Lights Out! Let Them Shine: Ihawig Firefly Watching, Palawan

Let’s go check-out the beautiful and natural lights found in Ihawig River, Puerto Princesa, Palawan! This article will guide you on how to have a DIY and also an arranged tour for Ihawig Firefly Watching.

The Story

This post is a part of  Puerto Princesa, Palawan: A Walk-through to the City of Living God article. Go back to the main article to see more of Puerto Princesa. If you intend, let me show you the lights of Ihawig Firefly in Puerto Princesa using this post.

Sorry for the pictures! We are struggling at low light!

Lights Out! Let Them Shine

When is the last time you’ve seen fireflies? Or, did you already saw one? How about bio-luminescent plankton? Well, you can see them all on this place. Welcome to “Iwahig Firefly Watching, Ecotourism and Wildlife Park”!

This wildlife park is located on the “southern” part of the city. There is no fix means of public transportation going here, especially during night time. If you are looking to go here, the easiest and hassle free way is to get a tour package from a travel agency. Having said that, we’ve gone to Ihawig Firefly via a travel agency that is arranged by our hotel prior to our arrival. If you will ask, yes, most (if not all) hotels in Puerto Princesa can arranged the tour for you.  They will provide all permits as needed, foods, tour guide, transportation, etc. for the tour. More on this on the bottom of this post.

Raz posing beside Ihawig Firefly signboard.

So, here we are now, upon arrival together with our other four foreigner tour mates, we’d been divided into 3 boats, so 3 persons per boat (Me, Raz and Boatman (hehe)), supposedly, the capacity of the boat is 4 person (including the Boatman).  But, Kuya Jim (our tour guide from Maple Travel and Tours) made it sure that there is no “out of place” situation that will ever happen. Hence, he manage to separate us into three groups. That’s a nice move Kuya Jim! 😀

On site, they will discuss to you what are the do’s and don’ts during firefly watching. They will also entertain you and crack jokes with you while waiting. There will be no dull moment here even if if you are last in line. 😀 The tour will generally start at 7pm in the evening everyday, and will end until there are visitors and tourist waiting. The rule here is that you can reserve (via agency or something) for a specific time of your tour. However, if you are not there during the call time, your slot will be given to the waiting list. Basically, it is somewhat a modified “First come, first serve” basis.

After a quick firefly briefing.

The Question

The number one question tourists and travelers always ask will be, guess what? “Is there a crocodile?” Well, I’m one of them. Haha. But, have you seen the Puerto Princesa provincial seal? It’s a peacock sign. That is because Puerto Princesa is the Philippine Peacock Capital. So, I was wondering why they asked for crocodile instead of peacock, don’t you think of that?

A large crocodile in Palawan Conservation Center. Not here in Ihawig Firefly Watching.

Raz: Hey Sonny, have you ever imagined a peacock or a peahen rising on the waters of the Ihawig River? That will be a more nightmare than seeing a crocodile!

A peacock from Baker’s Hill, Palawan.

Ihawig river is a mixture of salt water and fresh water. There is a possibility that crocodles can thrive in the river but the area depth of wherein the Firefly Watching Tour is being done is too deep for crocodiles to be here. Anyway, if that ever happens, you’ll  gonna see them approaching because the water lights up! Why? Find out later. 😀

Fireflies

Again, lights out! This is not a horror movie to see Dianna in the dark. So, don’t shout. Instead, you will see the fireflies just like on the scene on Avatar movie, the “Woodsprites”. Don’t expect that you can capture good photos of fireflies because you really can’t. Unless you are bringing with you a camera with incredible low light performace.  But still, I guess you should just enjoy the view.

Me handling our monopod and action camera that will be a bit useless for tonight. 😀

The sad fact about fireflies is that they only live for approximately two months. But fun of it is, they are flashy flirt, you know what I mean – fireworks begin! Haha. Mr. Firefly to Mrs. Firefly: Life is too short not to do this baby!

March to June is the best place to go as per Kuya Chris (our boatman), they will not only stay on trees but flies along the entire river, you’re so lucky if you catch their best time, just like Arlo and Daddy Henry in “The Good Dinosaur” movie. Of course, you can catch them with your palm but don’t treat them like you are killing a mosquito – that is a terribly bad idea. Handle them with care.

Raz: I’m trying my very best here to act like a firefly.

