The Adventure Begins
The View Deck
The Camp Site
The LakeSalacafe Trail
In early 2019, Major Dibu Tuan of T’boli South Cotabato announced that Lake Holon will be temporarily closed for 2 Months from January 7th to March 10th of 2019.
“Lake Holon deserves a break from the influx of tourists. This is the best way we can preserve the beauty of Holon,” the mayor, a T’boli native, told MindaNews.
The beauty of Lake Holon is now open for the Travelers who seek some adventure and want to experience the gem of the South.
Lake Holon, previously known as Lake Maughan, was declared as the cleanest inland body of water in the Philippines for the years 2003 and 2004. The lake brought significant beauty for the Mount Parker, locally known as Mount Melibengoy, which has an elevation of 5,984 ft above sea level and is listed as Active Volcano.
It is actually my first time to have an overnight hike. I’ve been hiking in Luzon area since 2017 but all of them are just day hikes. I was considering the fact that I have so many things to do for my job and I’m afraid to be offline for just 2 days but now, well I just want to cut that kind of system in me. I want a break, I needed it, we all are. 2 days offline is just like spending my life on a weekend, it is not a big deal at all.
So I informed my clients ahead that I will be off, most of them knew that I’m working every day so if I don’t reply within a day, they will assume that something is wrong. Open communication is essential if you are dealing with your entrepreneurial life.
Okay, let’s go on the trip. I join several strangers in a group that is managed by The Adventours. They are all coming from Davao while I am in Gensan. From Davao, they traveled to Gensan with approximate of 3 hours to pick me up and from Gensan, we traveled to T’boli for an hour.
This is the first stop. You have to be registered in their tourism office before you can proceed to Lake Holon, of course, that is essential in any tourist destination, don’t ask why. While waiting for the registration, you can have a photo opt with the T’BOLI sign nearby, it’s not near though.
The Adventure Begins
From the T’boli Tourism office, you have to ride in a Habal-habal motor for an average of 1 hour and a half, yeah that is long, going to Sitio Kule Jumpoff site. the Habal-habal motor can only accommodate 2 passengers and trust me, it is not easy and you will gonna wish to be the only passenger.
During your ride with the Habal-habal motor, you will gonna face the adventure, extreme one. Some several spots I have remembered in our way; the bridge, the bamboo side, the wavy land, the zigzag route, the Y route, the 80 degrees up, the mud, the dusk, and the hilarious thing is the big tracks coming your way sharing in a narrow road. Your legs will gonna feel weird.
Before the Habal-habal motor experience, you have to have a facemask or handkerchief or anything that can cover your mouth, the dust horizon is coming your way. Unfortunately, I don’t have one. Fortunately, my co-stranger gave me one.
There were two different trails, the Kule trail, and Salacafe trail. In this trip, we will do traverse rather than backtrail so we will be going to take both trails. Traverse is when you take 2 routes, one for ascending or going up to the mountain and you will take the other route for descending or going down. Backtrail is when you only take one route, both for ascending and descending. We will gonna take the Kule trail for ascending and Salacafe trail for descending.
If you are thinking what trail is best for you, I would suggest taking Kule trail first if you want some adventure and extreme hike first. Salacafe trail has the easiest way because it is flat, except for the final station going to lake holon.
When we arrived in Kule Jump off, we had a chance to buy some souvenir and trekking pole and took some photos and had the orientation. It was smooth and then we have oriented well but the person who orients us talks too fast like a rapper. There is also a paid comfort room in the place where you can prepare your self before starting the trek.
The trail we are going to take has 4 stations, namely, the Blete, Elkini, jungle and view deck. The trail is not difficult nor easy, it depends on how physically fit you are or how heavy your bag is, so remember to pack light and just bring the necessary things for an overnight stay. If you happen to bring a heavy bag, you have an option to hire a porter to bring your things, the price is listed above. You can take a rest in every station for at least 5 minutes. In station 1, you can buy drinks and foods to refuel. There is a natural water faucet in your way to station 2 to refill.
The View Deck
Your sweat, leg pain, struggles during the trek will definitely be gone when you’ve reached the view deck. It was one of the best places I have been so far. I was just up there, looking at the beautiful lake, looking at the smiles it gave to my co-strangers, who are now my friends. I found a new tribe and that is one of the reasons why doing this difficult trip is meaningful.
But wait, let’s go back to the view deck, you might think that if you are going to this place means you will definitely have the beautiful scenery, NO, you must consider the temperature, the timing is a must. Morning is the best time as long as it is not rainy because clouds will cover the view.
The Camp Site
We spent an approximate of 4 hours in trekking going to the campsite or the Lake holon itself. Before you reach the lake, there is a Y route or two routes you are going to choose. The first one is the shorter one, the left way, which is going directly to the campsite. The other route is the straight way, the long way, where you have to ride a small boat because the campsite is on the different side of the lake. It means if you are going to take the long way, you will reach the lake first before the campsite. Of course, we chose the longer way because we want some adventures.
