Facts About Puerto Princesa’s World-Famous Underground River

You may know the Puerto Princesa Underground River, also known as the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park, for its spectacular limestone mountain landscape, dramatic formations in the cavern, and the pristine waters surrounding it.

But there is so much more to this treasure.

The Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park, located in the south-western part of the Philippines and about 65 kilometers north-west of Puerto Princesa, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. It was also voted as a New7Wonders of Nature in 2012. 

The property covers an area of approximately 22,202 ha with the Underground River stretching to 8.2km long. The massive limestone karst rock structure shielding the river is the Saint Paul Mountain Range.  Sabang Beach is the takeoff point of tourists to the Subterranean River National Park.

If you are taking an Underground River day tour, here are some remarkable facts about the Puerto Princesa Underground River that will make you fully enjoy and appreciate the entire experience:



via Fotolia



Home To 13 Forest Formations

You may only see a part of the park during your trip because most of its sections are highly protected. But the site boasts significant forest formations found in tropical Asia, including a forest over ultramafic soils, forest over limestone soils, and montane forest—among many others.

Also on the site is the Palawan Moist Forest, which is recognized by the WWF’s Global Report as containing the richest tree flora. The forest also recorded high levels of regional and local endemism and considered as the largest and most valuable limestone forest in Asia.



A Phenomenal River

The river system flows directly into the sea, and UNESCO noted the river’s brackish lower half being subjected to tidal influence as “a significant natural global phenomenon.” This means it contains more salt than freshwater, but not enough to be categorized as saltwater. 



Charima312017 via Wikimedia Commons



Small Waterfalls Inside The Cave

You can expect to see rock formations inside the cave, but there were reports from a group of environmentalists and geologists in 2010 claiming that the underground river has a second floor, which allows the formation of small waterfalls. They also found a cave dome measuring that is 300 meters above the underground river, large bats, more marine creatures, and more river channels. 



Incredible Stalactites And Stalagmites

You must be wondering what major formations of stalactites and stalagmites you will see from your boat. There is a major cavern called the Cathedral where an image of the Virgin Mary and the Holy Family exists. There are also images of food, such as corn, mushroom, and carrot. Other formations take the shape of jellyfish, dinosaurs, an umbrella, a man’s head, and a ship.

The Underground River also has large chambers, including the 360-meter-long Italian’s Chamber with approximate 2.5 million square meters volume. This is considered as one of the largest cave rooms in the world.



Neslaaaay via Wikimedia Commons



Diverse Flora And Fauna

Your journey to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park might also become more interesting if you know that there are more than 800 plant species from 300 genera and 100 families in the site. 

Some of the trees in the area are dao, ipil, dita, amugis, and apitong while plant species include almaciga and kamagong. Among the animals found there are giant spiders, fish, snakes, and crabs. Of course, you won’t miss the sound of the bats while touring inside. There are also swallows and fossils dating back millions of years.

You might be surprised that 165 out of the 252 bird species known to occur in Palawan thrive in the park. These include the blue-naped parrot, hill myna, Palawan hornbill, and white-breasted sea eagle. The Palawan peacock pheasant is reportedly existing on the site.



Jordan Balintac via Wikimedia Commons



The Subaraw Biodiversity Festival

If you are traveling to Palawan in November, you might want to make sure you are there on November 10 for the Subaraw Biodiversity Festival. The Subaraw Biodiversity Festival is the very first festivity that celebrates the Puerto Princesa Underground River.