Calauit Safari Park: An Animal Lover’s Paradise
Giraffes. I’ve always loved giraffes and needless to say, it is my favorite animal. I’ve heard of this ‘safari’ in the Philippines and vowed to myself that I will visit this place by hook or by crook! So when we finally scored some budget tickets to Busuanga, Coron [USU airport code], I immediately started to look for tour packages.
Tailor Your Tour
Admittedly, there are a lot of tour providers but not everyone has a tour offering to Calauit since it is pretty far and yes, a bit expensive. Most Coron tours go for about Php2000-2500 per person but if you include Calauit in your tour package, it becomes significantly costlier.
After scouring through different websites and OLX, I found a tour provider whose prices and accomodations matched our preferences. They were also very prompt and polite in responding to my queries.
- RGO TOURS AND TRAVEL
Sinamay Street, Coron, Palawan, Philippines
0939-938- 0413/ 0915-511- 8664
Our total package price was Php8500 per person which included airport transfers , fresh buffet lunch meals and tours [Calauit Safari Tour, Island Hopping for days 1 and 2]. You’re free to go around Coron town at night so you can check out your dinner options on your own. The package price is pretty reasonable in my opinion since there were only 2 of us being accomated. I’m sure that if you are traveling with a group, the price would be considerably less. I always ask the tour providers if they could adjust the prices for just two people since my husband and I hardly travel with other people.
Patience is a Virtue My Dear
Now going back to the Calauit Tour, the island itself is FOUR HOURS away by boat from Coron Town so the driver picked us up from the hotel at 3:30AM. Crazy I know. There were only two of us plus another Japanese couple. We were served a simple breakfast on the boat like instant coffee, hotdogs and pan de sal. One thing to remember though if you are going on this tour is to bring a light jacket as the four-hour boat ride can get quite chilly. On the other hand, we got to experience one of the most beautiful sunrises ever, with the pastel colors slowly making it’s way from the sky to the water and the sun finally peeking out. Truly breathtaking.
I was told that there is another way to reach Busuanga and this is via a land trip which is basically the same at 3.5 hours. Personally, I’d prefer the boat trip since you can admire the view of the sea and other islands rather than being stuck inside a van. Not unexpectedly, we started chatting with the other couple after an hour or so. It was a bit difficult to get through their accent at first but I got used to it after a while and learnt that the lady is also a blogger! She travels around the Philippines and writes on her blog [which is of course in Japanese] and they have a travel agency that caters to Japanese tour groups. Cool!
We finally reached our destination and there is a quaint port where the boat will dock.
We were led straight to the truck which will take us to the safari proper. The tour starts super early because the giraffes and the rest of the animals come out when it’s not too hot out. There was also a quick briefing on the do’s and don’ts, a bit of history of the place and their constant struggle to keep it open. He mentioned that one of their main concerns is the entry of wild animals that might disrupt the eco-system of the safari park like predators and the like. He also went into detail on how the giraffes only used to eat plant leaves from a tree especially flown in from Africa and that now they were able to find a more practical alternative locally.
Savanna in the Philippines
After a couple of [bumpy] minutes riding into the safari, we were welcomed by a scene that seems straight out of Africa! A huge plateau with just a few trees here and there, it really felt and looked like a savanna. A little later on we started to see these beauties coming towards us! I though my heart would literally drop! I guess they aren’t scared of humans anymore [and they knew we had food too] so they gamely approached the truck without any hesitations. The guide showed us how to feed them properly and also not to agitate them as well. We got to spend a good 15 or 20 minutes with these healthy and well-kept giraffes, they actually had no smell! I could say that it is a dream come true for me.
We drove for a little bit and we saw a few zebras just standing around. Apparently, this is their ‘defensive mode’ where they stand side by side but in opposite directions so the predators would be confused on where the head actually is. After a couple of minutes, they started to sit or lie down and it’s a sign that they feel no threat. Still, we weren’t able to go very near since zebras are known to be quite violent. In another zoo I went to they were actually segregated from other animals because they are ‘provokers’
Moving on through the rest of the tour, we saw more animals like porcupines, wild boars and turtles and some endemic plants as well but honestly, it’s all a blur since I was still on a high from my giraffe experience!
At the end of the tour, there is a small shop where you can buy some souvenirs like shirts and such. I bought one of course. There’s also a very ‘basic’ bathroom if you need to go.
Overall, this was a great experience for me and would recommend it to anyone who would like a safari experience right here in our country. Some get turned off by the distance etc but from my point of view, it is worth it since you won’t be able to experience anything so up close and personal unless you go to Serengeti or Tanzania.