Kitu-Kito: A Place to UnwindFitness Equipment
Looking for a place to unwind from the hustle bustle of city life? Kitu-Kito is the answer.
Kitu-Kito is located 36 kilometers away, going north, from the City of Puerto Princesa in Palawan Island, Philippines, well-known for its Underground River tour. It can be accessed within 35 to 45 minutes by land on a well-paved highway while having a good view of the beaches at the right side of the road and scenic mountains at the left side. Just a few hundred meters from Kitu-Kito is the viewdeck where one can see a panoramic view of Honda Bay.
What are the attractions in Kitu-Kito? There is a lot to see and do in the place. You may just eat fresh seafoods in their restaurant, enjoy a boat tour during the day or see the fireflies among the mangroves at night , take pictures of the mangroves and the interesting wildlife found therein, or just probably while away the time in their cottage along the river and enjoy the scenery and the passing boats. Or sleep if you may and regain your strength in the quiet place.
The author, an avid photographer, took some pictures in Kitu-Kito and here are some of those he found interesting.
The Boat Tour
Fig. 1. Boat tourists aboard a fiberglass boat in Kitu-Kito.
It was noontime when the author and colleagues arrived in the place so everybody wore sun protection to avoid skin exposure. But if you don't mind exposing your skin and get a tan, you can move unrestrained and get a good view of the lush mangroves and the rich assembly of wildlife found therein.
The boat tour not only gives you a good glimpse of the diverse mangrove species in Kitu-Kito but a heart-pumping close encounter with a notable reptile finding comfort in a bunch of mangrove leaves extending alongside the river. Mangroves are natural habitats of binturan (Boiga dendrophila), an aggressive but mildly venomous mangrove snake. You just have to be calm and approach the snake with caution and respect to get a good shot just like what this author did. The boatman was so good in steering the banca that enabled the author to take a close-up picture of the "sleeping" snake using his favorite Panasonic Lumix LX5 camera. The word "sleeping" is in quotation marks because the boatman said so when the snake was spotted curled on a bunch of mangroves. Upon approach, however, it raised its head and looked at the author with apparent curiosity and bewilderment. It was a beautiful close-up shot the author ever got of this snake (see Figure 2 below).
Fig. 2. The mangrove or gold-ringed cat snake (Boiga dendrophila) curled on its natural habitat of mangrove twigs and leaves.
There are about 8 to 9 species of mangrove species in the area including the following genera: Rhizophora, Lumnitzera, Xylocarpus, Ceriops and Sonneratia. The Sonneratia genus (Figure 3) is called the firefly mangrove because fireflies congregate to feast on its flowers in the evening. This makes Kitu-Kito a magical place at night because of the fireflies.
Fig. 3. Flower of the firefly mangrove.
The bright red-flowered Lumnitzera littorea also attracts the attention of everyone as the boat glides through the serene Nagsaguipit River. These flowers look like lipstick during the budding stage. The author therefore calls it the "lipstick mangrove."
Fig. 4. The "lipstick mangrove."
The mangroves of Kitu-Kito are actually a batch of secondary forest because there are evidences of primary forest type of trees remaining in the area. Logging of mangroves may have been rampant in the area before but the environmental consciousness of the local community as well as national and local legislation protecting the mangroves since the 1990s helped the mangroves regenerate.
Now, different kinds of animals inhabit the river and the mangroves of Kitu-Kito including the ubiquitous half beaks, wrasses, groupers, prawns, crabs, mudskippers, among others.
Visitors just have to make sure they bring an insect repellent with them because of a periodically occuring mangrove insect called "nik-nik" by the locals. Nik-nik (probably the biting midges or sandflies of the genus Culicoides) could be irritating. This presents an opportunity for your body to activate its immune system to counter the itchiness brought by nik-nik. However, if the winds are strong, nik-nik are not around.
So the next time you visit Palawan in the Philippines, see Kitu-Kito, a unique place to be.