Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Palawan Province
N10 10 0 E118 55 0
Date of Inscription: 1999
Criteria: (vii)(x)
Property : 22,202 ha
Ref: 652rev
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This park features a spectacular limestone karst landscape with an underground river. One of the river’s distinguishing features is that it emerges directly into the sea, and its lower portion is subject to tidal influences. The area also represents a significant habitat for biodiversity conservation. The site contains a full ‘mountain-to-sea’ ecosystem and has some of the most important forests in Asia.

Brief synthesis

Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park encompasses one of the world’s most impressive cave systems, featuring spectacular limestone karst landscapes, pristine natural beauty, and intact old-growth forests and distinctive wildlife. It is located in the south-western 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.

The property, comprising an area of approximately 22,202 ha, contains an 8.2km long underground river. The highlight of this subterranean river system is that it flows directly into the sea, with its brackish lower half subjected to tidal influence, distinguishing it as a significant natural global phenomenon. The river’s cavern presents remarkable, eye catching rock formations. The property contains a full mountain-to-sea ecosystem which provides significant habitat for biodiversity conservation and protects the most intact and noteworthy forests within the Palawan biogeographic province. Holding the distinction of being the first national park devolved and successfully managed by a local government unit, the park’s effective management system is a symbol of commitment by the Filipino people to the protection and conservation of their natural heritage.

Criterion (vii): The Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park features a spectacular limestone or karst landscape. It contains an underground river that flows directly to the sea. The lower half of the river is brackish and subject to ocean tide. The associated tidal influence on the river makes this a significant natural phenomenon. The river’s cavern exhibits dramatic speleothems and several large chambers of as much as 120m wide and 60m high. Its accessibility and navigability up to 4.5km inland allows it to be experienced by the general public, who can view the magnificent rock formations on a river cruise unequalled by any other similar experience elsewhere in the world.

Criterion (x): The property contains globally significant habitat for biodiversity conservation. It includes a full mountain-to-sea ecosystem, protecting the most significant forest area within the Palawan Biogeographic Province. There are eight intact forest formations: forest on ultramafic soil, forest on limestone soil, montane forest, freshwater swamp forest, lowland evergreen tropical rainforest, riverine forest, beach forest, and mangrove forest, included in the property. It contains outstanding biodiversity with the Palawan Moist Forest recognized by the WWF’s Global Report as containing the richest tree flora, with high levels of regional and local endemism and as being the largest and most valuable limestone forest in Asia.

Suggested bases:

Puerto Princesa is the capital of the island province of Palawan. The city has been acclaimed several times as the cleanest and greenest city in the Philippines. With a wide range of attractions ranging from beaches to wildlife reserves, Puerto Princesa is a nature lover’s paradise. There is a tourist information office at the airport next to the arrival hall, but it’s not that useful. They will try to sell you tours, have no maps (Feb 2018) and give no information about current events in the city. They do not book accommodation, either. Jeepneys, multicabs and tricycles are the most common means to get around Puerto Princesa. As in Manila, jeepneys usually have standard routes which they ply. Tricycles on the other hand are fairly limited to certain areas and would not be able to go very long distances. Standard jeepney and tricycle fare around the city is ₱10 per person. The bus… [read more].

Taytay is a municipality on the island of Palawan in the Philippines. Taytay is located 220 kilometers northeast of Puerto Princesa. It is bounded in the north by El Nido, in the south by San Vicente and Dumaran, in the east by Taytay Bay and the Sulu Sea, and in the west by the South China Sea. Most tourists go to Taytay by road. From El Nido in the north, it is about 1½ hours by bus or van. From Puerto Princesa in the south, it is about 4 hours by bus or van. Private hire vans are available in Taytay to take you to the next part of your journey, or visa versa. The Company RoRo Bus offer rides from Puerto Princesa (4½ hours, Non-AC ₱280, AC ₱360; Status 2014). Some mini-buses from El Nido hold in Taytay. Ask around. MultiCab and tricycles are the most common means to get around Taytay, and… [read more].

Narra is in Palawan, Philippines [read more].


2 replies »

  1. Most tours will take you 4 km along the river. Some tours with special permits organised in advance can explore all 8.2 km. That far into the cave, boats can no longer pass and visitors have to swim between the rock walls. Conquer your fears of small, dark spaces however, and you’ll be treated to the rare sights of waterfalls gushing through the cave walls, a unique 20 million-year-old fossil of a sirenia or manatee, and a tiny rock passage that leads into a vast room, carpeted from floor to ceiling in glimmering crystals. Even the journey to the cave itself is worth it: you’ll enjoy a scenic 20-minute boat ride across the sea, past towering limestone karsts and walk through the national park, home to monkeys swinging through the tree canopies and giant monitor lizards slinking their way through the undergrowth.


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