Constellations

Hey! Don’t forget the stars. They are also part of the tour.  On a star starry night, Kuya Chris (or whoever assigned to you) will show you using a beam of light pointing to sky the constellation formations.  Then you will be asked, “how many of them you know?” Or, “did you know any of them?” Well, be honest if you don’t know any. Ask Kuya and he will happily show it to you the detailed part of Ursa Major, Cetus, Pegasus etc, as a bonus the familiar Tres Marias and Rosary.

Bio-Luminescense

From land, then air.. Now let’s go to water. Let me introduce Sheldon J. Plankton, my partner in filling crime. Haha. Well, he’s in-charge for the entire river’s luminescence because of his billion brothers and sisters. So, thank him for that. Bio-luminescent plankton what they called, they emit light just like fireflies, If you ask me if they do the fireworks move too, well let us google about that 😀 . Kuya Chris will give you a stick; submerge it on water and be a Pinoy version of Harry Potter. Title “The Sheldon Plankton and the Witch” if you don’t like be like Eldar the Witch 😀 You might want to do this if you don’t want the crocodiles to do the lightings for you! Just kidding.

Did you know that the single noun for plankton is plankter? You can’t say planktons for a group of these bio-luminiscent creatures, because plankton is the collective noun for them. Kinda weird. Huh?

Get through your fears to see the beauty on the other side” – (Henry in The Good Dinosaur). Keep this quote, you will appreciate the true night life.

Package and DIY Tour Guide

For a cost of P1,100 per head (complete package with buffet dinner), you can join a tour with a minimum of 6 persons. So, if you are in a small group, you need to wait for others to book the same tour before it can commence. Oh, btw, the travel agency can pick you up from your hotel. The lack of joiners (tourist) isn’t your problem too. Because hotels, inns and travel agencies in Puerto Princesa are interconnected in terms of tour packages. They will, and can arrive in a joiner group meeting the minimum participants. That sounds an advertisement coming from me, but that’s the real deal. Other agencies will try to maximize the van capacity going there, but we are lucky that the agency we had during the tour prioritizes comfort before anything else.

Me: Who’s better for posing with a firefly look?

If you are a hardcore DIY-er, then you don’t want to go with an arranged tour.  You can ride a tricycle for a cost of 600 pesos roundtrip. Then, pay another 600 pesos for the paddle boat and tour guide. No dinner included. However, there is a restaurant on the site but the price of their foods ranges from 200 to 350 pesos per meal. Remember this, the road going to Iwahig is not as smooth like passing on expressway, there’s no street lights. Therefore, I don’t recommend riding a tricycle because I care for you (Ehem!), unless you have strong fighting spirit and you know martial arts, then I can say “GO! BES! Wuu..!”

Our dinner for two in Marianne Hotel through Maple Travel and Tours.

Then, if you ask me if there’s a public jeepney, well, I’m sad to say “none”, there’s a multicab but, they are not routing to the site of Iwahig Fireflies.

Summing it up, you can save about 500 pesos if you are coming in pair. You can cut down cost significantly if you maximize the tricycle capacity (4pax) and paddle boat capacity (3pax). It’s your personal choice if you wanted to be hassle free or do it your own way.

Itinerary

Below is the itinerary we followed for our first day in Puerto Princesa. To view our full itinerary, visit the main article here.

Day 1:  Firefly Watching
9:00 AM – Departure, Dau Bus Terminal
11:00 AM – Arrival, Pasay Bus Terminal; Lunch
11:30 AM – Off to NAIA Terminal 4
12:00 PM – Arrival, NAIA
3:00 PM – Departure, NAIA Terminal 4
4:30 PM – Arrival, Puerto Princesa Airport
5:00 PM – Check-in Matutina’s Pensionne
5:15 PM – Plaza Cuartel, Immaculate Conception Church, Baywalk
-> these places are walking distance from Matutina
6:00 PM – Off to Ihawig
7:00 PM – Ihawig Firefly Watching
9:00 PM – Dinner at Marianne Hotel
10:00 PM – Good Night Sleep

View Sample Puerto Princesa 3D/2N Itinerary.

Expenses Summary

Ihawig Firefly Watching Tour (1,100 x 2) – Php 2,200 (already with tummy-full dinner)
Photo Souvenir (150 x 1) – Php 150

Total: Php 2,350
Per person: Php 1,175

Ihawig Firefly souvenir. You can get you copy for P150 pesos per shot.

We then had a goodnight sleep in preparation for our Crystal Waters of Honda Bay, Palawan: A Half Day Island Tour (DIY)  the following morning.

 

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