Summer Trip to Coron (Day 2): Fulfilling a Bucket List Item at Calauit Safari, Shipwrecks and More

Bucket List Item: [x]  Go on a safari – DONE!!!

DSC00193

My friend, have you recently fulfilled an item on your bucket list?  I do.  One item was removed from my list during my trip in Coron. Based on my research about Northern Palawan, I can fulfill an item on my bucket list which is to go on a safari.  Since my friends also dreamt of going to one, we chose to go to Calauit Safari when we finalized our itinerary.  Though our expected close encounter with tigers and lions never happened, we did have a memorable experience with a close encounter with other animals in the safari.  Since it was informed to us that the tour will start at dawn, we place this as our second day activity at Coron.  How much?  It’s Php 2,600/pax inclusive of lunch, boat rental and entrance.

That's out boatman.  Yup, it was really dark and raining when we left

That’s out boatman. Yup, it was really dark and raining when we left

Call time was at 4:00 AM and we still have our hangover from our first tour.  We chose to go to Calauit via boat for more excitement.  And that boat ride was more than we expected.  Aside from being dark at that time, news said it will rain in Luzon and we were not spared.  It was raining with thunderstorm when we were travelling in the middle of the sea!  I cruised the sea before for more than a day in a large ship but this one was scarier because our boat was small, we don’t have any electricity and it was really pitch dark!  After an hour and a half, the rain had stopped but the waves were bigger till the last 2 hours of our travel.  Yes, we travelled from Coron Town to the island of Calauit for more than 3 hours.  But don’t worrry because once the sun shines, you will enjoy the different rock formations and clear waters along the way.

The sun shines.  This is a promising day for us :)

The sun shines. This is a promising day for us 🙂

One of the roack formations you will see along the way

One of the rock formations you will see along the way

Calauit Safari DSC00136

The Calauit Island in Busuanga, Island of Palawan was first declared as a game preserve and wildlife sanctuary by the power of Presidential Proclamation No. 1578 issued on August 31, 1976. This was in response of the Government of the Philippines to the international concern to save the diminishing numbers of African animal population in the country of Kenya, Continent of Africa. The Giraffees at Calauit island was chosen for its relative isolation, size, topography, and vegetation, which provides the necessary environmental variability.” – Source: CalauitIsland.com  

Can you travel from the town of Coron to Calauit Safari via land? – Yes!  But the length of time for travel is the same.  The thing also is you will be dropped of from a port near the Safari and take a short boatride going there.

After docking our boat, we were welcomed by their receptionist and intorduced our guide, Kuya Omar (I think? Forgot his name. Hehe!).  A native of Manila, Kuya Omar was very knowledgeable about the history of the Safari, the animals living there, the trees and plants surrounding the area.

Our very knowledgeable tour guide at Calauit Safari

Our very knowledgeable tour guide at Calauit Safari

We were first introduced to the zebras:

Some of the zebras we saw upclose at the safari

Some of the zebras we saw upclose at the safari

Then to the tall giraffes:

The giraffee family :)

The giraffe family 🙂

Kuya shows us how to feed the hungry giraffes

Kuya shows us how to feed the hungry giraffes

If you want to feed the giraffes, just pay Php 100 for the feeds.  You will be asked to go inside a gazeboo with wooden gates which allows you to feed them without the danger of getting hurt.

That's B scared while feeding the giraffes

That’s B scared while feeding the giraffes

My friend Jill whose scared, too

My friend Jill whose scared, too

I’ve been to many zoos but this is the first time that I fed animals up close.  I was quite scared after one of the giraffes planned to run and attack my friend because they have an impression that they will be harmed.  But they were behaved during this activity. After the short “feeding program”, we rode a 4×4 and roamed more.

Our cool ride

Our cool ride

Aside from the two animals, Calauit has more to offer:

Camouflage Tree and other animals at the Safari

Camouflage Tree and other animals at the Safari

After the trip, I was impressed by the move of Ferdinand Marcos with this project.  Regardless if he started this to preserve African animals or for mere tourism purposes, it was a good move to enjoy the beauty of this island.  I just hope our Department of Tourism and Department of Environment and Natural Resources will help them more to preserve the animals and this place.

Black Island

Tall Black Limestone where the Black Island took its name

Tall Black Limestone where the Black Island took its name

After spending our morning at the Safari, we went to Black Island for our lunch and bum at the beach.  The island’s sand was not black but was creamy white.  The “black” on the island are the mountains of black limestones that towers the island. Though it rained during our visit, we still have another activity to do: spelunking!

There were 2 caves in this island and I forgot the names but both have unique stories.  One have sparkling stones which the crony treasure hunters of the late Fredinand Marcos dug and found the Yamashita Treasures.

