Adventures and Sports

Philippine African Safari

Palawan

Ida Damo
Ida Damo | May 07, 2013

I have been looking for an old black and white photo of me at 3 years old feeding the giraffe at the Manila Zoo. It would be nostalgic to compare it with my photos feeding Miller the giraffe at the Calauit Safari Park almost forty years later.

Alas, I can’t find that old black and white photo. All I could remember is that back then I barely reached the giraffe’s knee. Not much difference from now but at least now I could reach the shortest giraffe’s shoulder.

Calauit Island in Northern Palawan houses giraffes, zebras, deers, Philippine crocodiles and other animals. It was envisioned in the 70s to be a sanctuary for African animals in a tropical setting.

The park resembles an African savannah with grasses and trees dotting the landscape.

An old jeep serves as the safari tour vehicle.

The giraffes and deers can be hand fed and this proved to be both a great photo opportunity and a touching encounter.

One giraffe favorite was Miller who stayed long enough to consume all the leaves that our guide gathered for the feeding. He was not at all shy to even look at the camera at every opportunity he could get both at the camera and at the food we were bribing him with.

The camera shutters clicked and clicked and he was unmindful as long as he could eat.

The zebras were a different story. Three even turned their backs on us. One group stayed so still while facing the camera. Had we not seen them moving moments ago, we would have thought they were statues.

Again, the camera shutters clicked for these seldom seen animals in tropical Philippines.

Next were the Philippine crocodiles that had Water Monitor Lizards (Bayawak) as cage mates then on to the porcupines, the snakes, monkeys, wild boars and turtles.

Our park guide was Mang Florante who has been with the Calauit Safari Park for more than twenty years. He was very informative and the passion and love for the animals in his care showed each time he talked about the animals.

The passion rubs off on you.

The Calauit Safari Park is in need of supporters to sustain it. Visit the park soon! :)

Being up close and personal with the giraffes and zebras not only make you appreciate them but moves you to be better informed on animals and be better caretakers of this earth we share with them.

Now where is that black and white photo?!

WHAT TO BRING AND DO:

· Comfortable clothes, shoes, hat and sunglasses. The heat can be quite harsh. · Water is a must. Drink as often as you can to hydrate. Just don’t throw your water bottles anywhere. · Camera. A photo with the giraffe eating from your hand is priceless. · Giving bread, candies and other food to the animals is a big NO NO. You will be provided with the proper food to feed the animals. · Leave your animal phobia behind. The giraffes are gentle and so are the deers. The zebras are shy.

WHERE TO STAY:

Dayon Camo Lodge is a good place to stay in and is near the Calauit Safari Park. 0999-880-23-94/0908-471-44-44.

HOW TO GET THERE:

Calauit Island is 45 minutes to an hour from Busuanga Airport in Coron, Palawan.

Major airlines fly daily to Coron (Busuanga) from Manila and Cebu. Fares would range from PhP600 (US$15) one-way on a promo basis or PhP4,000 (US$100) regular one-way fare.

From Coron (Busuanga), a van takes you to the Calauit Safari Park.

Coron has a variety of packages to choose from and different attractions to visit. Make Calauit Safari Park one of your must-visit destinations.

We were fortunate to have a very satisfying package tours/accommodation/guide with Coron Vilage Lodge.

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