Friday, August 27, 2010

Puerto Princesa: Ugong Rock

Summer was clearly over and we completely knew it. The weather has been gloomy all over the country and rains have been happening almost everyday. We, however, still went on with it. Puerto Princesa on a rainy August. And the answer is yes. Palawan is a rewarding place, rain or shine.

View from the Deck, Ugong Rock

The first activity I went on was the day trip to the very famous Subterranean River National Park. The park is actually a two-hour drive from the city center. Naturaly, there are stops along the way. One of them is the Ugong Rock Cave, named so due to the sound the rock produces when you knock onto it.

Briefing, Ugong Rock

Ugong Rock is actually a limestone cliff, caves and burrows inside of it, located smack in the middle of rice fields and plantations. The limestone is similar to those I've seen jutting out the water in the bays of Coron, also in Palawan. Our guides explain that, geologically speaking, that whole area used to be submerged in water.

Untamed Path to Ugong Rock

Our guides, by the way, are part of the local cooperative managing the site. They say its sustainable tourism. It aims to preserve the environment and local culture, while still providing employment and a source of income for the local community. And you'll see lots of that in Puerto Princesa, which is highly inspiring, to say the least.

Ugong Rock

The fee for the cave exploration is 200 pesos per head. It includes rent for the helmets and gloves you'll be needing once inside. It's inclusive of the guides' fees, too. And you'll need them more than you realize. The cave starts off easy enough, until you get to some treacherous climbs (just ropes, no carabiners and support around your body) as well as to some stone creaks and holes. Challenging? Yes. Quite an experience? Absolutely.

Ugong Rock

After about 45 minutes to an hour, you will reach the top of the cliff. A viewing deck has been constructed there and it provides respite for the climbers after their most harrowing experience. That is, before they make their way back down, through the same creaks and holes they passed through. Bummer, I know. Our guides say that soon, a zip line will be constructed from the viewing deck to the ground below. And I would very much appreciate that.

View from the Deck, Ugong Rock

Still, despite the cuts on the elbows and the muscles pulled, I would still recommend that people visit the site. It's support for the local community, for one. It is also a very rewarding experience, much like Palawan is, as I would further discover.

View from the Deck, Ugong Rock

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