Finally a travel post, to Lake Holon.
If you have been waiting for a travel post, here it is. I had been busy since I’m back home, adjusting to life in the Philippines. I have also been working straight for the past couple of months that I was craving for some adventure in my life. And so, Lake Holon happened. In this post, I’ll share my experience of my adventure to Lake Holon, T’boli.
How To Get To T’boli
T’boli is one of the municipalities in South Cotabato. The most convenient and the safest way of travel for tourist is by taking the public bus from Koronadal City to T’boli. Drop off at the terminal and walk a few blocks to the tourism office, just across the municipal hall.
Before commuting or driving to T’boli, make sure to call and book in advance because sometimes, especially during the weekends, there are many guests visiting Lake Holon too. In this case, they will only allow a limited number of people in a day for safety reasons.
For this trip, my friend made the booking and since our plan is on a weekday, there weren’t many visitors. They have a Facebook page if you want to inquire or book a trip.
Register at the Tourism Office
The first step of the Lake Holon trek is logging in at the Tourism Office. The office opens at 8 am. For us, we arrived at around 7.30 am so we waited a little, just resting and chatting. At exactly 8 am, we went inside, confirmed our booking with the staff and logged our names in.
Payment of Fees
The staff instructed us to pay our fees, which include the entrance fee, environmental fee and ground rental with a total of 200 PHP per person, to the municipal office. After paying the fees, we we were given the go signal that we could proceed.
Our plan, as per advised by my professional friend who has been to these trails quite a lot of times, we climb up through Kule trail and go down the next day through Sala cafe trail which sounded good for me. With that plan, we would experience both exciting trails.
However, before we start the trek, we would need to go to the starting point by motorcycle. You’ll see these motorcycle drivers at the back of the tourism office. Just tell them which trail you’re going and trust them that they’ll keep you alive during the ride. =)
Motorcycle Fee & Experience
Normally, they will take two people in one motorcycle for 550 PHP. In our case, we decided to have our individual motorcycle so we would be comfortable the entire ride.
I think the motorcycle ride was like a terrifying adventure already because, in many instances, I prayed silently for my safety. Ha! No kidding. Hands down to the motorcycle drivers there because driving on those roads and trails is not easy. For most of the ride, I held tight and I remember this one terrifying part where we were in a rocky steep, I think I held my breath for 20 seconds that time.
In total, the ride took one hour and a half.
Once we arrived at the receiving area in Kule trail, the volunteers welcomed us and gave us a short orientation before the trek. It is a must to have a guide and optional to have a porter. For bags, you must pay 25 PHP per kilo if you want to hire a porter. But since we wanted to experience the real adventure, we opted to carry our bags. For our tour guide, we paid 600 PHP.
Then, once everyone is ready and everything is settled, the trek begins. Overall, the walk up to the peak view of Lake Holon will take 3-4 hours.
There are five stations in total and in every station, there are resting area or bench.
The first part will be in the corn field.
Station two has hot spring and cold spring though the hot spring wasn’t really that hot at that time. =)
Our guide showing us what abaca looks like which is like a banana tree. What’s funny is we studied about this since primary years but it was only until this trip that I have actually seen one.
Dora Map- See how artistic Filipinos are.
Lake Holon View Deck
This is the fourth station in Kule trail. It has the most incredible view too. When I first saw it, it felt like all my leg pains, sweat, and effort in the hours prior were nothing. The lake is worth everything I had experienced to reach it.
We even spent a long time at the peak enjoying the view and taking photos. It was a good thing that we were the only group that day because we took our time and weren’t rushed to move forward. Hence, I have these many awesome photos of the lake.
Thereafter, our next destination was the camping site since we planned on camping overnight. To reach the site, we took a bangka/boat for 50 PHP/person. By doing so, we were able to get the full experience of crossing or even touching the water in the lake.
At the camping site, you get to choose where you want to set your tent up. If you don’t have a tent, you can rent one. Just tell your guide and they will even help set it up for you.
Food at Campsite
The first thing we did at the campsite was rest for about 30 minutes. By that time, my feet were hurting so I took my shoes off and put on my slippers.
There is a mini store on the site but expect the prices to be doubled or tripled than the original price. Our tour guide offered cooked fish for 80 PHP. The fish called tilapia were fresh from the lake. We ordered them plus our own prepared food of rice and hotdog equals happy tummy for us after an exhausting day.
