top of page

all the colours of the Philippines, designed your way

 

Tropical Experience Travel Services - Tours of the Philippines

Blog - Hundred Caves of Puerto Princesa: Below the surface of the Philippines.

All the blog posts here.png

(Written on April 2024)

The Philippines is an increasingly popular country thanks to its marvellous landscapes and enticing nature. What lies below the surface of this exceptional environment? We often forget that the beauties that we see with our eyes, the places where we live and travel, are just tiny crusts of the globe. Beneath our feet we can find a dark and hidden underground world that is not less interesting than the one we’re used to.

Hundred Caves Puerto Princesa 1

Samuele of Tropical Experience at the main entrance of Hundred Caves. Photo: Tropical Experience.

Luca, one of our guests here in the Philippines, is a professional geologist. He alked to us with great enthusiasm about his experience in a “new” site that we recently added to our tours of the Philippines. After we met in Manila and having had some email exchanges, we decided to share his impressions coming from his expert eyes. That’s how this joint post was born, in order to put some lights on “Hundred Caves”.

Hundred Caves is a geological complex of great beauty located in Puerto Princesa, in the famous Palawan Province. Luca’s words are written below in italic.

Hundred Caves Palawan

The main rock of Hundred Caves, seen from outside. It is located in the Barangay Tagabinet of Puerto Princesa City. Photo: Tropical Experience.

[Luca] “In Puerto Princesa, well-connected to the Underground River, there is a place that is not less exciting to visit, called Hundred Caves. Even those that already experienced a visit of rocks of karst origin before will not be indifferent to the emotions they will feel by visiting this cave”.

 

The Hundred Caves attraction was added to our day tours that mainly aim to let you discover the famous Puerto Princesa Underground River, considered one of the natural world wonders and one of the most renowned UNESCO Heritage Sites of the Philippines.

Puerto Princesa Underground River wonders of nature

The entrance of the majestic Puerto Princesa Underground River, not far from Hundred Caves. Photo: Tropical Experience.

Hundred Caves does not have an underground river yet is equally interesting. The experience is comparable to entering a sea rock, one of those “domes” that make the landscape of Palawan Province iconic. Inside this big rock that dominates a flat lowland, you will find a long connection of caves and passages naturally carved inside the expansive limestone. And even just going on top of it without entering is an adventure itself!

[Luca] “To reach the entrance, you’ll need to go up and go through passages with wooden stairs, bottlenecks between boulders and pathways that are just anticipating a small part of what you will experience inside the cave. Those that have no previous experience with speleology will need to put a bit of effort once inside, where everything is still at a virgin state, with no barriers or sturdy pathways, but the game is worth the candle”.

Don’t worry, you won’t need to enter just by yourself into this picturesque rocky scenery, you will be accompanied by very expert people: the locals! The site is managed by the local community of Barangay Tabinet of Puerto Princesa City (the Barangay is the smallest local government unit in the Philippines, somehow a place as big as a “neighbourhood”). This is an example of “Community-based Tourism”, in which the local inhabitants are in charge for the management and protection of the site, to create economic and social value for the local communities by using natural resources in a sustainable manner.

Puerto Princesa caving
Tropical Experience agenzia Samuele Falcone

Discovering the cave connections of Hundred Caves guided by the locals. Photos: Tropical Experience.

Trail Puerto Princesa

This place is great also to experience the well-known kindness and helpfulness of the Filipinos, letting them guide you in the darkness of these caves, thanks to their knowledge and the already-prepared pathways. With their support, this adventure can be accessible to everyone. And that’s really a good thing, since the experience inside the caves is extraordinary:

[Luca] “Once you are by the entrance of the cave, you already feel like you are entering into the womb of the mountain, passing through sandstones. After a while you are actually in the most interesting part of the cave, where you can admire petrographic and mineralogical peculiarities. Indeed, the phenomenon of karstism that developed the cave is similar to the caves of the Underground River. Yet here stalactites and stalagmites are made of an almost pure calcium carbonate of an iridescent white colour. The cave was carved and modelled by the impetus of the water through the centuries. The water created bends, narrow passages, waterfalls and pools. You feel like you are walking inside the paleochannel of a strong underground stream that is now dormant. The passages are at times tough because of the reduced space or their verticality. Try to imagine (please, without closing your eyes) that you are going through the bedlam of energy and the uproar that is creating these passages”.

