“Every journey has its story and this one makes it one of the best!”
Lake Holon, located in the highlands of TBoli, South Cotabato unveils an amazing creation, not only by its natural beauty but also as a huge blessing to the people that surround. This adventure did not only provide me the adrenaline but also gave me the goose bumps as I was able to indulge deeper the benevolence and culture of the gem.
We were at the hype of our #GenSanVenture when we have to leave early dawn to embark on an adventure. As usual, I didn’t totally research about Lake Holon because I wanted to be surprised. Luckily, I have my friends – Bean in Transit and Trip Bisagasa (who we just met from Digos City) – with me who did most of the job.
I don’t wanna talk about on how we got to the registration area because there’s nothing really special about it except the transfers from bus to vans to a rollercoaster-like motorcycle ride. Instead, I’d like to focus on how the real deal started, when we arrived at the Receiving Area of Kule Trail.
*Photo with Local TBolis
Lake Holon has two commercialized trails – Kule Trail and Salacafe Trail. Most people take Kule Trail or also known as Hunter’s Trail going to the lake and exit at Salacafe. Kule is one of the remote sitio in Brgy. Salacafe and its trail is considered to be the most difficult rather the other. It usually takes 4-5 hours of hiking going to the campsite. Also, this trail has 5 stations where one of it has the best spot to view the lake.
*TBoli Tourism Office
Also, we already paid all necessary expenses except guide and porter fee in the Tourism Office before we went to Kule. All drivers of the vans know the process so it’s not a problem at all.
*Local Information Officer briefing tourists and trekkers
The adventure started after we were briefed at the Receiving Area of Kule. All the worries were wiped off as the local TBoli blessed us with a prayer. Everyone is excited and couldn’t wait to go for a remarkable journey.
The sun is up but the clouds were gloomy. It’s like there’s a celebration in the heavens, as the elders say. The first part was a bit high ascending into an open trail thus the heat of the sun easily drained our energy. Luckily, we were able to eat our breakfast before we went to TBoli and had few trail foods as refreshers. I and Hanna are trekkers thus this is not new to us. We were actually a bit worried to our joiners (we met a couple at the Registration area and decided to merge our groups to lessen the expenses for the guide) because they were not used to this kind of adventure. Nevertheless, I’m actually happy they made it until the end (oops! Spoilers! Haha!)
REMINISCING MT. PULAG AND THE FEELS AT THE VIEW DECK
The time flew like a swift of an arrow that we didn’t notice it’s been hours of trekking. We reached the second and third stations and had few rests and refreshments. We continued to walk, walk, walk until our legs and stomach started to tremble. It’s almost noon luckily the fourth station or also known as the view deck is already within our eyesight. We were pumped up and didn’t stop the momentum. It was almost 70 degrees assault and my knees really trembled. I reminisced the moments in approaching the summit of Mt. Pulag. The high ascent was not an issue that time and all I thought was the excitement of achieving the summit.
“Ahh!”, I shouted a few with heavy exhales to endure the pain. The rain even showered a few moments before reaching the view deck. “Konting konti nalang! Push!”
“Wow! Just wow!” I was jaw dropped and my eyes sparkled. The trembling of my knees and the crunch of my tummies went away as Lake Holon lay on my eyes. It was definitely worth the 4-hours trek! It was surreal! The humongous green mountains that surround the blue lake seemed to be a fantasy. I’ve never seen so much beauty of the nature like Lake Holon. It was even a bit foggy when we arrived that we have to wait for a few minutes.
Luckily, there’s a store at the view deck that offers native coffee and local food. I bought not only one, but TWO local food because I’m a bit starving (like how I’m feeling right know while writing lol). Surprisingly, it made me full and I don’t feel having my lunch yet knowing that it’s already past 12 noon which is somehow a miracle. Hahaha!
Good Gracious God! The fog went away and we went back to the view deck and soaked in the beautiful Lake Holon. People also started to arrive at the view deck so it’s a bit crowded. However, people there RESPECT each other and greet ourselves with a smile. That’s one of the things I’d always love to do during adventures!
DESCENT TOWARDS THE CAMPSITE
Ourselves could not contain the happiness upon seeing the lake from afar, how much more when were just beside it? Hence, we headed to the last station where we will ride an “Owu” or the traditional boat going to the campsite.
