Polillo Island: Exploring the Caves of Puting Bato

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Approaching Puting Bato Island

 

We woke early for our second day of island hopping in Burdeos, after spending the night camping on Ikulong Island. After a quick instant noodle breakfast we bade goodbye to the very friendly caretakers of the island who had kindly allowed us to stay the night, and then we were off to our first destination of the day – Puting Bato Island, which we had heard boasted limestone cliffs and numerous caves to be explored.

 

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Puting Bato Island limestone cliffs

 

It was a little unclear at first if we were allowed to visit this beach. Our boatman had previously said that it was off limits, however the locals we met on Ikulong Beach insisted that it was OK. Upon arrival we were greeted by the caretaker of the beach who, after some discussion, agreed to guide us through some of the caves there.

 

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The entrance of the first cave

 

He also regaled us with stories of large snakes, and how they were frequently encountered in the caves there. This was enough to scare Claire (who has an intense fear of snakes) to the point that she was considering not going at all. After a bit of cajoling and gentle encouragement, however, we all set off for the first cave.

 

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Surrounding area of the carvern

 

Along the way we stopped off at a hole in the ground that opened onto the roof of the enormous first cave. We threw a few rocks down and listened for them to hit the bottom – as I would see later, it is at least a 60m drop to the floor of the cave from there. If you had a long enough rope you could rappel into the cave through this opening.

 

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Hundreds of bats with glowing eyes abound deep inside the large cavern.

 

The main entrance to the first cave is a huge cavern accessed by scrambling down a steep and muddy slope. Claire stayed at the top to take photographs as I went down with one of our guides. The cave itself is a series of huge, high- ceiling caverns connected by passageways. There are few formations, however large colonies of bats do reside in the caverns, making them rather noisy and smelly, not to mention spooky as you shine your torch up at the ceiling and see hundreds of glowing eyes looking back at you.

 

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Entrance of the second cave

 

After 100m or so our progress was halted by a short 5m cliff that dropped down into a pool of water. The cave continues beyond that point, and according to our guide can be followed all the way to the ocean, however as we had no rope we had to turn back at that point.

 

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Charles and our guide about to enter the dark passageway.

 

A short walk brought us to the second cave, which was very different to the first, but equally spectacular. Whereas the first cave was large and cavernous, this one was small and narrow, but with some truly beautiful formations. Stalagmites and stalactites adorn the walls everywhere you look, and the cave just gets more beautiful the deeper you go.

 

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Interesting cave formations in the second cave

 

Despite its beauty, this cave is unfortunately rather small, although there are some dark corners that may reward further exploration with passage into further caverns. I explored a few of these however they all closed off after just a few meters.

 

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Puting Bato Island is definitely worth a visit for anyone into caving. If your aim is to fully explore the caves, you should bring a rope and harness for rappelling, so you can fully traverse the length of the large cave. There is also a third cave here (which we did not visit) that takes a full 3 hours to traverse according to our guide.

 

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After returning to the beach we set off for our next Burdeos beach hopping destination – Malaguinoan Island.

 

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