Since you are already out for your visit to the Underground River, we considered several options to enrich this day in a way that is interesting and fun at the same time. You will be travelling for around 2 hours to reach the river from Puerto Princesa City, thus it’s better to maximize your day the most you can!

There are many cars and vans passing by the Barangay Tabinet, though most of them go towards Sabang Beach (the starting point for the Underground River’s day tours) stopping only sometimes and just for quick visits at small restaurants or souvenir shops.

By visiting Hundred Caves, you are giving a contribution for the development of this rural community, which otherwise would get all this “traffic” without direct advantages. It would really be a pity not to enjoy a bit of these charming landscapes: even without entering, it is worth it even just to walk through the bountiful vegetation to reach the top of the rock and admiring the surrounding landscape!

Landscape Puerto Princesa_edited.jpg

The landscape of Puerto Princesa with its lush vegetations. As seen from the entrance on top of the rock of Hundred Caves. Photo: Tropical Experience.

[Luca] “Stalactites and stalagmites add value to Hundred Caves. They are made by a white luminescent calcium carbonate. Stalactites are sometimes massive and monolithic, while at times they are just light compositions made of thin columns that look like giant petrified nests. The lights reflected on the white colour stimulate your fantasy and sometimes you can see shapes looking like animals, plants or pieces of clothes magically turned into stone”.

Going to these places is an adventure back in time, a way to discover not only the Philippines of today, but also to imagine the geological history that built this country. This history was created by the water drops that decorated and shaped these places, a process that happened in such a long time that makes the human perception of time fades. The Philippines practically emerged from the sea and most of the local rocks are limestone, created by calcium deposits and fragments of sea creatures such as molluscs and corals. These kinds of rocks are those that shape also the environment of the mountains of the Philippine Cordillera, nowadays very far from the sea but where it is not rare to find fossils of marine origins. In a country made of 7641 islands, the sea is really everywhere, even where you don’t see it.

Limestone_edited.jpg
Hundred Caves 1_edited.jpg
Samuele Filippine

[Luca] “The water inside the caves is not intense and violent anymore. In recent times it is almost in a slow creative phase: aside from stalactites and stalagmite also incrustations cover the walls that perspire tiny droplets that with our artificial lights look like small pearls and pieces of metal, growing from the limestone as if they are mounted on it. The time is marked by the slow drip of the water drops and the cave you have entered envelops you in magical scenery”.

We love Hundred Caves and surely those that like to explore them admire nature and ecotourism. After recognizing the social value of this place, let’s also make an effort into stressing its environmental value and into protecting it by making our visit sustainable, as Luca suggested:

[Luca] “I’m allowing myself to write a recommendation: touch anything you encounter and see around you the least possible. Even if you’ll be wearing cotton gloves, the fats of the hands and the dirt on the gloves contaminates the white film of the rock formations, yellowing them. This way you will preserve this enchantment for the future generations”.

Grotte Filippine

Natural light is back approaching the exit of Hundred Caves. Photo: Tropical Experience.

It’s not just a cave and not even just 100 of them. Hundred Caves is a testimony of a past that needs to be preserved and passed on. And, an experience that definitely deserves to be done! You may discover this place by visiting Palawan Province in combination with the Puerto Princesa Underground River! Thanks a lot Luca for giving us your time and for sharing your experience!

A big thank you to Luca Tironi for sharing his experience with us!

Rocks Palawan

Photo by Luca Tironi.

Luca

Luca by the entrance of Hundred Caves.

bottom of page