The seemingly endless descent from the view deck was no joke because it’s steep and slippery. Luckily, our crazy side brought out and made our trek fun as we got to learn few TBoli words and phrases. Special props to our guide who happened to be a Literacy teacher and Pastor that happily shared us few words in TBoli. It’s always fun learning new language especially when it is considered to be ours. It then marked our cultural immersion which the love I henceforth discovered.
The group rode the traditional boat for a few minutes going to the campsite. The trip was aspiring and jaw-dropping as we pass through the surrounding mountains. The water of Lake Holon is impressively clean and blue. People are allowed to swim and kayak across the vast body of water.
THE GLORIOUS CAMPSITE EXPERIENCE
It was around 3 o’clock when we arrived at the campsite. We set up our tents and we had our lunch. Every one of us relaxed and were rejuvenated as the cold breeze and amazing view welcomed us. The night approached luckily we had our guide prepare our dinner. We bought fresh Tilapia from the lake and had it fried. We were so lucky because we were so ready that we did not bring any food to cook and even utensils. Haha!
The heavens were so generous to give us the view of the Milky Way. It was one of the astonishing moments of my Lake Holon trip and I love it! We did not stay up late at that night because the next day would be another set of adventure.
THE HEART-TUGGING EXPERIENCE
“Ciji”, someone whispered from the outside. I was half-awake and I checked my phone. It was 4 in the morning and I remembered that TBolis previously invited us for a benevolent happening. It was one of the most amazing and heart-tugging moments I’ve ever been. TBolis having their worship in front of a bonfire and in front of the grandiose Lake Holon as the sun gradually rises was one of the best things I ever seen in my four eyes. I’m not a religious person but witnessing such compassion and love the TBolis show was enough to get me teary-eyed. It was magical and surreal. Lucky how these people got to celebrate life and being blessed with such glory of the lake.
In Lake Holon, there’s clean air, clean water, and stunning view. It may be far from civilization but there’s nature to be thankful for. The abundant source of Tilapia and the number of guests for the local’s income is I think enough to celebrate life and glory of creation.
We may not encounter this kind of lifestyle in our Everyday, especially us who lives and struggles in the city, let us help preserve our natural resources and take this not for granted as it helps everyone. We may not stop what’s coming, but we can help to slow down the process for the benefit of the future generations.
PLEASE WATCH MY VLOG HERE!
If words aren’t enough to describe our experience, please watch my vlog.
Day 1 –
4:30 AM – ETD Eusebio Bulaong Public Terminal, General Santos City
5:50 AM – ETA Marbel Terminal
6:20 AM – Breakfast
6:45 AM – ETD to TBoli
7:45 AM – ETA TBoli Tourism Office
9:20 AM – ETA Salacafe Receiving Area
9:50 AM – ETA Kule Receiving Area – briefing and preparation
10:30 AM – Start Trek
12:20 PM – View deck
1:00 PM – ETD to Station 5
2:00 PM – ETA Campsite
Onwards – camping, dinner, lights out
Day 2 –
4:00 AM – Worship
6:00 AM – breakfast and prepare to go
8:00 AM – Start Trek
8:35 AM – Salacafe Trail View Deck
10:30 AM – ETA Salacafe Receiving Area
11:45 AM – ETA TBoli Receiving Area and going to next destination
- Guide Fee is a bit expensive for small groups. It is better to make friends with small groups and merge to minimize expenses.
- Prepare for a 4-5 treacherous trek. The trail consists of either muddy or rocky ascending and descending pathways.
- The guiding and porter services can be acquired at the receiving area.
- You can go for a swim at the lake hence prepare for extra clothes.
- Contact Tboli Tourism Office to reserve a slot.
- The campsite has traditional kitchens where locals can cook food for you.
- They also have restrooms for personal necessities.
- Please practice Leave No Trace!
Bus Fare from General Santos City to Marbel Terminal – P85
Van from Marbel to TBoli – P60
Entrance Fee – P100 per pax
Environmental Fee – P50 per pax
Guide Fee – P600 per 10 pax
Tent Fee – P100 per tent
Fresh Tilapia – P50 per bundle
Porter Fee – P20 per Kilo
Total = P445 excluding guide and porter fee
TBoli Tourism Office
0907 283 2968
Thank you and happy travels!