I woke up to this wonderful news a couple of days back: Palawan's Puerto Princesa Underground River made it to the provisional New7Wonders of Nature based on the first count of vote results on 11/11/11*. It flooded my newsfeed, along with tons of shout-outs showing Filipino pride.
And here's a little background of this wonderful site:
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) is one of the most important biodiversity conservation areas of the Philippines. It features a spectacular limestone or karst landscape that contains an 8.2 km long underground river. A distinguishing feature of the river is that it flows directly into the sea, and the lower half portion of the river is brackish and subject to tidal influence. The area also represents significant habitat for biodiversity conservation. It contains a full mountain to the sea ecosystem and protects forests, which are among the most significant in Asia. [source]
I had a chance to witness this marvel a couple of years back. I, along with a few friends, joined the group of the parents of a former classmate. We totally ignored the OP-ness (if there ever is such a word) we should be feeling -- all for the Palawan dream. Good thing we did because as it turned out, there was really no reason to be OP (out of place).
There two routes on getting to the Underground River: (a) to take a boat from Sabang Pier or (b) go by foot via the Monkey or Jungle Trail. The original plan was to take the boat. Unfortunately, the waters think we need the extra exercise.
It was a good thing though because aside from burning calories, we got to enjoy the breathtaking views and lush forest. So there, we're set for a looooooooong adventure!
It started with a paddle boat ride through the mangrove to cross to the other side of the beach.
And then we need to walk along a stretch of picturesque beach...
Then climb through a wooded staircase...
And then at some point, there's fork in the path where travelers have to choose between the monkey trail and the jungle trail. We walked through the monkey trail because it's easier.
So we walked and walked and walked...
Until we reached picnic grounds near the mouth of the Underground River. We got to catch our breaths and eat and drink and rest while enjoying the view and monitor lizards and monkeys around. :)
And then finally, the calm waters greeted us! The scene would make you forget that the trail was extra looooooong for someone who has had no recent physical activities.
And then a few moments later...
We were cruising inside the underground river...
The guide pointed out many interesting stalactite/stalagmite limestone formations. There's the cathedral and the vegetable section among others. Trust me, it was awesome, magical, and simply breathtaking... every bit worthy to be listed among the New7Wonders of Nature. We oooohhhh'ed and aaaaaahhhhhh'ed and wooooooooowww'ed while inside. I would have to go back there to try to take photos na pang-travel magazine. Chos! :p
So after almost an hour in the darkness with only a handy spotlight to illuminate the way, our tour has come to an end. :)
- Amazon (South America), Halong Bay (Vietnam), Iguazo Falls (Argentina), Jeju Island (South Korea), Komodo (Indonesia) and Table Mountain (South Africa) made it to the list as well. The website noted that the stated provisional New7Wonders of Nature are listed in alphabetical order, not in any position or ranking. The voting calculation is now being checked, validated and independently verified, and the confirmed winners will be announced starting early 2012 during the Official Inauguration ceremonies.
- Photos grabbed from various albums (Friendster days pa lang). :p
- More photos HERE. Just don't mind the jejemon/emo feel of the site. :p