It’s a Jungle out there – Sabang, Palawan, Philippines

St Paul Karst Mountain. Palawan
St. Paul Karst Mountain Range in the background, said to be twenty million years old.  Our resort is hidden behind those coconut trees on the right

I promise this is my final (delayed) post covering our trip to the Philippines, then I’ll get back to reality here in southern Texas.  To view my previous Philippines stories, check out:

After being amazed and fascinated by what we saw during our exploration of the Subterranean River Tour, we turned our interests above ground.  Just down the island from our resort were two natural attractions; the Jungle Trekking Tour and the Mangrove Forest Paddle Tour.

At first we weren’t really interested in doing the Mangrove Paddle Tour, since I grew up with mangrove trees behind my house, and we had already kayaked through mangroves in Florida.  We also discovered that we would have to pay an entrance fee and hire a guide to see this one.  But it was a beautiful day and we had nothing else to do – why not?

Mangrove Paddle Tour, Sabang PalawanGetting underway, we learned from our guide that these activities are community-based, sustainable eco-tourism projects managed by the area government.  Local guides on these tours were former fishermen or farmers who are now employed to help generate income for the community.  Just the thought of helping the local economy encouraged us to do both activities.


I immediately became a translator for Steve, as our guide could only describe the tour in Tagalog.  It was a quiet and relaxing ride as he slowly paddled us deep into the forest while following the river path.  I was impressed as he explained many details of the mangrove forest and why they are protecting it – and more importantly why they are proud to have it in Sabang.  The untouched old-growth mangrove trees, especially within an island forest, can rarely be seen these days, so the community is devoted to protecting them.

Mangrove Forest
Old-growth mangrove forest
Mangrove Paddle Tour
Just another day in mangrove paradise!

Since we took the first tour of the day, wild exotic birds could be heard and seen flying overhead, and we were able to spot several snakes sleeping on branches overhanging the river. I recoiled when I saw them, but our guide assured me that they sleep during daytime hours and there was no danger of me being attacked or eaten.

Deeper into the forest, the mangroves stood very high above the forest floor.  But what excited me most on this short paddle tour were the colorful little crabs.  There were red, blue, white and orange crabs all along the shore.  It was just too bad that in my excitement I was unable to focus on these tiny critters.


After the tour, our guide dropped us off at the Jungle Trail trailhead, where a new guide took over.  I berated myself halfway through the hike, since I had become one of those people I usually criticize – folks who wear flip-flops while hiking.  However, I somehow survived the fairly difficult 6-mile round trip over mountainous terrain.

The trail passed through a lowland forest in the shadow of Mt. St. Paul, and ended where the Underground River tour began.


Jungle Trail
Some of the tree roots here are more like walls!

Our guide pointed out some amazing works of nature as the hike progressed. Tarzan and Jane would have been very happy here among the hundreds of vines that hung all around us.

Jungle Trail
Do you see the knot in that vine?

The trail was quite challenging, and we trekked through several different forest environments.  We enjoyed new bird sounds we had never heard.  Halfway through the hike we came into a rugged Karst Forest, formed from soil erosion.  We noticed some plants that had adapted to the thin and poor soil there, and they seemed to be hanging on for dear life.

Jungle Trail, PPUR
This huge tree had grown from inside a hole at the base of the rock
Limestone cliffs
Striking limestone cliffs
Another huge limestone formation containing several caves
There were hundreds of wooden steps through and over the rock formations
We also saw several varieties of cactus on this hike

Finally, we came upon a swampy ecosystem described as a major provider of several ecological functions.  These plants and trees improve water quality as they absorb nutrients and toxins, providing habitat for a variety of animal species.


At the end of the trail we noticed a gathering of people.  As we got closer we were happy to find that several Monitor Lizards and monkeys endemic to the park were entertaining the visitors.  Of course, they work for food!

Monkeys and lizards were on display


Monitor Lizard
Is he giving me the eye?