We have set up our tents and surprisingly, we all have blue tents. There are tarpaulins available in case of rain, you can rent a tent but I suggest that you just bring yours because their tent may out of stock. We had a little chit chat, knowing each other while cooking our dinner. I don’t have cooking utensils but the organizers surely have, that is the reason why I prefer to be a joiner for camps like this rather than a DIY where you have to bring what you have to bring. We ate by hands, which is perfect for dinner in the mountains, we wore plastic hand wrap, you can use your utensils but trying a different way of eating is a plus for the adventure. Don’t forget that every time you want to have something and ask some porters, it means that you have to pay, so every move must be paid. Just like the hot water for coffee we’ve asked. Just have open communication with your porter.
The comfort room’s location is a bit of adventure as well, it was far but it is okay because there is a reason for it. They don’t want to locate the comfort room near the lake because they don’t want to ruin the lake, it makes sense. So they decided to put it in the upper right side of the campsite where you have to take some steps going up. There is a mini store there and the comfort room is NOT FOR FREE, you have to pay a certain amount of money for taking a bath, or whatever you want.
This is one of the spotlights. I just so love to be sitting with new friends in front of the burning stems and under the starry night. It was a perfect night but it doesn’t mean that it will be always perfect, again, it depends on the weather. You can buy woods for the bonfire in the small house located in the upper part of the campsite, just ask some porters. It was the perfect place to feel some heat in the very cold sanctuary.
It feels contentment, it feels like you exist in this world after all. It feels like you are so blessed to feel those feelings. I was the one playing the music and they are always asking why my songs are very dark and soulful. I told them that it is the best playlist for this kind of trip, it was just weird but amazing. You can play my playlist here: Spotify – Deson
Bonfire is gone but the story continues. Imagine this, laying down with your tribe, the place is so dark, NO ELECTRICITY by the way and most importantly, NO INTERNET OR SIGNAL. So it is only you, your tribe, your thoughts and the sky chasing the falling stars. The starlight is unbelievable, it seems like there is no room for new stars, it was too many. Too many but only some were shining, but still, they are all stars. We are all stars, maybe in that place, only some were shining, but in a different place, those other stars were shining as well. It is you, you will shine maybe not in the place you wanted but in a different place, you have a place, we all have one.
The great thing about the second day is the sunrise as it faces the campsite because the campsite is facing East and it is just amazing. The lake is also the highlight for the second day of your trip. Kayak is available for rent, prices listed above. We went in the middle of the lake, which is so dark and you don’t have an idea what creatures are there at the bottom. Because I am a fan of sci-fi movies, I always picture out that there is a very big octopus there, LOL.
The kayak is easy to paddle, it is lightweight and is made of rubber and plastic material, it will not sink. There is NO LIFE JACKET by the way so it is important that you know how to swim though there is a Lifebuoy, only one per kayak. The kayak can accommodate 4 persons but it depends on the weights. We jump in the middle of the lake, it is hard to go back in the kayak but there is a trick. Don’t climb up through the kayak’s side, climb through the tip of it so the kayak won’t turn upside down. It was fun, I swear. In our case, we rented 2 kayaks and we swim from one kayak to another. The water is so cold but it was a perfect match for the heat of the sun. Again, we just had the perfect weather.
Aside from Kayak, there is a fish spa in the lake. Small fish that will try to find something to eat from your feet, just place your feet in the water and wait for them to do the job. It feels weird, a little itch, a lot of tickles. We just sat there, talking about our backgrounds in life, knowing each other more, while the small fish eating our feet, LOL. I forgot to know the name of the fishes but I’m sure that there are a lot of “Tilapia” in the lake. Locals, there are selling Tilapia from the lake. You can ask your porter to cook the tilapia for you, and again, every service they rendered must be paid. In our case, we decided to let our porter cook the Tilapia for us because he knew how to do it better than us
It was hard to leave that place, I wanted to stay longer but I have to go back. It was a great blessing already, the fact that I was able to reach that place. The Salacafe trail is longer than Kule Trail, the distance is 9km compared to 7km of Kule. Though it is longer, the Salacafe trail is easier. The way is flat from Station 4th to the Salacafe Jumpoff, the only challenging way is from the Campsite to the Salacafe 4th Station because it is always going up. The air is cold, it feels refreshing while listening to music.
We have reached station 1 before the heavy rain starts, we are lucky, so lucky because we can’t imagine ourselves carrying heavy bags which will be heavier if we captured the rain. Salacafe’s station also sells some foods just like the station 1 of Kule Trail. I bought some foods and energy drinks to refuel myself and of course, COFFEE. Lake Holon sell’s their distinctive coffee and I bought it as part of my coffee collections. I’m a heavy coffee drinker by the way and I am so happy to know that the two new friends I have also drink coffee a lot. We just love coffee, LOL.
You are going to ride a Habal-habal motor again to go back to T’boli Tourism.’s office. Before we reached T’boli Tourism’s office, we caught by the rain and decided to stop over and stay for a while to save us from the rain. Don’t forget that rain is inevitable and you must also prepare for it, make sure that your bag has a coat and you have safety containers for the gadgets. Don’t forget to bring medicines as well. Our porter was sick and he really feels not good while we are going down through the Salacafe trail. Luckily, I brought some medicine and gave him one. You must bear in mind that it is important to be healthy and strong before taking the adventure, or any adventure.