We were privileged to have been invited to experience first-hand what promises to be the newest and most exciting tourism activity in Eastern Visayas – the Ulot Watershed Ecotourism Loop at Paranas, Samar!

In a pre-launching run of the Ulot Watershed Ecotourism Loop held yesterday, November 24, 2010, officials from the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) and local Dept. of Tourism headed by Director Karen Tiopes together with tour operators and members of the media got to experience the loop’s torpedo boat adventure ride into the rapids of the Ulot River – the longest river in the whole island of Samar.

One rides the rapids downstream using the “torpedo” boats – canoes with no outriggers – over a distance of 10.5 kilometers and back again (upstream) for a total of 21 kilometers.

The whole exhilarating trip took about 2.5 hours.

We had lunch-break at the route’s end point amidst the natural beauty of the cascading cool waters of the river rapids with thick virgin rainforest surrounding us. Naturally, we jumped into the cool waters for a refreshing swim. Whew!

Aside from the excitement the river rapids ride generates, what makes the boat ride truly remarkable is the natural scenery the route provides to visitors. One passes thru pristine and unspoiled evergreen rainforest – the natural habitat of exotic flora and fauna!

Ulot River is Samar’s longest river with a total length of 90 kilometers. Counting its numerous tributaries, it’s total length has been estimated to reach over 500 kilometers.

The river is located inside the protected area covered by the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP), created by PD No. 442 (August 13, 2003) – an area considered one of the country’s top botanical diversity centers.

SINP’s total land area is 330,300 hectares with a buffer zone of 125,400 hectares for a total of 455,700 hectares encompassing 36 municipalities in the 3 Samar provinces – Samar, Northern Samar and Eastern Samar.

The natural park boasts of some 38 species of mammals (50% endemic), 215 species of birds (55% endemic), 51 species of reptiles (69% endemic), 26 species of amphibians (52% endemic) and over 1,000 species of plants (53% endemic).

To those not yet familiar, Samar island is the 3rd biggest island of the Philippines, after Luzon and Mindanao.

The Ulot Watershed Ecotourism Loop is the latest offering of SINP.

Aside from torpedo boat adventure ride, the Ulot Watershed Ecotourism Loop also includes such activities as kayaking, tubing, swimming and inland game fishing along the rugged and unspoiled waters of Ulot River.

They offer packages which include the entrance and community development fees, rental of the boats, kayaks and tubes, life vests, protective helmets and other equipment, and the services of tour guides and boat men.

There are rooms available for rent at the SINP Headquarters.

The ecotourism loop is set to be formally inaugurated and opened to the public on November 30.

HOW TO GET THERE:

The Ulot Watershed Ecotourism Loop is located at Campo Uno, Brgy. Tenani, Paranas, Samar. Driving along the Maharlika Highway between Tacloban City, Leyte and Catbalogan, Samar, one takes the road headed towards Borongan, Eastern Samar at the road junction at Buray. The SINP is some 16 kms from the Buray Junction. Travel time by car from Tacloban City, Leyte is about 1.5 hours.

CONTACT INFO:

Samar Island Natural Park, Sitio Camp Uno, Brgy. Tenani, Paranas

Samar 6703 Philippines

mobile: 09177027467

email: sinp.tenani@yahoo.com

web: www.samarislandnaturalpark.com

For further assistance, inquiries and tour reservations, please contact Leyte Gulf Travel and Tours, (053) 321-7966 & 523-7966 or email leytegulf@callezaragosa.com.

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