Noticed some white spots on the pic?  Those are the "sparkles" on the first cave

Noticed some white spots on the pic? Those are the “sparkles” on the first cave

The other cave has a river inside where you can see different shapes including a man on bended knees proposing to a lady.  They say that this was also a place where a certain adventure-drama tv show was shot (forgot the shows title).

Me on the second cave

Me inside the second cave

Lusong Shipwreck

A view of Lusong Gunboat Shipwreck.  Image taken from http://coronvillagelodge.com

A view of Lusong Gunboat Shipwreck. Image taken from http://coronvillagelodge.com

After staying till afternoon, we rode our boat and went in the middle of the sea to see a shipwreck.  Remember the time that we skipped 2 islands on our first day?  Instead of asking for a refund, we called our contact at Coron Galeri to include this place on our second day itinerary.  Of course, a trip to Coron will never be complete without seeing one of the many shipwrecks found under its sea. Among all the shipwrecks here in Coron, this can easily be seen and touched by snorkeling especially during low tide.

Marie and Jill went down the boat to see the Shipwreck

Marie and Jill went down the boat to see the Shipwreck

Too bad we do not have any waterproof cameras with us on our trip that we don’t have our own pictures to document what we saw.  But the ship was so near that we can even touch the boat and felt the metal with shells sticked to it.  Since it was under the sea for a long time, the wreckage became an artifical reef for corals and fishes to thrive.  After less than an hour, we decide to go back and head to mainland since the waves were dancing frantically that made me dizzy.

We have so many activities for this day that a second post is needed.  Hope you learned something to arrange your tour in Coron this summer or the next.

-Tinakits-

Advertisements

Summer Trip to Coron: Planning Stage

Our group photo overlooking the Blue Lagoon in Coron, Palawan

Our group photo overlooking the Blue Lagoon in Coron, Palawan

My friend, how was your summer?  How did you enjoy it?  Regardless of your location or the seasons in your country, summer is the happiest season for most.  This is where students end their school year and when the working adults create so many reasons to go on vacation.  In a tropical country like the Philippines, it is the best season to enjoy the best of our country.  That is, exploring the beaches.  So if you are one of those who want to plan out any vacation in Coron in the future, readout this series for your guide.  Of course, I will start my Coron Trip Series with the Planning Stage:

TIP #1:  PLAN WHERE YOU WANT TO GO AND WAIT FOR ANY PROMO RELEASES FROM DIFFERENT AIRLINES ONCE ITS AVAILABLE AND BOOK IMMEDIATELY

My friends in my previous Department, my boyfriend B and I share the same passion for exploring the wonderful beaches in the Philippines and because of this, we always in constant search for our next destination.  And I tell you, we have a lot on our list!  Just like last year, B and I were reminisced the wonderful vacation we’ve had in Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan in 2011.  Since we felt that the time we spent for snorkeling was short-changed on our last vacation, we agreed that we will explore the beauty of Palawan next year.  I guess PAL Express (new name for Airphil) heard our conversation that they decided to have a Piso Fare November of 2012!  Since Coron was on our list, we decided to book a round trip flight to Busuanga (gateway of Coron) for 2 intended for June of 2013.  The price?  Php 1,500 per person, ALL-IN (“All-in” means the price already includes the base fare, travel tax, fuel tax, surcharges, etc.)

Excited as I was, I told my friend Marie about our plan and she got envious because she heard Coron was full of beaches and we bought a roundtrip ticket for a very low price.  So I booked one for her and she availed of the discount we had.  A month after, one of our friend named Jill heard from Marie about our adventure for 2013.  Since June was her birth month and all her planned vacation for that year was cancelled, she sent me a message saying she wants to join us, too.  And off I go to my lappie and booked another ticket for her.  The price?  Around Php 2,000 roundtrip.  Now that makes us 4.  Another friend of ours, Sir Romie, heard about our planned adventure.  Since he’s very stressed with some personal matters and he hasn’t gone on a real vacation, he asked me to book a ticket for him so that he could join us!  He asked me that favor last December.  I booked the ticket but it cost him around Php 3,000 which is double the price of my ticket for the same destination.

What’s the moral of the story?

Have a list of the places you want to go.  So that once airlines starts with their promotion, you already have an idea what’s your destination will be for your trip.

– Sign up on different airlines news feed for you to get notifications about their upcoming promotions so that you won’t miss any of their deals.

– Make sure you always ALWAYS save money so that once a promo becomes available, you have the money to book for tickets and other expenses for the trip.  Really, it pays a lot if you save.

– Once an airline promo becomes available for the destination you want, BOOK IT!

– Be aware of the holidays in your country so you can plan out your vacation.  You may click here for reference.

