A side trip to Ugong Rock wasn't originally part of our itinerary. The idea to drop by at this towering limestone pedestal came about after realizing that the Underground River tour wouldn't take that long, ergo we'd be wasting a whole afternoon if we went straight back to our hotel. We talked to our tour guide about it and he was cool with us stopping in for a short visit. It's just beside the road anyway.
So despite the nice ambiance in a nondescript resort in Sabang Beach where we took our hearty lunch, we had to hustle and say goodbye to the white powdery sand. We were kind of running on a tight schedule because the trip back to downtown Puerto Princesa would take two hours. We didn't have any idea how long the Ugong Rock adventure would last for.
As we hopped from the vehicle, a small drizzle began pelting down, making us sprint towards a hut that can accommodate large groups of people. Shortly thereafter, a middle-age man welcomed us and gave a brief introduction about the Ugong Rock. He told us that they, the locals of the community, manage the place.
The caving commenced after paying Php200 each and wearing protective helmets and gloves and uttering a prayer for safety. Two female tour guides tailed us, giving bits of info about the limestone outcropping. We instantly grew on them mainly because they spoke our language (a mixture of Kinaray-a, Ilonggo and Hiligaynon).
It felt good to talk in the native tongue. It was exciting to learn too that they have relatives from our hometown, Romblon. Small world, after all.
|Mandatory briefing administered by a local who speaks excellent English|
|Energetic tour guides|
You can say that the monolith we climbed was small but the way up was quite a challenge. We had to pass through narrow passages and crevices. It started with an easy walk through a small passageway, past a meadow with soft dappled sunlight filtering through the foliage. Our jolly tour guides explained as we dodged protuding rocks on our way up that the cave was called as such due to the interesting sound that stalactites create when you tap them lightly.
Perhaps the main attraction in Ugong Rock is rappelling into a slippery and jagged wall. I thought the climb ended after going through this stage but it turned out we had to ascend more. As we were nearing the top, I could feel my knees wobbling, extremely nervous and excited at the same time for the adventure that awaited us there.
|Walls that create a distinct 'ugong' sound|
|Making our way to the top|