Ever since I was a small boy, I have this fascination for the wildlife. And one of my biggest dream is to visit an african safari someday. But that dream has to wait for a little longer (and wait for a bigger budget, too!). In the meantime, I had a good feel of what a safari was when we went to Coron, Palawan last year and made a 4.5 hour land trip from Coron to Calauit Island, passing through some rough roads. Calauit Island is located at the north-western tip of Busuanga Island in Palawan.
We left the town of Coron at around 3:30 AM and arrived a little past 7 in the morning in the wharf where we took a small motorized banca to cross to the small island of Calauit.
The whole island is only 3,700 hectares big and in 1977, was the home to eight species of wild animals from Kenya - giraffes, zebras, impalas, waterbucks, gazelles, eland, topi and bushbacks.
We were greeted by the island’s main caretaker cum tour-guide, as well as a mother and cub calamian deer. It took a while for our “safari” ride to start. The wait only increased our collective excitement.
After a few minutes, the “safari” truck finally arrived and we were off to tour the whole island – once touted as the “playground” of the only son of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. It is advisable to visit this island in the morning when most of the animals are out in the open and grazing.
Aside from the calamian deers who greeted us when we arrived, the next animal we met was the graceful and imposing giraffe. We were allowed to get off the truck and feed the giraffe! That was something …
After feeding the giraffe, we went deeper into the island and met a company of zebras, very wary of us when we approached them but after getting used to us, they just went their merry way.
For me, the star of the safari is the endemic (and endangered) Palawan bearcat or “binturong” – a nocturnal mammal which is a cross between raccoon and a tasmanian devil. There used to be a pair of them here in Calauit Island, but one of them disappeared a few months before our visit – apparently eaten by a hungry snake.
Then, we saw the other animals roaming and romping in the wild …
If you want to get the feel of the real safari, Calauit Game Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary in Calauit Island should be on the top of your list.
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