Al Gara Cave Visit

DSC_0218.JPG

As what the local Saudi explained, Al-Ahsa is a province and the city within is Hofuf City. So this explanation cleared out my confusion to the place we’re heading to.

Al-Gara cave or widely known to expatriates as Judas Cave is situated in the mountain of Qara, a prominent village of less than 30 minutes away from Hofuf.

DSC_0115.JPG

Our journey started from Jubail on which the GPS map calculated to be 3 hours drive passing Dammam. The wide desert and mountains knocked our fingers to click our cameras. Along the way, there are few tents built and camels were wandering around seeking for green desert vegetation.

As we were entering Al-Ahsa, I noticed that the place was a green vast land planted with date palms. No wonder, this place is the producer of the well known fruit “date”. Oases is abundant in this place so they have plenty of plants. Besides one company, NADA Food Company, was also built here.

DSC_0246DSC_0165DSC_0185

We directly headed to Qara village to see the cave. The village is on the foot of the mountain. Al-Gara cave is the famous landmark of the province and said to be cool in the summer and warm during winter. It also aspired to be one of the seven wonders of nature. The place was magnificent and anyone can enter for free.

After caving, we decided to climb up hills to see what the view on the top can offer. Mohammed, a local villager, guided me in hopping those dangerous cliffs until we reached a place where I can see the date plantation as a whole. I wished to see the whole province by climbing up more but stepping on slopes was more dangerous.

DSC_0219.JPG

Anyway, Mohammed and his group came here for breakfast. They brought a picnic mat. We disturbed them for he volunteered himself to guide us.

Al-Gara Cave and mountain is a worth place to visit especially when living in the Eastern region.

Spying Underground River and Caving in Ugong Rock

SONY DSC

Our tourist guide named Ernie picked us in the hotel at 7pm. On the way, we picked us a couple, and a family with four members. All of us have the same status as explained by Ernie. Booking for Underground River tour should be done a month before of planned vacation. Our group just have booked yesterday so this local guide gave us chances to visit underground river. Anyone can justify that it is illegal but I proudly say, he gave justice to our vacation itineraries. We occupied those names who has booking but confirmed that they wouldn’t come. We’re just like an undercover agents having different identities. Me and my wife having the names of Mr. and Mrs. Narciso Lopez with matching identification card. Very clever!

IMG_0785.JPG

The underground river is in Sabang, two hours away from Puerto Princesa. As we traveled, we passed those roads categorized on how its name implied. The zig zag road, roller coaster road, massage road, and the rocky road. Ernie also surprised us as he is also a puppeteer. He managed to entertain us using his monkey puppet.

IMG_0882

UNDERGROUND RIVER. We arrived in Sabang and we enjoyed ourselves taking beautiful shots while Ernie registered us to Sabang Park, the entrance of the river. After 30 minutes, we boarded a boat going to Sabang Park where wild alligators were freely roaming. They said that there are monkeys too, but we saw nothing during that time.

We headed to the river entrance where we put on our life vests and helmets. A paddled boatman whom our underground tour guide arrived to pick us and started the tour inside the longest underground river which was now included in the Seven Wonders of Nature. I’m seated in the front seat so I’m maneuvering the spot light of the boat. I clearly saw stalagmites and stalactites in vegetation, animals, and biblical forms. Also, the entire cave is with foul smell because of bats and cave birds. The paddling tour took for 45 minutes.

IMG_0809SONY DSCSONY DSC

We were back to Sabang beach with the same boat which waited for us in the park. In the beach, our buffet lunch was served as part of Underground River package tour which costs P1,500 per head. The lunch was so delicious because of pork liempo and chicken adobo. Tamilok, edible sea worm, in vinegar was also served for P100.

IMG_0907.JPG

UGONG ROCK ADVENTURE. “The villagers here are nature destroyer…before”, nicely explained by Ernie. The money earned from every tourist visiting Ugong Rock contributes and helps the villager to do other livelihood instead of damaging the nature.
At the tourist receiving hall, they asked us if we like to do caving, spelunking, and zip line. Caving costs P200 while zip line is for P250 per head. “What is spelunking?”. It is a climbing technique during caving by pulling the body with rope. Everyone in the group agreed to do caving but nobody assured to do zip line. We put on helmet and gloves as required to avoid contact with the growing stalagmites and stalactites. The group started caving Ugong Rock which its name derived from the humming sound when knocking rocks and walls seen in this cave. Ugong Rock Adventure is merely a mountain climbing activity which the final destination is on the top of the mountain.

IMG_0922.JPG

At first, the caving was funny for it was just an ordinary cave. But when we went higher, the steeps, channels, and slopes were getting more exciting. We needed to enter in side ways, climb stairs, and spelunking until we reached the summit for more than 30 minutes.

After the sweaty caving, we took a rest at the shade on the top of the summit. How can we go back? The staffs gave us two options, by going back through the same channels we had passed through or by 11 seconds zip line. Even the eldest in our group preferred the zip line for he felt his knee trembling and tired. Besides, going down is more difficult than climbing up.

DSC02491.JPG

I went ahead for it was my first time to do zip line. I felt nervous. My entire body was almost numb and I closed my eyes when the frictionless motion of the harness begun to slide. In the mid air, I adjusted, relaxed and enjoyed the ride.

We left the Ugong Rock with a smile for most of us were first timers. We arrived in Puerto Princesa at 4:30pm.

IMG_0959-001.JPG

Dinner at Ka Lui is the most suggested food tripping venue by locals. The restaurant don’t accept walk in costumers, so we were advised to book it early. We asked the hotel receptionist to reserve us a table in Ka Lui and we were scheduled for 6:30pm dinner. The place was with native decorations and we entered  the restaurant leaving our shoes on the rack outside.
The foods were excellent especially the Trubattaha salad. They served the food orderly from soup to desserts so our table was never full of serving plates. The best thing here was the food price was cheap though it was a well known restaurant.

IMG_0966.JPG