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Sunday, October 06, 2013

Puerto Princesa, Palawan: Iwahig Firefly Watching

A relatively new tourist destination in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, the Iwahig Firefly Watching, has been slowly gaining its popularity. It's located along Iwahig River, which is about an hour away from the city proper and the roads going there are nice. The Iwahig Firefly Watching Tour costs PHP 600 per boat and good for three persons.

Iwahig Firefly Watching
Iwahig Firefly Watching

It only started its operation last 2008 because a team of local environmental advocates stayed over the night along the mangrove areas of Iwahig River to study the mangrove biodiversity. They then discovered the rich colonies of fireflies blooming at night time and through the help of the city government, they started developing and improving the place for it to be tourist-worthy spot.

Iwahig River, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Iwahig River

Because of the recent recognition given to the Puerto Princesa Underground River last 2011, swarms of tourists have since flocked the city. And because of this popularity, the Iwahig Firefly watching has also been included to most travel itineraries. Good thing for the locals because they now have a new source of income.

Boat Ramp at Iwahig River
Boat Ramp at Iwahig River

TRAVEL TIP: For Do-It-Yourself travelers, you may negotiate a tricycle ride to and from Iwahig and the ride costs PHP 600 good for 5 persons already. The firefly watching tour start at exactly 7 PM and onwards.

Our tricycle service fetched us from the city proper at around 5 PM because he wanted to avoid traffic jams on the city streets but to his surprise, the traffic was bearable and we arrived Iwahig at around 5:30 PM. Too early, right? Well, we killed our time by playing frisbee, taking pictures of the place and the Iwahig River, and eating some snacks from a nearby store. As soon as the registration booth opened, we lined up and reserved slots for the river tour.

Picture Taking at Iwahig, Palawan
Picture Taking moments at Iwahig

According to our boatman and tour guide, Jay-R, during peak seasons where there are a lot of guests booking for the tour, they can accommodate until 1AM if weather and river water conditions permit. Our boatman was very informative all throughout our 1-hour river tour. He shared with us a lot of facts, even scientific facts, about the behavior and environment of the firefly family. The river's around 7 kilometers long but the tour is permitted only up to 1 kilometer to protect the safety of the visitors from strong river currents.

Boat at iwahig Tour Palawan
Boat used for Iwahig Firefly Tour

TRAVEL TIP: During rainy seasons in the Philippines (June to November), weather conditions in Palawan tend to be peculiar so make sure bringing some water-resistant bags or ziploc where you can keep your personal belongings (i.e. mobile phones, DSLRs and Digital Cameras, Wallet, etc.). Good thing they already provide ponchos or raincoats, and salakot, a Filipino farmer's hat, in case it will rain.

Our boatman brought a red flashlight with him and every time he turns it on and focuses it on trees, fireflies light up on a synchronous manner. Interesting, right? Why? Well, it's for you to know and for you to find out straight from the Iwahig boatmen when you visit the place.

Too bad I haven't figured out how to set my DSLR camera to capture scenes at night time and dark places. Anyhow, I'm already contented seeing the fireflies "ignite" themselves and produce bright yellow lights on the mangrove trees. The river tour was very relaxing and I'm really hoping having a chance to go back.

Iwahig Firefly Rour
Too bad, right?

We finished our tour at around 9 PM and off we went back to the Puerto Princesa City proper and grabbed some sumptuous dinner and chill-out music at Tiki Bar. That concluded our tiring yet fun day! 

Iwahig Tour Palawan
Satisfied Iwahig Firefly Watching visitors!

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