The Iwahig Firefly Tour is managed by a cooperative of youth whose family member is a prisoner of the Iwahig Prison. Most of them are trained volunteers, knowledgeable about the river ecosystem, fireflies and mangroves as well as the constellations. They only not make a profit for their community, but they also protect their environment.
The Iwahig Firefly Tour is not as popular as the other tours like the Underground River, City Tour and the Honda Bay Tour. But I think it is one tour one should not miss when in Puerto Princesa.
Just before dinner we were picked up by Kuya Jomat, a tourguide and driver we met at the Underground River Booking Office, at our Bed and Breakfast, Casa Fuerte.
We arrive at Iwahig river and was greeted by a small information booth where you pay Php 600 for banca. Good thing, Kuya Jomat made reservations already at their office, we were accommodated right away.
There are also small huts good for picnics while waiting for your turn in the river cruise. We were early so we didn't have to wait that much.
We were provided with lifevest for safety purposes and Salakot which is optional. I required my family to use the salakot for photo ops. =)
Iwahig River is eerie quiet. You could hear the crickets sing while your tourguide will tell you about the fireflies. While cruising the river, my mother was very concerned of a possible crocodile living in the area. There are no crocs yet it is a protected area because of the mangroves that are abundant in the Iwahig River. And these mangroves serve as dwelling places of the fireflies. There are 2 species of fireflies at the Iwahig River. That is only about 0.1% of the total species of fireflies in the world. Fireflies are sensitive to pollution so having a firefly as abundant in the Iwahig River only tells that the river ecosystem is not polluted and alive.
Imagine hundreds or even thousand of fireflies luminate a mangrove tree like a christmas tree in December. There was a point when the boatman flash a infrared light to a mangrove and boom! all of the fireflies light up all together. Our guide explained that it is actually their defense mechanism. While I argue that they actually identify themselves to a predator, he said that it is power by numbers that protects fireflies.
But kidding aside, this tour should really be on top of your list. Do yourself a favor. If it is not included in your package, you can request with your agency for one. The tour costs Php 1500 per person. If you are in a big group, hire a van at Php 1500 and go straight to Iwahig, rent a banca for Php 600 (good for 3 pax) and you'll have a grand time with the glowing insects
Iwahig Firefly Watching Tour
For bookings kindly contact Nelia David: 09106001686
Jomat - 09185725598