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Philippines: Sohoton National Park

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Sohoton National Park | Philippines | Asia

[Visited: May 1998]

In South-East Philippines, on the island of Samar, there are caves and a huge natural bridge which are hidden by the enormous jungle covering the area. Already the trip to arrive at those sights is very nice. You can leave from the town of Tacloban, capitol of the island of Leyte, in a so-called jeepney, to arrive in one hour in the village of Basey in the south of the island of Samar. Actually, in order to return to Tacloban you have to cross one of the few bridges joining islands in the Philippines. There, the only way to visit the National Park of Sohoton is to rent a typical Philippine boat, a tree trunk where you can sit and two floats to stabilize the vessel. The trip takes you along a beautiful river. Both sides of that river are formed by pristine jungle, interrupted only by small, poetic villages. Here you can admire palm trees with horizontal trunks, enormous trees and other small boats, with children navigating with wooden sticks.

Picture of Sohoton National Park (Philippines): Sohoton National Park

After one hour the river becomes much more narrow. From both sides of the river enormous grey rocks rise out of the blue waters. Also the rocks are covered by incredibly green vegetation. There where it is almost impossible to continue by boat, you can enter the national park. Suddenly, out of the seemingly endless green, comes a person who offers himself as a guide. Since there is not much choice, this "choice" is a formality, and soon a kerosene lamp is lighted and the cave entered. With some fantasy, landscapes can be seen in the play of light and shadow in the vast caves, famous sculptures, and parts of the human body can be discerned in the stalagtites and stalagmites. If your fantasy fails, the guide readily helps you out to see even erotic formations.

Picture of Sohoton National Park (Philippines): Sohoton National Park

After the visit to the caves it is possible to visit a gigantic natural bridge. To cross the bridge is impossible: it is completely covered by dense forest. This is a truly poetic and idyllic place to be, perfect for a lunch. In the right season it is possible to continue along the river by boat, but when I was there there was almost no water anymore. Just enough for some children to play in. The way back to Basey is another joy. From there, on my return trip to Tacloban, I was completely soaked by a huge torrential downpour. This is just one of the many beautiful things to see and do in the Philippines.

Picture of Sohoton National Park (Philippines): River in Sohoton National Park

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