Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Palawan, My Beautiful Palawan
The Last Frontier
Within the Philippine archipelago is a group of islands collectively known as Palawan. This mini-archipelago is alternatively called the “Last Frontier” or the “Wild Country”. Northern Palawan’s main island is Busuanga where the intrepid traveler will find enough adventures in remote and wild locales.
Like white-laced emeralds shimmering in the deep blue sea, Busuanga’s offshore islands dot the horizon as far as the eye can see. One of these is the island of Calauit, where an exotic mélange of African and endemic animals in the wild can be found. Over thirty years ago, a wildlife sanctuary was created in Calauit that would be home to hundreds of imported African animals and rare, endangered Philippine species.
From the savannah grasslands to the gently rolling hills, from the mangrove swamps to the inland lagoons, the panorama is best viewed from Balatbat Hill, rising some 200 meters above sea level. From here, the neighboring Turtle Island also comes into view - a migratory breeding ground for endangered marine turtles.
Visitors can observe the very timid mouse deer, an endangered species. These frisky rodent-like animals eat the fruit of the ‘tibig’ or fig trees. The local porcupines here are even shyer than the mouse deer. Cute and cuddly, the Palawan bearcat is arguably the friendliest creature on the island. There are giraffes too, descendants of the originals from Kenya.
The graceful long-necked mammals have adapted well to their Calauit habitat. While the average lifespan of giraffes is 25 years, they have reached up to 29 years old on the island, which may say something about the lack of stress or poachers here. Also descended from the originals are dozens of zebras scampering about the island Spiral-horned eland can be seen bounding over the savannah, sometimes leaping over 10 feet in the air!
Calauit is also home to migratory bird species that lay their eggs here and then fly back to Indonesia. The indigenous Calamian deer are also faring quite well here, expanding their numbers from 30 to a thousand thereby taking them off the endangered species list. Impala, wild jungle fowl, monitor lizards and even squirrels, all are at home in Calauit, a little piece of Africa in the remote wilds of Northern Palawan.
Calauit is accessible by outrigger boat from Dimakya Island, home to the aptly named Club Paradise Resort. Picture a nearly kilometer-long white beach with soft powdery sand, turquoise waters with picnic-ready sandbars, an array of unique flora and fauna – in other words, tropical bliss ala Robinson Crusoe with creature comforts. Club Paradise is one of our favorites, a perfect hideaway for those weary city-bound souls.