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The majestic Lake Holon

by: Chem Aberjedo

Lake Holon, also known as “Lake Maughan”, is the crater lake of Mt. Melibengoy surrounded by massive trees and mountains. For two consecutive years (2003-2004), the lake was recognized as the cleanest inland body of water in the Philippines. Lake Holon is located in Brgy. T'boli, where a colorful ethnic group known as the Tboli live. Lake Holon has an area of 304 hectares and an elevation of 4,700 above sea level. South Cotabato, the province where Lake Holon is placed, is becoming one of the fastest growing regions in the Philippines. Whether you are a foodie or an adventure junkie, the area has got you covered. For further information regarding this trending destination, contact Hager Travel & Tours.

The travel time from Davao City to Brgy. Tboli, South Cotabato is approximately 6 hours. We left Davao at around 2:30 in the morning and had a short stopover in Marbel to eat breakfast. We proceeded to their municipal tourism office for registration and a short briefing.

There are two trails to reach Lake Holon; one is the Kule trail known as ''the hunters trail”, the other is the Salacafe trail, which is the easier route and ideal for beginners. The entrance fee is 20 pesos and the office has tents available for rent, which cost 300 pesos and are good for up to 3 persons. From the office, our group set off, two at a time, via motorcycle towards the receiving area of Brgy. Salacafe. Travel time for this is about 80 minutes with the motorcycle fee being 300 pesos, good for two persons.

We were warmly welcomed by the community members headed by Pastora Rose who then offered a prayer of gratitude and appealed for a safe climb back and forth. Afterwards, we paid an environmental fee (5 pesos), tour guide fee (300 pesos) and a trekking pole (20 pesos). The trekking pole is an essential tool for hiking since it allows your arms to help propel yourself forward and backward. If you want to experience the convenience of not having to carry around luggage, there are porters for hire as well who charge 20 pesos per kilo of your luggage.

At nearly 10 in the morning, we were all ready and excited to trek. There were four stations that we had to pass through before reaching the viewing deck of the lake. The first part of our hike was quite good, us passing by the locals houses. We are all moved by the sweet smiles of T'boli kids and the way they greeted us using their Tagabili dialect. “Heyu helafus sir, ma’am”, which means “good morning sir and ma’am”. Native food is also available at the first station. The locals sell coffee, banana cue and native rice cakes for hungry climbers.

After about two hours of hiking, we had to catch our breath. The blistering heat of the sun was making us feel a bit tired and uncomfortable. Nonetheless, we kept reminding ourselves that we were there for an adventure and there was no turning back if we really wanted to witness the majestic beauty of Lake Holon. In the midst of the trek, we are all amazed by the melodic sounds of birds, which made us pause for a while and take cover under the beautiful and massive trees. As soon as we recovered our strength, we resumed our journey.

There are rough patches along the way, but it's all worth it especially when you see the overlooking scenery of the mountaintops. Going deep into the forest, we felt the cool mountain breeze. It was very refreshing and the alluring beauty of wildflowers were really pleasing to the eye.

As we ascended further, we were all rewarded by the serenity of the lake as we stood on the view deck. We were all just like “Wow!” Stunned, we almost glued our feet to the ground savoring the breathtaking view of the lake. All the aches and the pains from the climb faded away. We took a short rest on the view deck before we descended down to the campsite area.

After 4 hours of trekking, it felt really good to finally get settled in. The site is really good for relaxation. The lakeshore is very clean and we enjoyed the free fish foot-massage, swimming and kayaking.

We stayed overnight at the campsite area and the following day, we went straight to Bakngeb River located in Brgy. Bakngeb Sitio, Lacohon, T’boli. We went inside the Bakngeb river cave with rafts, which by itself was already another adventure. The river has naturally cold water which comes from an underground cave system and its natural rock formation. Again, we were just absolutely enthralled by the beauty of Mother Nature.

The entire journey was absolutely amazing and it’s one of the best ways of experiencing God’s marvelous creations. It is an absolute must for nature lovers. The more, the merrier. Our extraordinary experience with Lake Holon wouldn't have been possible without the superb work of Hager Travel and Tours, who really proved that they provide their clients with the most convenient service and memorable trips.

For bookings and inquiries, please message us directly or dial these following contact numbers; Globe (+63) 917-5254-613 or Sun (+63) 932-945-1639 and for landline; (+63) 82-224-2202. Book now!