Balsahan River in Puerto Princesa
Balsahan River located in the Iwahig Penal Colony is one of the refreshing places to visit while exploring the tourist spots of Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Philippines. For those wanting to escape the cares of the city and enjoy fresh, clean waters, Balsahan River is an ideal place to go. It has a man-made pool continuously supplied with cool waters while huts are available nearby ideal for vacationing kids and parents to enjoy their meals and merienda.
The lush growth of century old acacia trees line the sparkling waters and provide shade to picknickers. Reports say that some of these acacia trees are more than 200 years old! The Iwahig Penal Colony management ensures the protection of these unique line of trees along the river, spanning almost the whole length of Balsahan River.
Not everyone knows that Balsahan River is home to one of the endemic species of horned frog, the Palawan horned frog (Megophrys ligayae). This frog is listed under the endangered species of amphibians by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). These are not easily seen as they are difficult to discern from leaf litter aside from their behavior of not moving an inch.
The Palawan horned frog in Balsahan River (Image Source)
You also need to be careful in walking along the river side because you might step on crabs hidden among the rocks at the riparian regions of Balsahan River. The freshwater crab's bite can be painful.
Freshwater crab (Parathelphusa sp.) in Balsahan River.
To make your stay more exciting and keep you occupied, you might want to explore the pebbles and rocks around and try to look for the eggs of shrimps present in the area. These are just small rounded objects arranged neatly on the face of rocks such as the one below.
While chatting with friends or silently whiling away the time in Balsahan River, get reminded that the Iwahig Penal Farm allows visitors to stay in the area only until 4 o'clock in the afternoon. When that time comes, you have to pack up your things and bring your trash with you.
Balsahan River is accessible via a rough, gravel road that connects with the national highway going south of Palawan. Inmates nearing release from imprisonment salute visitors as they pass along the road as a matter of courtesy. You will be treated like a VIP.
Balsahan River is 18.4 kilometers from downtown Puerto Princesa. It is a common destination of tourists visiting the prison farm to buy popular wood and plastic crafts made by prisoners after they have passed by the Crocodile Farm or the Palawan Wildlife Refuge and Rescue Center.
©6 March 2011 Patrick A. Regoniel Balsahan River in Puerto Princesa