Our tiny helpful pot.
Don’t fret because they have toilets there too, although, don’t expect toilets like in cities. Also, you need to pay when you’ll use it- 5 PHP to pee, 10 PHP to bathe, etc.
My advice is do whatever you need to do early on when there’s still light because, by nightfall, everything will be dark. There is no electricity on the site except at the store but they turn it off at night. If you want to wash or change, do them earlier. Be prepared because the water is very cold there too.
Second Day: Salacafe trail
I woke up at around 5 the next morning because it was very cold. It was still foggy but when the sun rose, the temperature also increased.
For breakfast, we cooked noodles and tocino in my friend’s mini pot. We, then, packed our bags to get ready for the day.
We walked through Sala cafe trail which according to our guide is a few kilometers farther compared to Kule trail. However, since it is mostly a downhill walk, it was easier and more tolerable to me than Kule trail.
Along the way, I took photos of different flowers too.
Music on the way
There are different things a trekker can do while on a trail. Since this was my real trekking adventure, I have learned to appreciate these activities and I want to share them with you.=) First is of course by chatting with the people you are with. So, trekking is an effective way of catching up with old friends as well as gaining new ones. Second is by keeping silent. There were parts of our walk when we were just quiet and the only sounds we could hear were our footsteps and of nature. I know a part of me is an introvert person so I truly appreciate moments like those as well. Being surrounded by trees and mountains while you kept on moving forward has this calming effect on me. And when it gets too quiet for you, you can play some cool music, even sing along. Maybe in our whole hours of trekking, almost two hours was spent listening to music. I found it very relaxing too.
Whatever you decide on doing, my advice is to just enjoy the moment. Feel the sun and the fresh air. Enjoy the view of the greeneries especially the mountains. After this camping trip, I wanted more of this. So, in the next coming months, I will try to do more adventure trips with nature. I am so lucky that we have several popular mountains and trails where I live.
What to Bring
Upon booking online, the staff will send a list of things you must bring for the trip. If you are a newbie like me, you must bring those for your benefit. An example is a flashlight or headlight. It will be very essential especially at night when there will be no other source of light.
Clean water is also another important thing you shouldn’t forget. Although there was one station where you can get drinking water from, it is still safer to bring your own.
Luckily for me, my friend is an experienced mountaineer complete with all the paraphernalia needed in the mountains. I was so embarrassed for not contributing anything but I promised I’ll be more prepared next time. Because by then, I will know what to bring and what to expect.
Leg/Muscle Pain- The Fun Part =)
Another thing you should expect especially for first-timers is sore muscles, particularly on your legs and back. I had two painful days after the trip that everytime I walked or moved, I fe like I was hit by big rocks. Ha! And of course, I still had to work so I was walking like a snail with my legs straight because it hurt every time I bent my knee. Even when sitting down, I would have to hold onto something because of all the pain I felt. Told you, fun part. =)
Despite all the pain and discomfort I felt, my new experience and adventure to Lake Holon was all worth it. The view from the peak was breathtaking which will make you forget all your struggles to get there.
Love Our Planet
This trip reminded me of how we should be grateful for the planet we live in. It’s beautiful if we take care of it and not abuse it. More importantly, there are indigenous group of people in the mountains too who live simply because they have everything they needed in the mountains. They depend on nature for their livelihood through agriculture and livestock.
If you follow the news, more and more people all around the world are protesting against climate change. All I hope for is that we do our part to help because we or our children & children’s children will still be here on Earth for the next years. How will they enjoy nature as we do now?
I would want them to experience and see what I have seen in Lake Holon years and years later.
To prove that we actually climbed at Lake Holon campsite, at the toursim office, they gave us certificates.
In summary, this Lake Holon climb isn’t like my normal relaxing, unwinding kind of travel because it requires physical effort and dedication. =) Like instead of dining in a restaurant, trying different food, we have to cook our food using the water we carried on our own. It’s very different in a lot of ways yet I’ve learned a lot from this trip. I become more appreciative of the simple things in life- that we have accessible water, for example, and the fact that our toilets are not metres away. =)
That’s all, folks!
For more travel posts, click HERE.