Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Support Underground River bid as New 7 Wonders of Nature

After getting almost 100 million participants to vote, the recently concluded New Seven Wonders of the World helped spawn a new campaign called the New Seven Wonders of Nature. With the first few months of its campaign, half a million people from all around the globe already submitted over 200 nominations. A lot of the nominees were quite unknown and is now becoming recognized through this campaign’s list.

Getting four entries in the top ten of the New Seven Wonders of Nature official nominees will definitely make any Filipino proud. Coming in fifth place, as of June 2008, is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (often referred to as the Underground River). Although Filipinos have a real penchant for online voting, one cannot deny the natural beauty of this eight-kilometer underground river. It is supposedly the longest navigable underground river in the world and has been inscribed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage site last December 1999. Aside from being declared as a National Geological Monument, the Palawan Biosphere Reserve also declared it as one of five places in Palawan as an Important Bird Area (reference).

Upon entering the underground river, visitors are greeted by a picturesque lagoon outlined by a fantastic limestone karst mountain landscape. The river flows directly into the South China Sea, making the stone formations vulnerable to the ocean’s tides. The major formations composed of stalactites, stalagmites and a couple of large chambers are subject to tidal influences making them extremely unique. The cave is also a safe haven for birds and bats – so you might see a bird nest or two in there.

If you visit Puerto Princesa, most likely, your itinerary would include a visit to this natural wonder. The city of Puerto Princesa has great pride in this underground river and has taken measures to protect it like using solar charged halogen lamps in lieu of fuel emitting pressure lamps and a ferry boat system among others.

The river is a four to five-hour drive from the city proper. Although exploring the underground river just takes an hour, the long and uncomfortable drive is worth sixty minutes of ooh-ing and aah-ing at this natural phenomenon. Visitors don’t get to see the entire cave though, but they are shown a long stretch of interesting rocks that look like a lion, the holy family (Jesus, Mary and Joseph), a huge mushroom, and a large chamber called ‘the Cathedral’, etc.

After doing adventure caving inside the underground river, you can also do wildlife watching just right outside the cave. Visitors flock to this site to observe brightly colored birds like parrots and hornbills. Large monitor lizards, monkeys and squirrels also thrive at a park near the beach. The park is also near white sand beaches such as the Sabang wharf and Panaguman beach. It is also just one boatride away from another New Seven Wonders finalist – the Tubbataha Reef, an atoll coral reef that boasts over one thousand marine species, comprising of many endangered species. That’s why it is not surprising that Palawan attracts tourists from all over the world.

(written by Faith Salazar)

1 comment:

Pepper said...

Oh wow! I have put this at the top of my "to see and do" list!