Also known as ‘Wright’, Paranas is a municipality in the province of Samar that should definitely be part of your Samar-Leyte itinerary. After our epic road trip down the Leyte region, we were itching to explore another area of Eastern Visayas so we headed north trying to capture the amazing landscape and captivating scenery of Paranas. We didn’t expect that this off-the-beaten-path place is also a paradise for adventure and outdoor lover just like us. No doubt that its main attraction torpedo extreme boat ride was the highlight of our Eastern Visayas trip.
Paranas is less touristy compared to other towns in the province due to its location, about 80-100 km away from the two nearest airports – Tacloban City Airport and Calbayog City Airport. The probable reason for this is because the visitors would often go to see the more popular sites like the impressive rock formations of Biri Island and go surf in the east coast. However, what we liked about Paranas that despite having a very poor network service, it maintains its calm and relaxed features; being closer to nature and disconnected from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Next to all those astonishing topographies of Paranas, you can also go see the pristine river of Ulot. Really, Samar is a perfect place for adrenaline junkies. I would recommend that you try the Torpedo Extreme Boat Ride! We found ourselves in awe after all the activities in this region.
How to Get to Torpedo Extreme Boat Ride in Ulot River, Paranas, Samar
From Tacloban downtown, take a van going to Catbalogan. Grand Tours terminal is located at A. Mabini street just across the SM Savemore Market and fare only costs 120 pesos per head. The usual route exits Tacloban through San Juanico bridge and continues on to the National Highway for 1.5-2 hours. Disembark at the Buray junction, you will see a Petron gas station as your landmark. Turn right to Taft-Paranas road using a tricycle for only 30 pesos each (group of 6). The trip takes about 30-45 minutes and you should be aware of the Ulot river jump off point sign that can be found in the left side as some tricycle drivers are still not familiar with the place and network signal is very poor.
Fees and Safety Precautions
Aside from letting you enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience, your safety is one of their priorities, of course. For a fixed price of 1825 pesos per boat, you will be accompanied throughout your Torpedo Extreme Boat Ride adventure. You will be riding with three (3) persons: 1 tour guide; 1 captain or the driver; and 1 point man. These guys underwent several trainings so they are much familiar with Ulot river. They are also strict when it comes to the maximum number of 5 passengers per boat as one of their safety precautions. Since there were six of us, they divided us equally into two boats. Once paid, a representative from DENR will brief you for 15 minutes reminding the things to note before and during the Torpedo Extreme Boat Ride.
Before the Torpedo Extreme Boat Ride:
Wear your safety gears, helmet and life vest, at all times. Removing your helmet is an exception though when jumping in Deni’s point.
During the Torpedo Extreme Boat Ride:
There has never been a case where the boat tipped-over so there’s nothing to be scared of. But as much as possible, don’t stand during the trip as the boat might lose its balance. They also ask you not to stick your hands out during the boat ride. There are branches and huge boulders of rocks along the river. You can just hold on to the bars provided on your sides inside the boat.
Not only are you secured, but also your things, your gadgets specifically. We left our things in the registration area safe and sound. They also provided us ice plastic bags for our mobile phones if you’re planning to bring it with you, but I think carrying a dry bag and waterproof mobile cases won’t hurt, especially if you’re planning to bring along your non-waterproof cameras.
Biodiversity in Ulot River
The Ulot River crosses the largest protected area in the Philippines, Samar Island Natural Par. For a place to be recognized as a natural park, the area should be vast and the natural resources still intact. Astonishing biodiversity exists in the Samar Island Natural Park and those are of a global significance. The quality of water is comparable to bluish seawater, it means that the forest vegetation is intact within the protected area. Samar Island Natural Park, covering over 450,000 hectares across three provinces, is protecting a multitude of species and the largest remaining contiguous tract of old-growth forest left in the country, UNDP Philippines. In fact, in this watershed is where the Philippine eagle was first discovered by British naturalist explorer John Whitehead in 1896. Don’t worry about crocodiles as you’ve seen in the horror movies, we’ve already asked the locals and they say that no crocodile is hiding under the water haha!
The Torpedo Boat
TORPEDO stands for Tour Guides and Boat Operators for River Protection and Environmental Development Organization. It’s a fruit of the initiatives under the Samar Island Natural Park and Samar Island Biodiversity Project. It is an alternative livelihood program for the local communities with the end in view for protection of the last remaining forest within the SINP. The pumpboat or what we call it as ‘Torpedo’ has no outrigger, and is called as such because of how it looks like and the way it traversed the river.
Know more about the project here.
The Torpedo Extreme Boat Ride Experience
The 90km stretch of Ulot river connects Paranas and the town of Can-avid in Eastern Samar was once used as a primary mode of transportation including illegal timber. Now it becomes an attraction to tourists given the scenic view and thrilling experience of Torpedo Extreme Boat Ride. The whole adventure is about 4 hours long, 45 minutes going downstream for 10 km and 1 hour going back to the jump off point. It takes a little longer going back since we’re going against the current.
To reach the Deni’s point is our main goal. It’s where the half part of the fun is: jumping in the mini falls and get carried away by the currents of the river water. The process to get down there was very exciting, too; after getting all the safety gears, we then headed through the river. The combination of the speed of the boat and the strong current of the river makes it more electrifying. The fun part is when the boat almost tips over and when the water splashes all over your body. Once you get there, you will still have to do a short trek all the way to the rocks for about 100 meters before you reach the Deni’s point. Just be careful because the rocks can be slippery. My friends slipped on those rocks. I laughed out loud before helping them up, of course.
Even though we spent only a day in Samar, which is quite a short time for us to stay in one place, we definitely want to go back. I am thinking of visiting the Biri Island next, I guess.
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