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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Busuanga: Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary

Day 19: Coron (Busuanga)

We woke up at 3:00 a.m., fixed ourselves and we were then picked up at 4:00 by our guide at the hotel in Coron and took a short ride to the pier where our boat was waiting. I decided to pick up some bread and drank a cup of coffee at an eatery nearby. It took a few minutes and companion was already annoyed. Well I needed something warm in my stomach or else hell will break loose in there and I won’t be enjoying the trip to Calauit. At first the boatman wanted 7,000 pesos for the round-trip, but after some haggling he agreed for 6,000 pesos since we were the only two passengers.  We wanted to hire the boat for ourselves so we’re free to decide on how long to stay. Otherwise, it’s always going to have a lot of waiting and a lot of drama just like our experience at Honda Bay in Puerto Princesa.

I was still feeling sluggish and decided to snooze in the boat. The ride takes about 3 hours. The landscape was still dark and exudes the aura of mystic. It was a dreamscape and it was one of the times I really felt at peace. Maybe because of the silence and the only sound you hear was coming from the motor of the boat. Then slowly the sun slowly came up. The low-lying mist blankets the landscape. It was splendid.


We arrived at around half past seven and immediately went to the reception, paid another 1,600 pesos for two people (300 pesos entrance fee and 1000 for the truck). The toilet has no flush, only buckets of water which is a dread for many guests. Nevertheless it was serviceable.


You can also rent a van to Salvacion then a shorter boat ride to Calauit Island. The van cost around 7,000-8000 pesos. Initially we wanted to go on a group tour which cost 2600 per person and that includes the van ride and island transfer. With that enormous amount of fee, it would have been great if it included a meal or at least a coffee.

We were brought to the station and with a small introduction from Rolly about the Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary we drove off through the park. The whole track was not much. We first went to feed the Giraffes. It was early enough so most of the animals are still in the shade feeding. We were the only visitors in the island at the time. If we came a bit later, we probably haven’t been able to get close to the animals as they will be everywhere in the savannah. Some groups perhaps came later.



There were zebras and Calamian deer feeding nearby, but I was missing the topis, impalas and elend antilopes that were originally there. I was told they have died and some are killed by the Balik-Calauit movement, a group of original settlers in the island who were resettled during the Marcos era to give way to this setting of the sanctuary. After a few photos, we drove on to a small enclosure to see the porcupines, a land turtle, monkeys, a wild cat, and a warthog.


The guide told us that they put those animals in the enclosure for a maximum of three months and then released them in the wilds again then take in other animals. That is to not disrupt them much from their natural habitats and also to guarantee the tourists to see the animals at just one place. Next we went to the crocodile enclosure which is rather disappointing since it is small and cramped. On our way back we’ve seen a bayawak, a monitor lizard roaming around freely. The whole island tour took us around 1.5 hours and another 3 hours with the boat back to Coron town. (The group tours always go from 8:00-17:00).


My recollection of Calauit was during my college days with my classmates on our trip to the north of Palawan.

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