ran into typical problems that you should expect during a visit to a remote location in the Philippines. Somethings were hard to find. Not a big deal, something I’ve grown use too. I think we had trouble finding soft drinks for my caffeine fix. And hush, I like my soft drinks. Its no worse than your coffee. Well, not much worse anyway.
Visiting the Underground River In Palawan Philippines
Our second day started very early as we were bound for the Underground River. It takes a couple of hours, maybe three to get there from Puerto Princesa. The scenery along the way is breath taking. The road runs along the coast line. There are several locations along the way with stunning beauty. With the mountains on one side and the sea on the other. The coast line provided the best scenery. Often down a cliff overlooking a beautiful seascape dotted with island with white sand beaches.
If you go to the Underground River you’ll arrive at a dock. A small town that didn’t even have electricity two years ago. I met a Filipino man there and we talked for hours. He was a retired engineer but looking for a way to make some money in the Philippines. He was very interested in what I knew about websites. He suggested that we also visit the Mangrove Paddle Boat Tours and we did after our visit to the Underground River.
There are two ways to get to the river. One of them is by boat and that’s the way most people go. Jessie and I did run into a couple that were hiking their way to the Underground River. Jessie spoke with the girl and she was a bit afraid to head into the jungle in the Philippines. I wish I was up to that but as I recall, it was a couple of miles through the jungle to do it that way.
The Underground River tour itself is fun. The guides are full of corny jokes and you’ll be reminded several times not to open your mouth when you look up as you progress through the cave. The cave ceiling is covered with bats. Where there are bats, there will be a smell of ammonia. Welcome to the jungle, welcome to the great outdoors. Personally, I love that. I don’t love the smell but I love the outdoors and you have to take the wild as it comes.
It was very hot in the cave so dress light and if you have a camera that is very good in low light, take it. I don’t have any pictures inside the cave. I had only snapshot type cameras when we visited it. I don’t know if my DSLR would have been able to do much better in a moving boat where I couldn’t say “Hey stop, be real still, I need to take a five second exposure.”
You will see several rock formations that look like various things. Like looking in the clouds to see what you can find. One of them was rather naughty but most of them were interpreted as religious symbols. The naughty ones were covered with Filipino humor and I was amused and usually could see the shapes they were pointing out to us.
We saw a large water monitor swimming in the river while on our trip. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a python or other snake if you take the tour. Jessie and I also ran into a couple of large wild water monitors while at the Underground River. They were awesome to watch. For me, one of the highlights of the trip.
I managed to get very close to these very large lizards. They would tense up their tails when I got that close so I didn’t linger. I got my pictures and made my retreat. There is a picture of Jessie near the lizard and you might not be able to see the fear in her face but I can. It will be found at the end of this article.
The Mangrove Paddle Boat Tour
After the Underground River and lunch we walked to the Mangrove Paddle Boat Tour. Lunch included wild boar killed by the locals. It was even tougher than I expected. We couldn’t each much of it but what I did managed to chew was very good.
The walk to the Paddle Boat Tour was too far for me. It probably won’t be an issue for you. It was an easy walk for Jessie. I was really struggling at one point so we stopped along the way and rested for about thirty minutes. My new friend saw I was really struggling and managed to find someone to take me on their motorcycle for the return trip. Which I was grateful for.
The tour itself was very nice. I love the outdoors and there was one section that had very old trees in it. That was my favorite spot. The guides tell their corny jokes but also give you a lot of information about the forest. I remember her telling us there are female seeds and male seeds for the mangrove trees. They were floating in the water.
We didn’t see the monkeys but we did hear their screams and crashing through the trees. Not sure how they were able to stay out of sight as the crashing noises were quite close. Neither I nor Jessie ever caught sight of them.
We also saw two snakes. A python and a colorful and poisonous mangrove snake. Both were first spotted by the guide. I had a lot of trouble seeing the python as it blended in well but Jessie saw it as soon as the guide pointed it out. The mangrove snake was much easier to spot as it had bands of yellow and black or dark blue. Both were in the trees. The mangrove snake was on a limb that hung out over the river.
The river itself is quite beautiful They will take you up to where it meets the sea and that provided the best scenery of the tour but I still prefer the calmness of the deep forest with those old trees. It is so quiet and peaceful there that I didn’t even want the tour guide to talk. I would have been happy to get out and walk on the small island there. Find me a nice tree to rest my back and sit there for a while. Something I did a lot of during my days hunting in the woods of Mississippi. Something I very much miss.
