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Giraffes and Zebras Running Wild in the Philippines

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Related posts to this Story:
Day 1 - Coron: Better Than Boracay?
Day 2 - Giraffes and Zebras Running Wild in the Philippines
Day 3 - Trekking Mt. Tapyas and Soaking in Maquinit Hot Springs
Coron Itinerary
Coron Expenses

We woke up before dawn (2:30am) the next day to get ready for our 4-hour journey to the tip of the Calamian group of Islands, Calauit. On retrospect, I suppose it's better to visit Calauit immediately after your arrival in Busuanga because it's nearer, probably less than an hour by land.

Anyway, we made our way through the dark to our boat. I had forgotten just how many stars there were in the sky until I looked up that night. The sky was just full of tiny, twinkling, bright lights. The night was cold but I fell asleep soon enough since there wasn't anything to see just yet.

I alternated between waking and sleeping until the sun was up. We got drizzled on several times but I didn't really mind. The only real problem we encountered was when we were already near Calauit but our boatmen forgot where the entrance was. We got stuck in some of the shallow coral and had to maneuver the boat to deeper waters. We also had to ask a fisherman where the path to Calauit was.

Fortunately, we didn't waste much time, and were finally heading towards the correct direction after a while.

The entrance fee to Calauit is Php 250 per person and the safari truck rental was Php 1000. As we headed towards the huts where we planned to eat our breakfast, we already spotted several deer, zebras and giraffes roaming freely. We instantly forgot about breakfast and hurriedly posed with the animals. Hehe.

After a while, the safari truck arrived, carrying other visitors. There were two Filipinas and a foreign couple. It turned out we were to join their group for the tour. They waited for us as we ate breakfast while the tour guide talked about the animals in Calauit.

I learned that the giraffes were flown from Kenya and on their adjustment period, the caretakers would line up several endemic plants of Calauit and observe which ones the animals ate. Those plants they chose were sent to Manila to be studied for nutritional content, or possible harmful effects like abortion. If it was harmful, the plant was purged from the area.

The oldest giraffe (18 years old) was named Max, who was also the lead male and currently courting the female Isabel. His patches were darker than hers. I also noticed the giraffes used their long, black tongues to break leaves from branches.

Me feeding Max. Behind him is Isabel.

After our quick tapsilog breakfast, we hopped on the truck with the other guests to explore the sanctuary. We stopped by a group of maybe a dozen zebras and watched as they ran around chasing each other. We couldn't really get close to them because they moved away but I was fine with snapping a few photos.

My favorite time was feeding the giraffes. They tugged hard on the branch I was holding so I needed to keep a firm grip. Greedy animals. Lol.

Other species in the safari were Porcupines, Civets, some land turtles, monkeys, the Philippine wild boar (the tour guide said they are more delicious than our current pigs) and four freshwater crocodiles.

The Zebras
I found it also interesting when our tour guide showed us a camouflage tree, said to be found only in the Philippines, whose patterns looked exactly like the those from military uniforms.

The Camouflage Tree
My boyfriend also observed that all the trees looked like well-tended garden ornaments because the branches were all trimmed to the same height as the giraffes. Lol!

When the tour was over, we thanked our kind tour guide and divided the 1000 cost of the truck with the Filipinas and the foreigners.

Black Island
It was time to go island hopping again and we decided to have our lunch on Black Island (entrance Php 150 per person). This was another pretty white sand beach but a little treat we had from this place was the cave. It was probably a deep cave but we didn't have lanterns to go exploring like we did in Sagada so we just stayed near the mouth of the cave and had our photo shoot. There were lots of mosquitoes though, so be sure to bring insect repellent. The corals along the beach were dead so this isn't really a good snorkeling site but it was still nice to swim around.
Black Island Cave
Our next stop was Pamalican Island (no entrance fee). This was a beach all around but like Black Island, the corals were dead and there were lots of seaweeds. Nice place to go seashell hunting, though.

We then headed for the Coral Garden (free entrance) to snorkel. Here, the corals were definitely abundant, some were really huge, although there were patches of dead ones, too. There were lots of fishes and I enjoyed exploring here. There weren't any sea urchins like in Siete Pecados.

Our last stop for the day was the Lusong Gunboat, a shipwreck from WWII. During low tide, the tip of the shipwreck protruded from the water. It was so close to the surface that by mistake, our boat sailed over it, effectively scraping off a small part of the wood. Our boatman had to jump into the water and remove the splinters and assess the damage. Meanwhile, I was enjoying exploring the shipwreck. The gunboat lay on its side and coral had grown all over it that at first, I didn't recognize it as the shipwreck. I thought it was just another coral reef. Surprisingly, this area also had the most fish that I had seen. I even saw those fish that swam vertically, like little twigs. We fed the fishes the remaining rice from our lunch. Diving here would probably be a great experience.

And then it was time to go home. This time, we got rained on several times and I mean a real downpour. It was chilly but otherwise okay.

After taking a shower, we headed to a little Japanese restaurant recommended by our lodge but I honestly didn't like the food. I would have probably enjoyed more at Tokyo Tokyo or Yoshinoya.

We didn't have anything major planned the next day so I was looking forward to sleeping without bothering to wake up early.


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