I was staying in Sabang for 4 nights. The main reason that I was in Sabang was to go to the Underground River.
I had read online that you had to get a Permit for the Underground River in Puerto Princesa at the ‘Coliseum’ or book a package tour (which comes with a Permit included).
I took a chance and made my own way from Puerto Princesa to Sabang by Lexxus bus without a Permit. I walked east along the beach to the cheaper accommodation options and found myself a room.
BOOKING THE TRIP:
YOU DO NOT have to be booked into a Sabang Hotel to get a permit. You can just buy a tour at a tour kiosk. The problem is that most tours leave early in the morning (mine left at 8am), so it is hard to get to Sabang in time for the trip – so you, effectively, HAVE TO book an hotel.
Anyway, I bought my ticket for the next day; it cost PHP1000. I learnt, later, that it should cost PHP700… but the guy that I booked with knew that I couldn’t go by boat (the seas were too rough). If you Trek, you have to pay for a guide which costs PHP200 each way. So I, actually, got an OK deal.
PICKUP TO THE BOAT:
I was at the Tour Kiosk at 7:55am.
At 8:15 my ticket man turned up with Isabel, an 18 year old Filipino girl.
The seas were too rough to take the planned boat to the Underground River, so we had to take the Jungle Trek there.
There was just Isabel and I; we set off east along the beach.
From the hotels, it is about 500m to the entrance to the Jungle Trail. You have to sign in to walk the Trail; which we did.
From the entrance, it is 3.56Kms to the Underground River.
There are gulleys to cross and hills to go up and down. In some places they have build wooden bridges to get you across the more difficult bits.
The ‘killer’ is the final hill just before you get to the Underground River.
THE UNDERGROUND RIVER:
We arrived at the boats at 9:25am; it had taken us 1 hour and 10 minutes to walk the Trail.
You are given a hard hat to wear and an audio device.
You are advised to keep your mouth closed at all times as, sometimes when people look up, they get a mouth full of bat droppings.
The audio provides lots of interesting information as you paddle along the River.
I apologise for not providing many photos but I only have a Smartphone camera which cannot capture anything at a distance. And, my pictures don’t do the Underground River any justice.
The audio talks you through ‘The Cathedral’ where stalagmites and stalactites form shapes of angels, the Virgin Mary, and other godly things.
One rock even looks like the face of Jesus.
The Cathedral ceiling is about 50 metres high.
Further in, you pass the Market Place where everything looks like vegetables or fruits.
Isabel was waiting for me as I disembarked and we set off back to my hotel.
It was now 10:20am.
One of the first things you hit on the return trail is a flight of stairs… this is only about 1/10th of what you have to negotiate to get over the big hill.
I was back at my hotel by 11:30am.
I enjoyed the Jungle Trek as much as I enjoyed the Underground River.
There are 2 or 3 Resting places on the Trail for those who need a break. I didn’t stop on the way there nor on the way back… I took it as a bit of a ‘challenge’ and wanted to see how fast I could do it.
All in all, the round trip took just over 3 hours. Taking it a bit more easy and resting on the way would add 1 or 2 more hours to that.
It is a very pleasant way to spend a day.