Calauit Safari- A Glimpse of Africa in the Philippines

Fascinated by African animals in their natural habitat but couldn’t afford to travel all the way to Africa? Well, you don’t have to travel so far to see it. Calauit Safari in Coron, Palawan will make you pack your bags and travel here instead. This is a 2017 Travel Guide to this Stunning Safari.

Tales of the Safari:

On August 31, 1976, under Presidential Proclamation No. 1578, the island was declared a game preserve and wildlife sanctuary. Presumably, the Philippine government was responding to the request of President Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya during a Third World conference for help in saving African wildlife threatened by war and drought.

The Calauit Island was considered the ideal due to its secluded location, its size, terrain, and vegetation. Few feral African animals from bushbucks, giraffes, to zebras that were transported to the island by a ship in 1977. Without natural predators, the population of animals grew after five years, with animals born on Calauit itself. The gazelles and topis, however, failed to adapt and died out by 1999.

Aside from the African animals that were being imported, endangered local species are also protected in the sanctuary which includes some Calamian deer, fresh water crocodile and mouse deer to name a few.

Calamian Deer
Philippine Porcupine

During the Marcos regime, the preserve was funded by the Office of the President directly. However in 2009, the administration of sanctuary was transferred to the Provincial Government of Palawan which changed its name to Calauit Safari Park and has become an eco-tourism attraction.

Experience:

I have been excited to witness these animals first hand in their own natural habitat (not being caged).

I booked a day trip to Calauit Safari at a local travel agency in Coron (name of agency and contact number will be posted below) for a stress-free encounter.

We rode off to Calauit island at around 5:45am and arrived at the island around 7:30am, just in time for the Giraffe feeding.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by the Safari’s in-house guide at the Wildlife Sanctuary Center. The guide will brief you about the short history and the rules and regulations of the island.

One of those rules are:

  • Always approach the animals in a frontal manner, not on the sides. Giraffe and zebras have the tendency to kick when they feel threatened.
  • Always keep distance from the animals.
  • Feed the animals (giraffe) only when you’re inside the feeding enclosure.
  • No littering
The Palawan Cherry Blossoms. This greeted us while we are walking into the Safari zone.

We are on our way into the safari after being brief. By the way, some tours happened to include the Jeep ride inside the safari, but I would suggest to walk your way in and out of the safari to really give you that African-feel. Not only that, I thought it would also avoid the wild animals to be uneasy because of the vehicle’s motor engine sound.

Upon walking into the sanctuary, I was so amazed by the view, giraffes walking without any hindrance, and zebras were just chillin’ at the shade of the trees.

Notice the herd? the 2 zebras by the left and right are back to back. It is meant as a defense strategy to give a better view and watch for potential predators. The one in the center is the herd leader.

1st stop was giraffe feeding. This was definitely the most memorable of all. I was able to get up close with this tall gentle (but deadly when threatened  😁) giants and fed them. If you’re up for the challenge you can feed them by putting the branch of leaves in your mouth and let the giraffe get it, and with good cameraman you may just get a photo that looks likes you’re kissing the giraffe.. LOL.

Its feeding time! Look how friendly they are..
Challenge Accepted: Trying to smooch a giraffe. LOL

After the feeding, we were guided to walk around the safari while the guide will tell you more about the animals, its history and of course more photo ops! Hahaha

Selfie with the Zebras. =)

You may notice that some of the giraffes seen at the sanctuary bore the purple marks of iodine that is actually used by the Park staffs  to treat cuts from the sharp spikes of some local plants.

Remember the Dr. Belo issue of how she accused the current President about the health of the giraffe because she saw a purple dye that she presumably said that the giraffes were unhealthy because of the dye? Well this explains it. =)

As much as I want to talk to you everything about it, I would not want to spoil everything to you. See and experience it for yourself. It may be a little bit more expensive than the other tours that is being offered in Coron, but it is definitely worth it! I promise!

Getting there:

From Manila: One can take an airplane to Busuanga (Coron) via PAL or Cebu Pacific or sail your way via 2Go.

From Cebu: In the past, there were no direct flight to Busuanga (Coron). However, just this 2017, PAL and Cebu Pacific are now offering direct flights.

Calauit Safari can be reached by either land or sea from Coron Town Proper. Though the former is more accessible than the latter due to weather conditions that will unable the boat to sail to Calauit Island. Aside from that, the former is a tad cheaper.

Now, a DIY is possible but I personally would not recommend it especially if you’re in a tight schedule and a tighter budget. Hihihi😁. What actually hesitates me from doing a DIY tour is that I really hate haggling for the price of transportation from the locals going to the island since there are very little public transportation that will reach there, and if you’re a solo traveller like me, then its really not recommended as you will be paying all the expenses to yourself.

Pass Island
Japanese Gun Boat Ship sunk during WWII.

There are many local travel agency in Coron that offers a Calauit Safari tour with side trips to other attractions. I booked mine from Be Cool Travels and Tours. So far, they are the cheapest with the most attraction to be visited for its price. Believe me, I scouted. 😉 It cost me 2,300php via land travel with the following inclusion:

  • pick up and drop off at your hotel
  • roundtrip van transfer from Coron Town to Calauit
  • boat fee going to Calauit Island
  • All entrance fees and environmental fees
  • Tour in Calauit Safari
  • Island Hopping tour: Lusong Gunboat Ship Wrek, Lusong Coral Garden, Pass Island
  • Concepcion Falls
  • Lunch

Exclusion: rental fee for snorkel and fins and other personal expenses.

TIPS:

  • Bring your own snorkeling gear to avoid added expenses.
  • book this tour in advance as only few tourist visit here due to the price.
  • based on my own experience, their lunch was plain. It was stated as a buffet lunch but it wasn’t. Maybe because we were only 6 tourists at that time. Later, I found out that the 2,300php price is only applicable for 10 and above tourists but since they did not reached the number of pax, they slightly compromised our lunch. But it only made a small impact to me though, it didn’t bother me that much as I also understand that they paid for the whole day use of the van as well as the boat for the island hopping. But, if you’re a group of 10 then it will be a different story. You can always clarify the inclusion before booking.
  • Price range for this tour will be as cheap as 2,300php to as high as 3,000php. Although, each travel agency will provide you different inclusions of the tour. However, due to budget constraints, I chose the cheapest with the most attractions to visit. Just to give you an example, some travel agency offers 2,300php with the same inclusion as stated above but the tour is limited to Calauit safari, a waterfall visit and a church visit in Busuanga area but includes a Jeep ride in the safari but does not include any island hopping tour.

Note: I already raised my concern to the owner regarding the lunch that we experienced and understood their point as well. This is also the travel agency that I booked for my Ultimate Island Hopping tour in Coron which turns out to be awesome and not to mention the lunch was pretty good already considering I only paid 1,200php for it. 300php cheaper than the usual travel agency I scouted. So personally, I would highly recommend them.

 

Be Cool Travel and Tours

  • Contact Number: 0927 463 1170
  • Contact Person: Ms. Cherry

 

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