On our third full day we headed off to Estrella Falls
Another beautiful drive and we didn’t need to leave quite as early. This time the mountains provided the best scenery and we passed a prison with prisoners working in the fields. I asked the driver to stop so we could get pictures. The guards didn’t really seem to like that much. They did lighten up after I took their picture too. Pinoy usually like to have their picture taken. I think it is a bit of an honor for them. That’s great because I like taking their pictures. Of course, I much prefer taking pictures of Filipina.
It took about two hours to get there I think. It is a bit off the main highway down some rather unkempt roads. For me, all the better. It brought back memories of hunting and my 4 wheel drive truck.
As we walked down the trail to the falls we could hear the water rushing over the falls. Later there was thunder in the distance which greatly added to the atmosphere for me. In the jungle with a beautiful island girl with peaceful and refreshing sounds. Just can’t beat that.
They are not huge falls but they are very nice to look at. There are picnic tables and a place to grill your food. We had fish and other things. Mostly I had fish.
Jessie in that sexy bathing suit and the falls provided a wonderful opportunity for photography. Some of the best pictures I’ve take came from that trip. Probably the best picture of Jessie came from that trip.
Swimming at the falls was nice but the water was cold. So it took a few minutes for your body to get use to that. It was rocky and the rushing water did increase the chance of a mishap. I loved it.
The highlight of the day though was probably the monkeys that joined us for lunch. I tried to get a close up picture of some baby monkeys but the troop was having none of that.
I got charged a couple of times so I backed off. They didn’t like me pointing that camera at the babies. I took the shot but it was too far away and not a very good picture. I didn’t have a DSLR at the time. I sure would like to go back with a better camera.
The Crocodile Farm
On our way home, our driver stopped at the Crocodile Farm. That’s not really the official name but that is what everyone calls it. We stopped at a couple of other places but the Crocodile Farm was memorable and I was not expecting that.
It is located in Puerto Princesa which is the major city for Palawan. Likely the only city where passenger jets provide service too. The tour of the croc’s was pretty much what I expected but it was entertaining. What I didn’t expect was to be able to interact with the animals in the way we did.
The first thing we encountered was getting our picture taken with a baby crocodile. While at that location, I noticed they served crocodile sausage. I had to have some of that. It was probably the best thing I’ve eaten in the Philippines. I don’t know if I was just hungry but I loved my crocodile sausage.
There is a skeleton and hide of a massive 30 foot crocodile on display at the crocodile farm. It was captured and if I remember correctly because it was eating people. The crocodile died at the park due to the stress of captivity. They gave two reasons but I don’t recall the other and I’m sure captivity played a major role in its death. I suppose they couldn’t leave it out in the wild while it was eating people.
My favorite part of my visit to the Crocodile Farm was the Bear cat. A very curious animal that also seemed a bit stubborn and very strong. We were allowed to touch it and even have it crawl on us. It wanted our stuff though. Twice it grabbed at items and got them. One of which was a camera. I could only look at the trainer who gently managed to get it away from the wonderful beast. It didn’t smell too good.
There are a lot of birds at the Crocodile Farm as well. My favorite of which was an eagle with an obviously ornery attitude. He would strut around as if he was daring us to get one step closer and clearly telling us that this area is his. It would squawk at us to drive home his point.
This was the last full day in Palawan. I would have loved to stay another day and get in some island hopping. I didn’t want the plane to leave without me though so the next day we made our departure. I don’t remember anything about the return trip, other than the pretty Filipina working at the airport. She was giving me those longing eyes that seem to be saying “Take me with you.” Nice thought but I suspect that would have an unhappy ending.
Is It Safe to Visit Palawan Philippines
If you get a chance to go to Palawan, take it. If someone tells you that Palawan is too dangerous, they are not up on the facts. There was a time when I wouldn’t have gone to Palawan but the situation has improved dramatically. The New Peoples Arm (NPA) is active there but they are not known to attack civilians. There was one terrorist incident about a year ago but closer to two years ago. There was a bomb near the Underground River and I think one person was killed. this was linked to a different group and the army has severely weakened them in recent years. There are places in the Philippines I would not be likely to visit but I consider Palawan to be low risk.
If you have any questions or anything to add, please leave a comment. You can use G+, FaceBook or WordPress to leave a comment. You need to click on the icon above the comment box to select which network to use or no network at all. If you find this article of value, please plus, like or tweet it.
Filed under: Adventure Travel in the Philippines
Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!