Map of Calamines Group of island as posted in Coron Galeri's office in the town of Coron,  Northern palawan

Map of Calamines Group of island as posted in Coron Galeri‘s office in the town of Coron, Northern Palawan

TIP #2: RESEARCH ABOUT YOUR DESTINATION

Since we already have tickets, the next thing is plan for our itinerary.  I have not been to Coron nor any of my companions.  For this, I have 2 options for researching:

1.  Fire up Google and search for blog entries and travel agencies that features Coron

I know there are fellow adventurers that have been to the Northern part of Palawan that were eager to share their experiences to others.  They will provide details of their planning, their activities, suggestions and hands-on experience which you need to consider in planning your itinerary.

Based on my research, here are some of the things I’ve learned in Coron:

– Coron is a part of the Calamines group of islands.  There’s a lot of small islands there mostly with white sand beaches.  Good for beach bumming.

– The seas of Coron were protected with diverse marine life.  Which means the place is good for snorkeling and diving.

– During World War 2, Northern Palawan was one of the sites for war battles with ships falling victim to bombs.  That is why Coron is a very known for shipwreck diving.

– Palawan is a well-secluded area and far from the city which was considered in building projects like the Iwahig Penal Colony in Puerto Princesa and Tala Leprosarium in Culion, Palawan – a place for those suffering from leprosy.  Culion is a part of Calamines Group.  Due to the social stigma about people suffering from leprosy, Culion was not a popular destination and was secluded from development which preserved its environment, monuments and ancient Spanish architecture.  Therefore, it is a great place to travel back in time and see Palawan during her younger years.

– Due to its diverse flora and fauna, the island of Calauit became the area for African animals purchased by the late President Ferdinand Marcos which was now called the Calauit Safari Park.

2.  Ask a friend you know have already visited the place

Lucky that I found a friend who visited the place last year.  Rommel, a friend and co-worker whom I share the same passion for cheer dancing, told me of his experience.  There’s nothing like getting tips from someone you completely trust.  Based on his first-hand experience, he said that it is best to hire a travel guide to arrange all the tours for our group.  He said touring the islands of Coron is a bit complicated since we need to pay a certain amount every time we enter an island or beach since some were protected  by the different tribes in Palawan, some were privately owned and a few were  no longer open to public for conservation reasons.  He also suggested to hire the services of the company named Coron Galeri to arrange everything for us.

The great thing about Rommel’s suggestion is that Coron Galeri has their own website where you can see all the available tour packages they offer.  He also gave me tips on arranging our itinerary:

– Among all of the Coron tours you can avail in an agency, do not choose to avail of their Coron Town Tour.  Why?  It is expensive and you can do it on your own. He was right about this and I will provide you details on my next entry.

– Hop all the islands you can for the entire duration.  But always check on the news in Coron for the islands that are not for touring.

– to get to another island, it requires time and boat ride.  Choose well on which island you want to go.  For our group, we chose to go to Calauit for their safari rather than going to Culion.

– There are no food nor convenience store chains in the town of Coron.  But they have Sari-sari Stores and eatery or calinderias around.

– Coron is a province.  Do not expect that their nightlife is like in Manila or in Boracay that it is open till sunrise.

– Roads are small.  Mode of transportation there is Tricycle.

– ATM Machines are not easy to find.  Better have cash in hand for your spending’s.

TIP #3:  RESEARCH ON THE BEST ACCOMMODATION THAT WILL FIT YOUR BUDGET

There are so many options on room accommodation.  Agoda, Hotels.com and Palawan-resort websites provides you with lists to choose from.  Research well on their amenities and their proximity to the places you want to go.  Since a part of our agenda is to go to Mount Tapyas and I am obsess with a good view but with affordable rates, we chose Mount Tapyas Hotel for our temporary home in Coron.

Facade of our home in Coron - Mount Tapyas Hotel

Facade of our home in Coron – Mount Tapyas Hotel

After our deliberation and agreement, we came up with this itinerary.  By the way, we have 4 days for this trip:

Day 1: Island Eco Tour. This means island-hopping to Siete Pecados, Kayangan Lake, Twin Lagoons, Barracuda Lake, Banol Beach, Smith Point White beach, Atwayan Beach

Day 2: Calauit Safari (travel via boat) & Black Island in the morning.  Mount Tapyas climb and Maquinit Hotspring in the afternoon.

Day 3: Beach-hopping to Bulog Island, Banana Island and Malcapuya Island

Day 4: Catch a flight going back to Manila

NOTE:  This itinerary was not followed.  Hihihi!  More on that on my future post.

Everything is set on our trip! Hope I helped you in planning for your future trip in Coron.  How was our vacation?  It was memorable!  I’ll post our 4-day adventure next.

My friend, any questions about planning for your Coron Trip?  Let me know so that I can help you.

-Tinakits-