It’s big – at 3,700 hectares, Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary is Southeast Asia’s largest exotic wildlife park, turning on its head the Law of the African Jungle, as a variety of African species roam free on the island, and will literally eat out of your hand! This 2-day adventure splits up the long drive from the airport or Coron Town to Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary, giving you more time to explore untouched northern Busuanga.
Calauit is an island, separated from the main island of Busuanga by a remarkable 7-km long mangrove estuary. It’s one of the best kept secrets of zoo-less conservation. (Though some caution is warranted: There is a tiny zoo within the park established to pander to the local Filipino market housing a porcupine, some monkeys, civat cats, a python (from mainland Southeast Asia) and the occasional eagle. We usually give it a wide berth to send a message of disapproval.)
Calauit also has a controversial history that pulls at the heart-strings — of a native people displaced to satisfy the whims of a dictator’s penchant to have an African safari park transplanted to his homeland of the Philippines.
Yes, during Kenya’s Mau Mau rebellion, Ferdinand Marcos made the right noises about saving African wild species, but the truth was he and a business associate of his wanted a safari park for their personal pleasure.
Marcos, the dictator, has long since gone and the Calauit sanctuary is a public conservation project, which was subsequently expanded to become a refuge for the Calamian deer. In recent years, the native Tagbanua, many of whom have moved back to the edge of the island, have offered their services to guide visitors on a snorkeling tour of dugong.
Dugong snorkeling is a paid extra–and you need to book ahead, and the tour is unavailable on a Sunday. Dugong, it seems, have a day of rest!
The tours incorporates accommodation in a Palawan SandCastles Busuanga beach house: they’re airconditioned, but their designed to open up and capture the sea breezes. Their en suites each have a spring water mini-plunge pool.
The trip has been exclusively a 4×4 excursion till recently. But now the road to Calauit and back allows more comfy vans to ply the route.
Time and conditions permitting, we really recommend a late lunch or merienda stop at Sinibayan waterfall and rock pools: Now, this is another well kept secret! Set within a lush rainforest are rock pools fed by waterfalls. The swimming is divine and the 40-minute hike in is an experience to savour. And, most important–this, the best waterfall in Busuanga, is off the tourist trail. Only true locals are in on the secret!
Car pick up and drop-off included, as are meals, accommodation, the Calauit tour and snorkeling, biking and kayaking activities out of expedition base SandCastles.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Busuanga Airport or Coron Town|
|DEPARTURE TIME||1:00 PM (unless notified of different departure time)|
Native fan-cooled pavilions at Palawan SandCastles
Day 1 checks you into Palawan SandCastles, Tribal Adventures rustic and secluded adventure camp, giving you the opportunity to kayak and snorkel the crystal clear waters and stunning coral reefs of Dugong Bay – home to over 30 dugongs (sea cows). Your Tribal Adventures guide will take you to nearby islands and sandbars, showing you the best snorkeling spots and introducing you to some of the local community to chat about their way of life – all while keeping an eye out for the bay area’s elusive dugongs.
The following day, you’re up early for the trip to Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary, which can either be done by 4x4, giving you some amazing hilltop views, or by boat and sea kayak, paddling through the mangrove channel that separates Calauit from Busuanga (mode of transport will depend on the weather at the time of the tour).
The Calauit Safari brings you on an up-close encounter with African animals – feeding giraffes and patting zebra, and giving you all the history of how they ended up in the Philippines. After the safari, a 4x4 will be waiting to take you to the jump off point for Sinibayan Waterfalls. The 45 minute hike through tropical rainforest gets you to the cool freshwater rock pools, where your guide will prepare a barbeque lunch while you go for a relaxing dip.
The tour ends with a 4x4 transfer back to SandCastles to pick up your gear before heading back to Coron Town or to the airport for a late flight out.
Day 1 : Kayaking and Snorkeling Dugong Bay
- 1:00 PM - Airport or Coron Town Pickup + transfer to Palawan SandCastles
- 2:00 PM - Settle into native pavilion accommodation + merienda and refreshments
- 3:00 PM - Explore Dugong Bay, paddling to nearby islands and sand bars, and snorkeling the coral reefs in the bay area
- 5:30 PM – Arrive back at SandCastles for a well deserved drink/li>
- 6:30 PM – Dinner over a campfire
Day 2 : Calauit Safari and Sinibayan Rock Pools
- 6:00 AM - Early breakfast
- 7:00 AM - Departure for Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary
- 8:30 AM - Walk into the park, getting up close and personal with giraffes which will eat out of your hand
- 11:00 AM – Depart for Sinibayan waterfalls to trek through rain forest into jungles for a remote BBQ experience and swim in fresh water lagoons.
- 2:30 PM - Arrive at SandCastles to pick up your gear for return trip to airport for late flight out or to Coron Town
|COST PER PERSON|
|4+ PERSONS||PHP 10,038|
|3 PERSONS||PHP 10,822|
|2 PERSONS||PHP 14,953|
|1 PERSON||PHP 24,981|
- An extra PHP 3,500 per person will be charged for guests who wish to add dugong spotting in their trip itinerary.