The Philippines: The Underground River
We were absolutely buzzing when we woke up to the news that after three days of closure the sea had settled and we could go to the Underground River- one of the new seven wonders of the world!
We set off early and took the long bus journey up the coast to get to the jetty to the river. As the river had been closed for so many days there were thousands of people waiting for a boat so it was a long time before we got our opportunity, but that was ample time for watching some local school children parade to celebrate the river and have a banana crepe from a lovely lady with a little hut by the marina!
We finally boarded our catamaran and were not surprised at all that the river had been closed in the days precious- the sea was so choppy we were up and down on the waves like a pirate ship! Fortunately it wasn’t long enough to be sea sick but I had a little check that my life jacket was good and secure once or twice!
When we made it to the shore we saw some of idyllic scenery surrounding the cave enterance- beautiful lagoons, intrinsically eroded cliff faces, all sorts of naturally breathtaking things. It was gorgeous and that was before we even got into the cave.
We donned our hard hats whilst watching out for naughty monkeys looking to steal our possessions and climbed aboard the rowing boat that would take us into the underground river. The boats are all rowed by hand and visitors wear an audio guide to minimise noise pollution in the caves which could have a negative impact on the wildlife in the cave.
We made our way through what looked like a tiny entrance and my breath was taken away. We were faced with an unimaginable cave network with stalactite and stalagmite formations that I couldn’t comprehend. They were hugely elaborate and the audio guide pointed out lots of ‘scenes’ or ‘celebrities’ to be picked out in the shapes, a little like cloud watching. The only sound was the gentle drops of water from the caverns above onto the water and the occasional swoop of a bat or a bird. It was absolutely magical.
We entered a few different chambers of the cave including one that was absolutely pitch black when torches were switched off- I was a penetrating darkness and I was really glad when the torch was switched back on! There were thousands of bats hanging from the ceiling, just doing their thing. It amazes me how life thrives even in the darkest of places.
The hairs on my neck stood up as the audio guide told us how the formations only grow the thickness of a human hair every year. Now they are awesome projections, towering over our boat- I find that just incredible. It’s so amazing that such a precise combination of minerals and environmental factors enable cave formations to grow, and we were faced with the most incredible caves in the world. It was haunting and tummy-tinglingly awesome all at the same time. Unforgettable doesn’t even cover it.
We left the caves completely filled with awe for our incredible world.