Amazing Underworld Of Palawan Underground River

by Ion Cortez

On the romantic tropical island of Palawan in the far western reaches of the Philippines there is a river that is navigable for more than five miles… underground. With the more specific name of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, it is considered as one of the 28 finalists for the “New Seven Wonders of Nature” competition.

Azure waters, crystal clear and inviting, mark the entrance to the world’s second longest subterranean watercourse. Its mainfocus is 8.2 km. long underground river that flows beneath a spectacular limestone formation before directly emptying into the sea.

The play of lights and shadows on the stunning limestone formations inside the cave gives the illusion of mythical, and even religious images like dragons, serpents, cathedrals, and even a very life-like scene of the Nativity. The subterranean waterway itself hosts two species of swiftlets and nine species of bats whose guano droppings give the cool air in the cave a robust acrid smell.

The underground river as well as the forest canopy above it is home to 165 of the 252 bird species endemic to Palawan such as the White breasted sea eagle, Palawan hornbill, Blue-naped parrot, Tabon scrub fowl and the Hill myna. Moreover, mammal species such as the Bearded pig, Long-tailed macaque, Palawan stink badger, and Bearcat were observed in the area.

The Sea cow and Hawksbill sea turtle have also been observed feeding in the coastal area and in the clear lagoon leading to the underground river entrance. Because of its stunning features and diversely rich ecosystem, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park has been inscribed as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

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