When one goes to tour the Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park in Basey, Samar nowadays, one gets to see invariably only the Sohoton Caves and not the Natural Bridge.

That’s because the Sohoton Natural Bridge is further upstream, perhaps a kilometer or so, and can be reached only by smaller bancas during high tide as the river is shallow in these areas.

In most cases, one has to go trekking through the thick rainforest in order to reach the site.

The first time we got to see the Sohoton Natural bridge was about 10 years ago…

Our first time to see the natural bridge with the Asoy’s, Langston’s and Gasco’s – some 10 years back (when Helly’s hair and mine were still really black haha!)

In succeeding trips we would only get to do the tour inside the Sohoton Caves,  after which we’d head back to civilization.

So we never got to visit the natural bridge again.

Until last week.

This time we made firm plans to go and reach the site as a personal objective. Together with Dr. Ricky and Rica Dimayuga – bigwigs of sister agency Lakbay Capiz Travel & Tours, Ludette and I set our minds to reach the Natural Bridge.

The trek was arduous to say the least, not for the physically unfit. It was an adventure of its own.

When we got near to the site the tide was low and our bigger banca could not navigate the shallow river. So we had to trek up the thick forest and cross the river twice! The latter was a bit tricky as the undercurrent was strong and the riverbed is not exactly flat and sandy; it is full of stones. One false move and there goes your camera equipment!

The scenes around the national park, however, is awesome. You are so close to Mother Nature it’s so quiet and serene – all you hear is the steady rhythmic flow of the shallow river, a bird’s call here and there and the cacophony of sounds of some crickets in concert somewhere nearby. It’s brimming with exotic flora and fauna.

The Sohoton Natural Bridge is part of the 840-hectare national park which abounds with awesome geological features such as the huge caves, weathered rock formations and underground rivers.

The Natural Bridge is a huge limestone arch “bridging” two mountain ridges with the Sohoton River running underneath it. Geologists say it is the remains of a former cave passage, with walls and ceiling full of stalactites formed while they were still underground.

It has a vertical clearance of about 7 meters; about 8 meters in width and 40 meters long and the area is generally covered now with lush vegetation.

To preserve its geological features, the area was declared a National Park on July 19, 1935 by Proclamation No. 831.

View better quality photos and slideshow: http://gerryruiz.callezaragosa.com/p454445485

Getting there: Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park is situated in Sohoton, Basey, Samar. It’s a 45 minute drive from Tacloban City across the San Juanico Bridge to the town of Basey, Samar (there are public transport airconditioned vans at the Tacloban Bus Terminal). One registers and pays for fees (entrance, guide, banca) at the local tourism office at the town’s wharf area. The motorized banca trip takes about an hour and a half to reach the entrance area of the Sohoton Caves. It’s another 30-minute smaller-banca trip plus trekking to the natural bridge area.

Travel essentials: Bottled water, food, insect repellent, sunblock, swimming gear, dry bag (to keep cellphones, wallets, ID’s, cameras, etc., safe & dry).

For further assistance: please contact Leyte Gulf Travel & Tours, email: leytegulf-at-callezaragosa-dot-com (replace “at” with “@” and “dot” with “.” ), tel. nos. (053) 523-7966 and 321-7966.

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