FORCE OF NA­TURE

Ad­ven­ture awaits you among the must-see mar­vels of the Philip­pines

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - ADVERTISEM­ENT FEATURE -

DID YOU KNOW that the Philip­pines is made up of more than 7,000 is­lands? An ar­chi­pel­ago di­vided into three main re­gions – Lu­zon, Visayas and Min­danao – the coun­try is en­veloped by the Pa­cific Ocean to the east, the Bashi Chan­nel to the north, and the Sulu and Celebes Seas to the south. From re­mote trop­i­cal is­lands to vi­brant cos­mopoli­tan cities, the Philip­pines has some­thing for every type of trav­eller, and its al­lur­ingly unique ge­o­graph­i­cal make-up makes it a one-ofa-kind par­adise beg­ging to be ex­plored.

A WAY WITH WA­TER

To­gether, the Philip­pine is­lands cre­ate an in­cred­i­ble stretch of coast­line more than 15,500km long; wher­ever you find your­self ex­plor­ing, you’ll never be more than two hours away from one of the coun­try’s idyl­lic beaches. Its eclec­tic coast and crys­tal­clear wa­ters teem­ing with sealife have earned it a rep­u­ta­tion as Asia’s div­ing cap­i­tal, and of­fer un­ri­valled op­por­tu­ni­ties for un­der­wa­ter ad­ven­tures. Dive among daz­zling co­ral reefs in a World Her­itage site, dis­cover hid­den World War II relics and swim along­side a mes­meris­ing ar­ray of fish.

The Philip­pines’ wa­ters are home to more than 500 species of co­ral, 21,000 species of shell­fish and an as­ton­ish­ing va­ri­ety of wildlife, from sharks, stingrays, oc­to­pus and mo­ray eels to par­rot fish, tuna, sweet­lips and li­on­fish. Whether you’re a wa­ter-sports fa­natic or pre­fer tak­ing in the views from the shore – or a boat – the coast is ir­re­sistible to every vis­i­tor. The prov­ince of Palawan in par­tic­u­lar is cel­e­brated for its stun­ning seascapes and white-sand beaches, which make it a fan­tas­tic spot for snorkellin­g, and is­land-hop­ping is a must to ex­pe­ri­ence the full beauty of this part of the Philip­pines.

LAND OF PLENTY

Abun­dant in nat­u­ral trea­sures, the Philip­pines isn’t short of things to see and do in­land ei­ther. In fact, the coun­try was named the best place in the world for ex­plor­ing Mother Na­ture in a study pub­lished by last­minute.com. In the prov­ince of Ca­gayan, you’ll find Clave­ria, a mu­nic­i­pal­ity en­com­pass­ing emer­ald moun­tains, rugged, un­spoiled coast­line and lush jun­gle. Else­where, the seven-cham­bered Cal­lao Cave is a sight to be­hold, while a scenic boat ride down the Pi­nacanauan River, a trib­u­tary of the Ca­gayan River that passes through the Peñablanca Pro­tected Land­scape and Seas­cape, is an­other must-do. For a cap­ti­vat­ing dose of his­tory and cul­ture, head to Ca­gayan’s cap­i­tal, Tugue­garao City.

Other nat­u­ral – and man-made – won­ders that dec­o­rate the Philip­pines in­clude the much-pho­tographed rice ter­races of Banaue and Bu­cari; Bo­hol is­land’s Choco­late Hills – grassy mounds that rise above the tree­tops and turn brown in the sum­mer; hun­dreds of vol­ca­noes, such as Mount Pi­natubo and Mount Mayon (around

20 are still ac­tive); the Puerto-Princesa Un­der­ground River; and a mix of awesome lime­stone rock for­ma­tions. There re­ally is nowhere else quite like the Philip­pines.

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