On our third day in Coron, Palawan, my boyfie and I woke up early, got ready for our Calauit Safari tour and then left Coron Village Lodge at around 5.15 a.m. We decided to travel by boat since we planned to do some island hopping after our trip.
Calauit Game Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary (CGPWS) also known as the “Calauit Safari Park” is dubbed as the Philippines’ local version of the African Safari. The island has been declared as a game preserve and wildlife sanctuary by virtue of the Presidential Proclamation No. 1578 which was issued on August 31, 1976 during the Marcos regime. It has a total land area of approximately 3,760 hectares and is situated within Calauit Island in the northwest corner of Busuanga, the main island of the Calamianes, Northern Palawan.
According to history, last March 4, 1977, one hundred and four (104) African animals comprising of eight species arrived in Calauit, Busuanga, Palawan from Kenya, Africa via the MV Salvador ship. The animals that were transported to Calauit consist of the following:
- 15 giraffes
- 15 zebras
- 18 impalas
- 12 waterbucks
- 11 gazelles
- 11 elands
- 10 topis
- 12 bushbucks
As of September 2004, the current population of the animals in Calauit has been estimated at 481 heads, having the impalas with the highest number at 150. These African animals from Kenya co-exist with other endangered endemic Philippine animals such as the Palawan bearcats and mouse deer which roam freely around the island’s verdant hills and plains.
We arrived at the sanctuary past 9.30 a.m. We were a bit delayed and when we arrived, the tour truck had already left. We also found out that there were groups from Herbalife who were scheduled for safari tours that day so I got worried that they might not be able to attend to us since we made no appointment with them.
When the group from Herbalife arrived at the park’s office, the staff talked to the driver and the tour guide and asked if they can still accommodate us. The driver and the tour guide were kind-hearted enough and decided to take us both for another safari tour before they had their lunch.
Here are some of the animals that can be seen on the park:
Calamian Deer, also known as the “Calamian Hog Deer,” is a specie of deer which can be found only in the Calamian Group of Islands of Palawan in the Philippines. It is one of three species of deer native to the Philippines.
Giraffe is considered to be the tallest of all land-living animal species. Its coat is made up of large, irregular patches of yellow to black fur separated by white, off-white, or dark yellowish brown background. They usually stand about 13 to 18 feet tall with long neck and long legs.
Zebras are best known for their distinctive white and black stripes. Their bellies have a large white blotch for camouflage purposes. Their stripes come in different patterns unique to each individual.
Palawan Bearcat is an endemic species and is one of the biggest land mammals in mainland Palawan, Philippines This mammal looks like a half-bear and a half-cat and has a coarse and thick black-brown fur.
Porcupines are the third largest of the rodents with a coat of sharp spines that defend them from predators. They come in various shades of brown, grey, and the unusual white.
The wild boar, also called as wild hog, is a specie of a pig in the biological family Suidae and the wild ancestor of the domestic pig. Its body is compact, with large head and relatively short legs. Its fur consists of stiff bristles which usually varies from dark grey to black or brown.
After the tour, we thanked the staff of Calauit Safari Park, left the park at around 1.30 p.m., and then headed back to our boat. After eating our packed lunch on the boat, we headed to Calomboyan Island and then back to Coron town proper. We decided not to continue with our island hopping since the waves were big and the seas were rough. We arrived at Coron around 7.30 p.m.
The advisable visiting time is between 6.00 a.m. to 10.00 a.m. in order to catch the animals in the open since most of these animals hide in the forest when it is hot to avoid the sun.
Calauit Safari Park is accessible by a 3 to 4-hour boat ride from Coron town proper or by a 2 to 3 hours travel by land plus a 15-minute boat ride to the park.
The wet season in Busuanga usually starts from July and ends in October since the island is exposed to the southwest monsoon and rough seas during this period. Fair weather and calm seas usually prevail from March to June.
- Boat Rental – P6,000 or Van Rental – P5,500 + Boat Ride to the sanctuary – P400/boat
- Entrance Fee – P250/pax for Filipinos (I think the entrance fee for a foreigner is a bit higher, I just forgot the exact amount.)
- Tour Truck or Jeep – P1,000/truck