MOST likely, when we say we’ve seen crocodiles, we mean that we have seen them inside a cage, or fence, or the zoo. But not here in Palau, one of the Philippines’ closest neighbor.
Last Sunday, I added another adventure to my list of how-to-make-the-most-of-your-time in Palau and that included my recent experience through the Jungle River Boat Cruise in Ngchesar State, which is just around a 30-minute ride from Koror – Palau’s capital city.
Sundays for me has no in-betweens. It could only be a lazy one or an adventure-filled day. The last time, it was the latter.
After a Sunday run with the members of the Civic Action Team (CAT) and a few civilians, two of our Palauan running buddies had invited us over to go cruising in the jungle river of Ngchesar and see some crocodiles. The invitation was music to my ears – it was my kind of adventure, and so you know what happened next.
I packed my stuff, of course I can’t leave my camera behind, and went on a car drive to Ngchesar with the rest of the group. Our group was composed of 12 people with mixed race, which is good because no one likes racism.
When we reached the place, we were welcomed by the sound of a bird cawing from a few distance. We followed the steps down to the hut and there we saw the source of the loud noise - a white cockatoo placed inside a cage. Beside it was another cage with a fruit bat happily munching on ripe grapes.
While waiting for the others to arrive, we had the chance to see a baby crocodile on the puddle enclosed in a small fence just a few meters from the hut. It was like a sneak peek of what was ahead of us in the trip.
Finally, when all were set, we had beaten our lazy bones on a short trek in the middle of the jungle to the end of the trail where the boat awaited us.
Once on the boat, you’ll get the “feel” of the popular classic film “Anaconda” as the place emits the same vibe. The placid dark waters were decorated by nature with mangrove and other wild plants I couldn’t name. But don’t worry, it was a safe trip assisted by experienced crew.
There were few silent moments - with no sound except for the groaning of the boat’s engine as it cut across the river, the occasional snapping of the cameras, and the cries of unknown species - while everyone was caught in anticipation of seeing crocodiles. No one was talking but you could see pairs of eyes carefully examining every nook and cranny of the jungle river.
And right there, after a few minutes, a moving object glided in the water just a few distance ahead of us, sending trickles to the water and chills to the sight-seers. A little closer and we could see the unmistakable head of a crocodile as it swam towards us. I got the feeling that the crocodile seemed to know that we had some food for it as it fearlessly came near our boat, eyes moving like it was waiting for some food to fall from heaven.
And it was right as one of the boat crew tied a chicken flesh on the end of the stick and hang it just a few inches above the head of the crocodile. Upon seeing the fresh chicken meat, the crocodile hopped from the water to get the food, hence giving the sightseers a good view of the crocodile’s body. We saw it jumped for every piece of food that was offered to it a few more times, then, when it’s had enough, it would vanish in the water without a sign.
The boat would continue following the trail until we would bump into another crocodile again. The same thing would happen. The boat crew would offer it a fresh meat and the crocodile would eagerly jump for it, sending excitement to the tourists. We were lucky to have three crocodile sightings for the cruise. There was no doubt about it, my $10 were not spent for nothing.
If one must experience the Jungle River Boat Cruise in Ngchesar, Palau, then I suggest that you should go there in a group as it would cost you less money but more fun.