Wednesday, April 8, 2015

El Nido Dream Fullfilled

I have not been travelling on personal expenses yet when i hoped to reach El Nido. That was decades ago when i was definitely younger. It has been expensive yet during those years, and local travels are not yet in vogue. Many things influenced the fullfillment of that hope, one among many, of which includes willing companions. After a few attempts, it materialized last month, serendipitously and devoid of personal expenses. We are having a conference and review of completed research projects funded by my office. Work and leisure, and that's the best pair of activity. Most international conferences and symposia always infuse post conference tours at the end of the activity, don't they?

El Nido, Palawan is a managed resource-protected area located about 238 km northeast of Palawan's capital city, Puerto Princesa. It has been inhabited by humans since 2680 BC and has a rich history since the Late Neolithic Age with many existing evidences.  Planes are from Manila directly to El Nido, but these are chartered flights. Regular flights are to Puerto Princesa City, where buses and vans ferry the passengers to El Nido. This land route entails 5.5 to 6 hours. We used hired vans that also cater to our local transport while we are still in Palawan.

Halfway between Puerto Princesa and El Nido is an aptly named restaurant, Halfway. It is the only available establishment in that area to eat, drink, stretch and have some conveniences. We looked seaward and the above is the landscape preempting our destination.

This is the inside of Halfway Restaurant, nicely covered with indigenous materials woven into mats. Costumers line up the counter to choose the food already prepared inside those glass stalls. Customers has to be quick because the buses or vans wait for them to continue the journey. Prepared food ensures a fast turn-over and quick stop of passengers.  

On our return trip to Puerto Princesa, we arrived at 11:00 pm and the food are almost gone. So we asked for more and they quickly cooked for the passengers of 3 vans. 

This is already the shores of El Nido, which i took early that morning before having breakfast.  Those are anchored boats there and normally leave with tourists for Island Hopping at around 9:00am.

This is the Cadlao Island, the most visible and nearest island to El Nido and very visible at the beach.

Above is the Helicopter Island, also visible at the El Nido beach to the left of Cadlao Island. Island Hopping Tours are divided to 3: Tour A, Tour B and Tour C. Each tour group has destined group of islands. Depending on the preferences of the tourists, the number of islands they can visit can also be arranged prior to departure. A pair of 2 tours, as in Tour A and Tour B can be easily visited in one day. Tourists have to specify if they want swimming, snorkelling or just plain island watching and photo shoots. Some islands also have caves that engages tourists, depending on their preferences. In other words,  a lot of things can really be done in El Nido, swimming, snorkelling, diving, trekking, spelunking, nature watching, and a lot more activities. 

In the past there are biological collectors like for the hoyas, which are now dwindling in the province. There are 3 hoyas specifically named from Palawan: Hoya elnidicus, Hoya palawanensis, Hoya estrellafalls.  Hoya diversifolia, Hoya imbricata and Hoya imperialis are also from there. I am sure there still are others, but i have not done my homework to locate which species really came from Palawan.

I will be posting more of the Island Hopping experiences in succeeding posts. 

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