Have you always wanted to see the great migration in action but don’t have thousands of dollars to spare? Well, great news! Head to the Philippines instead, where you can experience a bit of Africa in Asia.
When Kenya was on the brink of civil war, several animals were sent to PH for safety, and so began Calauit Safari Park. (One more sinister rumor is that the government imported the animals so one official could have a private hunting ground.) Calauit Island is located on the northwestern coast of Palawan, and opened as a national park in 1977. The goal of the park is to have as little of a human footprint as possible, and so strict guidelines are enforced.
What makes the park truly special is that both African and native Philippine animals live side by side in the park, and the various populations have grown steadily over the years. If you are in PH, I can’t recommend a detour to the park highly enough. Many locals will mention that the park has been overtaken by mainland Chinese tourists, but the number of tourists is still relatively low especially compared to many Philippine beaches.
Getting there requires a flight and a boat ride, so staying on nearby Busuanga is preferable. Much like everything else in the country, tours through Calauit are extremely reasonable: about US$10 for foreigners. You can also stay on Calauit in a small hostel that’s part of the administration building for a small price as well, or camp on the grounds for a dollar to two less. To round out your stay, bring snorkeling gear and dive into the equally rich sea life and wreck sites.
There’s not a bad time to visit, as the weather rarely varies in this area, and the isolation is the perfect antidote to the cities and beaches. And why spend all that money to get to the savannah when you can see it up close just an hour and a half from Manila?
Have you been to Calauit?