Team travel journal: Palawan, Philippines
25th May 2017 | by Kate
Kate in Palawan
'After a few days in Manila, we swapped its chaotic streets for Palawan’s much more relaxed capital Puerta Princesa, a short flight away. From here it was a 90 minute drive to Sabang, a laid back coastal village and the gateway to the Puerta Princesa subterranean underground river.
I first visited Sabang about 10 years ago, in my backpacking heyday, and was expecting the area to have changed, but was happily surprised to find that - apart from a few extra hotels - the village and its expansive palm fringed beach had managed to maintain the same low key and local charm it always had.
The following morning we took a local long tail boat to the entrance of the Puerta Princesa Subterranean River National Park - a journey that takes you along steep cliffs and mountain scenery along the way. After disembarking on to what seems to be a normal beach shore, you walk a short way through a pathed forest leading you to a mesmerising emerald green lagoon.
From here, we took a paddle-powered canoe into the cave and onto the underground river. Gliding quietly along, our guide used a torch light to point out the vast and unique natural rock formations which had an otherworldly feel to them - helped perhaps by the thousands of bats hanging from the stalactites! I came out out of the river feeling notably more relaxed and peaceful, something that apparently many visitors to the river experience. It is one of the of the seven natural wonders of the world, and it's very easy to see why.
From Sabang, it was a five hour drive through gorgeous rural scenery, farmers and buffalos working the fields and lush rice fields towards El Nido, The vibrant gateway town to northern Palawan's numerous islands and lagoons. El Nido is set against a backdrop of stunning limestone karsts and islets... picturesque doesn't even come close! We spent the day island hopping; the white sand beaches and crystal clear water have to be seen to be believed. The snorkeling is some of the best I’ve ever experienced, and when you've worked up an appetite, head back to the beach to enjoy a fresh fish BBQ... heaven!
Start planning your holiday to the Philippines or you can call Kate on +44 (0) 1273 670 001.