The rented van came to pick us up at around 7:00 a.m. The ride costs 500 Php per person which we booked through the hotel. One can take a regular van plying the route PPC-Sabang. The terminal is at Fort Wally (the new public market in Barangay San Jose, which is outside the city center). We wanted to be spared of such woe so we decided to just book it from our hotel. There were other guests and a tour guide but they were only on a day trip to the underground river.
Upon arrival in Sabang, the first things you’ll see are the tourist vans parked next to the tourist office near the wharf. There you can get a permit, pay an entrance ticket to the Underground River and book a boat if you haven’t got a permit in the city prior to the trip. Else, the tour operators would have arranged everything except for the boat.
A small cottage with private bath costs 800 Php (Philippine peso) a night. They even have cheaper huts and dorm rooms for bigger groups or family with common toilets and bathrooms. Each cottage was placed away from each other on a large jungle-like garden and looks very nice from outside. It also has a little veranda with a hammock and chairs for sitting outside. Inside was a bed with mosquito net. All the windows were laid with insect nets and that’s quite reassuring since it is still a malaria prone area. Unfortunately, there were some holes in the nets. It was the very first cottage they have and needs some repairs. Electricity is available only a few hours. The toilet and bathroom at the ground level is very basic with a shower that only has cold water. I didn’t really mind the cold showers since it was really hot and humid even in the rainforest and I sweat a lot. Overall it was clean and there was no vermin showed up the whole time we were there (which was the case in some more expensive hotels we’ve been).
All cottages were designed by Dante Ausan who is the owner. I’ve known him personally for over 15 years. Each cottage has a very unique design. The restaurant is the main feature of the place. It is an elevated octagonal shaped edifice made up with local materials (bamboo, wood etc.). The wooden furniture made from driftwoods, dead trunks and scrap woods are just unique pieces all made by its owner.