Puerto Princesa Jungle Trail

It was a jungle out there, and it took us about 4 hours to take it all in.  The diversity of flora and fauna amazed us as we trudged along, and it was unlike any other trail we had followed before.

Daluyon Beach Resort
Time for a little nap on the beach after an arduous hike

During our early morning walks, the clear pristine beaches beckoned us to stop in wonderment at the works of art created in the sand overnight by the nocturnal critters.


Steve thought this resembled his walking path after too many glasses of wine!
A community of sand crabs
These little “balls” are created by sand crabs – they form them with their saliva so the sand won’t fall back into their hole. Is that amazing or what?

Beach crabs were also fun to watch as they scampered away when we walked by.



There’s one of those elusive little sand crabs!

And that concludes our awesome vacation in the Philippines.  In closing, let’s enjoy a local San Miguel beer, which is actually quite good.  Cheers!





  1. Oh, wow! What amazing adventures! I am so glad you shared lots of photos since we will probably never get there. You saw so many beautiful things. I love the knots in the vines and those huge tangles of roots, not to mention the very cool creatures. What a gorgeous place. Next time…no flip flops:)

    • Ha ha yes, no way will I hike on flip flops again 😦 I was too unprepared when we went there. I had many more pictures especially of the rock formations on the beach! If and When we visit again, we will go to the other parts of the island which has more untouched natural wonders.

  2. Impressive that you hiked in flip-flops…. darn tourist! This was the perfect post for me to read today as hubby and I devoured the most delicious Lumpia for lunch 🙂

  3. Well I’m really sorry to see your posts on the Philippines end. I really liked them. This one is amazing too. Your opening picture is just terrific. What a gorgeous spot. I can’t believe you managed to hike over that terrain in flip flops. Lots of folks would be lucky to do that 6 miles in hiking boots. The big trees just make me so happy. I’d love to hug one. But the best thing is the picture of you with that giant lizard. Good grief what if he walked into your backyard? Steve sure has a heavenly spot for the hammock nap. I’m so sorry this is over. Drat!

    • Sherry, that flip flops were the ones sold in Hawaii which is actually a comfy one. But still I won’t do it again, it was a tough hike. The monitor lizard actually walked into peoples backyard but they are now protected so no one catches them.
      Our cave adventure was the highlight of our trip, so many amazing natural wonders to experience.

  4. Oh I am so glad you took that tour. I loved looking at those gorgeous photos. What a wonderful adventure.

    What are you doing so close to that lizard. You make me nervous! But I like the way you end your day!

  5. I’m so glad both you and Steve shared your trip with us — your adventures make our life in the States seem really tame by comparison! I love those little blue crabs and the gorgeous walkways through the jungle. I wouldn’t be so excited about getting up close to a monitor lizard, though. You’re braver than I am! And I also cannot believe that you were able to hike six miles in flip-flops!! Your poor feet!

    • I know Laurel,hiking was not in the plan until we got there. I too was amazed I survived the flip flop 😦 There are lots of beautiful untouched beauty in Palawan. We are thinking of going back there and explore other parts.

  6. What an adventure you guys embarked on intaking those tours! I am so glad you went, as I was enjoying your phtos with wonder. I love seeing Old Growth Forests and the old growth mangroves did not disappoint. I for one welcome any other posts from your home country! Just beautiful, and so different from Atlanta, where we live.

  7. I have loved this post series MonaLiza! The Philippines is on our bucket list. When it floats to the top, I will be giving you a call for more tips. I don’t see how you managed that hike in flip flops.

    • There are a lot of pristine untouched natural wonders in this island that we plan to visit the north end end next time.
      I think my flip-flops were not the flimsy ones,(the ones you buy in Hawaii) that is why I survived despite the mountainous terrain.

  8. Eeek! Those lizard are creepy big! Don’t worry about crazy eyes. Worry about their crazy tongues. 😀 I’ve seen mangroves before but not as full and tall as the ones here. It sounds like an awesome hike with good variety of things to see along the way.

Comments are closed.