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The Puerto Princesa Underground River: A Natural Marvel in the Philippines

Nestled in the southwestern part of the Philippine Archipelago on the mid-western coast of Palawan, approximately 76 km northwest of Puerto Princesa and 360 km southwest of Manila, lies the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park, a natural marvel that boasts of one of the world’s most impressive cave systems. This park encompasses a breathtaking limestone karst landscape, an untouched natural beauty, ancient old-growth forests, and unique wildlife, making it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.

At the heart of the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park is the Puerto Princesa Underground River, a subterranean river system that spans an area of approximately 22,202 ha and contains an 8.2 km long underground river that flows directly into the sea. This underground river system is a significant natural phenomenon, with its brackish lower half subjected to tidal influence. The river’s cavern showcases magnificent rock formations that are sure to leave visitors in awe.

Tourists can experience the beauty of the Puerto Princesa Underground River on a river cruise, where they can view the stunning rock formations up close. However, only a portion of the 4.5 km inland river is open to tourists for safety reasons. The Puerto Princesa Underground River is a globally significant habitat for biodiversity conservation, providing a full mountain-to-sea ecosystem that protects the most intact and valuable forests within the Palawan Biogeographic Province.

The Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a symbol of the Filipino people’s commitment to the protection and conservation of their natural heritage, as it is the first national park devolved and successfully managed by a local government unit. The park’s effective management system has helped preserve the eight intact forest formations that can be found within the park, including forest on ultramafic soil, forest on limestone soil, montane forest, freshwater swamp forest, lowland evergreen tropical rainforest, riverine forest, beach forest, and mangrove forest.

The Palawan Moist Forest, located within the Puerto Princesa Underground River, is recognized by the WWF’s Global Report as being the largest and most valuable limestone forest in Asia, containing the richest tree flora with high levels of regional and local endemism. This outstanding biodiversity, combined with the magnificent rock formations and pristine natural beauty, makes the Puerto Princesa Underground River a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventurers.