LAKE HOLON: An awe-inspiring JOURNEY to PARADISE with kind-hearted STRANGERS.

Another day has come as the king sun slowly disseminates its light as it mark another journey. Uncovering another Gem that lies ahead of me as it waits for my two little itchy feet to have freely traipse on its stunning scenery. I have long been waiting for this time, and excitements are actually looming overhead as I chase another memorable day. I’ve been planning to visit Lake Holon way back when it wasn’t yet famous, but I couldn’t fight with an unseen adversities.

Photo Credit: Reniel B. Suana

Grinning from ear to ear as I distinctly see the firmament above, expecting it to just coordinate for it has been raining like cat and dog for the past days. As I acted my way to Lake Holon, there were also group of travelers who fell out to challenge themselves for another weekend. A group of friends like around an age of 18-20 who seems to be so energized on their journey,  so as me. They eventually became my friends and they feed me during my overnight stay at Lake Holon. Their kindness was freely flowing in their veins as it moves out and manifested outside.

In Tboli Tourism Office, we went there for a registration, which we didn’t know that we should have our registration beforehand cause they only allow a maximum number of campers at Lake Holon. The safe thing was they were kind enough to permit us to climb to Lake Holon.

Tboli Tourism Office

Lake Holon or formerly known as Lake Maughan is marked as the cleanest lake in Region 12 and one of the National finalist in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and ranked first in the 2003 and 2004 search for the inland bodies of water in the whole Philippines archipelago. The crater lake has an area of 304 hectares and more or less at an elevation of 4,700 feet above sea level and had a turquoise clear water, free from trash and dirt and offers panoramic view that will surely give you a pure bliss and tranquility.

In order for us to get to Lake Holon, we bear to ride an almost one hour of Motorcycle going to the jump off area. From there, we had our orientation by group, conducted by a well dressed and beautiful Tboli girl on her Tboli attire. She informed us about the trail, what to see and how challenging the trail is.

There are two trails going to Lake Holon, the Kule Trail and Salacafe trail. If you desire to see the panoramic view of Lake Holon, you have to choose the Kule trail which is more difficult than Salacafe trail. The easy trail is Salacafe, but you won’t take the chance of viewing the lake in an overlooking state completely. We opted the KULE trail going to Lake Holon, but on our way back, we took the  SALACAFE trail. Every group should have a tour guide for a price of PHP600, they also have porter if happen you bring many things and you can’t manage to fetch them all going to the lake, the price is PHP20 per kilo.

Tboli girls wearing their Tboli attire

A 2-3 hour hikes through the most beautiful portions of the forest as we made our way to Lake Holon. We passed by to the different stations like around 5 stations before reaching the stunning beauty of Lake Holon, and the camping site area. I’ve seen a bunch of beautiful and well grown big trees while the most awaited scenery is resting on its innate state lies ahead of me.

After a backbreaking trek, where we had worked through a challenging trail as we started to ascend and finally we have survived and we made it to the 4th station, which is the viewing deck of Lake Holon. I couldn’t elucidate how I caught myself in awe as I’ve viewed the lake like as if, I’m gazing at the beautiful painting executed in fresco. Truly, mother nature never fails to amaze me.

Reniel, Carlo, Carmela, Paul, Jhenry, Kesha and Kwen

We rest on the viewing deck and just savor the stunning view before we descend down going to the campsite area of Lake Holon. It was an hour of a trek from the viewing deck going to the campground area where we experienced the genuine beauty of the forest, the cold winds touching our surface while the birds freely chirping above us, it was soothing and everything about our sojourn is really an awesome experienced.

Photo Credit: Paul Samillano
Photo Credit: Reniel B. Suana

We had at last reached the coastline of the lake and in order for us to get to the camp site, we need to ride a boat for a price of Php 50 for each passenger. What impressed me was the clear water of the lake, very calm and truly a piece of paradise to behold. Upon getting to the campsite area almost 2:00 pm, we set up our tent and prepare for lunch as well. The dark clouds was looming overhead was seemed to be very teed off and ready to let go of its anger, then a sudden strong wind and rain came as they unite with their miscreant behavior. Some tent were being vitiated as the tarpaulin are being squandered by the strong wind.

Kesha and Jhenry while on their way to the Camping area
The Camping area

The dark is filling the whole space as it commemorates the coming of the night. While the whole space was filled with darkness the temperature was slowly changing. We all clothed with the coldness brought by the wind that really made us beg for the presence of the heat, so we then started doing a bonfire to mitigate the strong presence of coldness. The night has traveled fast and I was called by my sleepy eyes. The evening species was all I have heard until I was lulled to a deep slumber.

Our kind of Bonfire

Morning has arrived and everyone in the camp area is waiting for the sunrise like an angry fire waiting for the water to be killed. The sunlight slowly disseminating, as if it is saying hello to us while slowly getting out behind the mountain range of Mt. Melibengoy or known as Mt. Parker. The sunlight touching the calm lake that really wowed us since the lake was seems to be shimmering under the welcoming sun. Everyone was in truth in awe because of what their naked eyes have witnessed, even I myself didn’t stop clicking my camera to hopefully take the one of a kind experience.

Photo Credit: Paul Samillano
Photo Credit: Reniel B. Suana

Some are already fixing their tent while some are busy preparing for breakfast and unending photo shoot almost everywhere. The place is actually a perfect  spot in wherever angle you want for a photo shoot, it’s like a 3D scene as your backdrop. Soon enough we had our breakfast, satisfying our stomachs before leaving Lake Holon so we will have enough energy to trek again going to the receiving area. Some of my mates were enjoying the lake as they decided to do some swimming session before leaving the lake. I was about to join them, but I decided not to, since I find the water very cold.

From left side, Kwen, Jhenry, Kesha, Paul, Carlo, Carmela and Reniel. Enjoying a boodle fight breakfast before leaving Lake Holon

On our way back we took the Salacafe trail which is about 2-3 hours of trek depending on your pace. The trail is not as challenging like the one in Kule, but I guess it’s a bit far. We have at last arrived at the receiving area where we rested for a while and go back to Tboli tourism office to get our Certificates as a proof that we have conquered the challenging and yet amazing experience to Lake Holon. Everyone of us are grinning from ear to ear as we marked another travel experience that we will surely cherish forever.



I would wish to thank this group of travelers for helping me all through out the journey. They have been so kind to share their food and everything that they have brought with them. To Kesha Collen, Areno Jhenry, Carmel Ann, Kwen, Paul and Carlo, thank you guys for being so kind to me. I wish we could meet once more for some other adventure. These people have proven that one of the great things you can surely gain when you travel is meeting strangers with good hearts and you’ll gain good friends after an adventure. Precisely like the saying posted in one of the tree that says “Meet as a stranger and leave as a friend”. So I guess our friendship started the moment we have met. Thank you again guys for being so kind and would love to see you all again on my next Mindanao trip.



Major Airlines are flying to General Santos City almost every day.  From General Santos City International Airport, ride a van going to SM for only Php 150 fare. As you reach SM, ride a tricycle going to Bulaong Terminal and  fare is Php10. From General Santos City’s Bulaong Terminal, ride a nonstop bus (Yellow Bus Line), bound to Marbel (Koronadal City). The travel time is around 1 hour and Php 75 fare. As you  arrived in Koronadal City, travel straight to the Van Terminal and take the one that bound to Tboli. Asked the driver to take you directly to the tourism office in Tboli, since it’s a bit close to the Tboli Terminal. The travel time is around 45 minutes to an hour and the fare is Php 100.



  • Contact the Tboli Tourism office before going there since you require a reservation beforehand.
  • You better start trekking as early as possible so you won’t meet the heavy rain on the way, especially if you travel to the following months: August, September, October, November and December.
  • Pack light, simply bring the necessary things during your trip or you’ll end up paying 20PHP per kilo if you’re going to request for a porter to bring your things.
  • The Kule trail is really challenging, especially if you don’t have any experience in trekking so you might as well prepare if you’re going to Lake Holon.
  • Lake Holon is not an easy drop by spot where you can go there in the morning and depart in the afternoon. You really have to stay overnight if you desire to experience  the amazing innate beauty of Lake Holon.
  • Bring your own tent, food, water and necessary utensils. Also bring flashlight, power bank for your gadgets, make sure your camera is fully charged, please do not forget to bring your jacket cause you need it badly at night.
  • You need a tarpaulin to cover your tent because it will rain anytime during the nighttime. You can rent when you arrived at Lake Holon for Php 150 good for 2 tents and Php 100 for one tent.
  • During my visit there were actually some who are not responsible for their garbage. Please make certain to bring your garbage bag and be responsible enough. I likewise noticed that there were some campers who left plastics of their shampoo, toothpaste and other garbage near the flowing water which is really a big NO.
  • Please just enjoy whatever our mother nature provides, but never forget to take good care of it.


Website: HOLON. Email: or . Mobile Numbers: +63- 912-4731-515 or +63-912-7204-151



  • General Santos City to Koronadal City- Php 75
    Koronadal City to Tboli- Php 100
  • Tourism Office Registration- Php 10
  • Tourism Office to Jump off point (motorcycle good for 2) – Php 450
  • Food – Php 300
  • Travel Guide (good for 10) – Php 600
  • Note: If you travel alone, you can join with other travelers to save some money like what I did.  
  • Boat ride – Php 50 
  • Receiving area to the Tourism office (motorcycle good for 2)- Php 350
  • Tarpaulin to cover the tent –Php 100


          TOTAL EXPENSES IF YOU TRAVEL WITH FRIENDS (8person) Php 1,110. 


NOTE: This blog post is part of my 10 day solo backpacking in SOCCSKSARGEN last September 9-19, 2016. You can as well check some of my travel journey and stories during my 10 days backpacking with the link below. 



  1. Beautiful photos of a beautiful place. The pictures of the lake reminded me of our hike up Mt. Pinatubo to see the crater lake. That was such a memorable climb for my whole family. This one gives me the same vibe.


  2. I learned a lot from your post. Having trekked just once the experience of course was exhilarating but, I just learned with your post that we could’ve avoided sleeping on wet tent floors if we had brought some tarps not just to cover the floor and also the tent’s top. Lol, we were so drenched and I was having a high fever all night. Your post brought the experience back to me.


  3. Everytime i read your travel posts, i am mesmerized by the beauty of our country. Honestly, i haven’t heard these places in my entire life. All the while i thought it was in another country. Amazing how you were able to visit each and every corners of Pinas. Is this your job? Really? Ahahaha! I wish too, someday to explore our own land without limits and hesitation.. Your photos are always lovely! 🙂 (sometimes i wanna grab some of it and use it as a wallpaper hahaha)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much for all your lovely comments. How I wish my job would be traveling and exploring the hidden and unexplored places in the Philippines. Traveling is really my passion and will surely showcase more of our country’s hidden gem. You just made me smile. Thank you so much for that. Oh sure, you can grab some, thank you for letting me know.


  5. Goodness the Philippines are really having their moment on the world travel scene. And rightly so. What spectacular scenery! Fabulous photos and tips. I am very much looking forward to visiting this part of the world some day soon


  6. Woah! I was thinking while reading this, where is region 12. Haha. Mindanao is stunning and beautiful. I do hope that tourism there will be strengthened to attract more tourists. The lake is beyond amazing ❤❤❤

    Amae –


  7. Looks like a very fun trip! I like that you gave some travel tips at the end! And you’re right… mother nature never fails to disappoint us with beautiful views!


  8. Man, that’s such a beautiful place! I wanted to go and hike there ’till I read that it’s in General Santos City. 😦 That’s too far from me, I need to save up first. I am not really an active person but my recent trip to Masungi Georeserve has got me wanting to climb more mountains! 🙂


  9. I love this article for so many reasons. First, the photography is absolutely stunning and makes me want to fly there right this second! Also I really love the shoutout you gave to your fellow backpackers who helped you get through this trip, that is so awesome 🙂 Finally the budget tips at the end are so practical! Great article Ariel!


  10. I would love to do the same hike as you did to lake Holon. Even if it was hard, it’s worth it for those amazing views. Camping in the wild is a great way of making new friends and get a bit of a digital detox. That camp fire looks like a lot of fun also.


  11. Lake Holon is indeed a beautiful place! Together with my workmates, we will be visiting it next month. Your guide will definitely help us with the adventure. Beautiful pictures by the way! 🙂


  12. Nice to see Lake Holon. I’m pretty sure that I will do the same thing when I see the beauty of the lake, I will take pictures non-stop. But then I realized that I won’t visit this place because I don’t think I can take the motorcycle ride and hiking. hehehe! I have never tried camping but I tried glamping just to experience sleeping on a tent.


  13. WOW! I never knew that we had something like this in the Philippines. It’s so beautiful and so perfect, it’s almost like it’s photoshopped! My reaction will be a lot more OA if I saw it siguro with my own two eyes. I’ve always been afraid to go to Mindanao so that’s why I’ve never been but you’re blog posts has totally changed my opinion.


  14. Your second photo captures the beauty of Lake Holon so perfectly! I also loved the outfit of tboli women. Long time never tried out such tribal costumes…Sigh!


  15. Lake holon. What a beautiful lake. Reminds me of the only lake I’ve seen in my existence, Lake Balinsasayaw eheh. I hope I could see more lakes like you do. I lake it!


  16. General Santos is one of those places I’ve never been to yet. Now I know what to visit when I finally go there. But since the trek to Lake Jolon looks quite challenging, I’ll let my son grow up first so he and my hubby can all go there together. 🙂


  17. What a gorgeous location! Your photos are stunning and they reflect very well the beauty of the place. I appreciate you so much for giving the tip about collecting the garbage…It’s such a normal thing to do; however, many of them forget their manners home (I guess). Great informative article!


  18. Your photos looks like it’s taken outside Philippines. The scenery are all so calming and very nature-ish. Isn’t it nice to meet other travellers when you travel? New friends and thinking that they also enjoy what you enjoy. These are just some of the perks we have when we travel. Also, the picture looks like the crate of Mt. Pinatubo.. I thought it was actually Mt. Pinatubo. Such a cool getaway you have there! 😀


  19. That’s gorgeous and really great as it’s the cleanest lake there. Glad you got to see it from above and swim in it too! Great tips at the end. Love when people make sure to leave the final round up pointers to remember. ^^


  20. My list for the Philippines keeps getting longer and longer. I went to the Philippines for the first time last year and I totally fell in love with it. I only went to Luzon + Cebu and I was only there for a couple of weeks, but the next time I go (hopefully within the next year) I’ve got a massive list of new things to see – including this now! Lake Holon just looks absolutely beautiful! I love the idea of camping out there.


  21. I love this!!!! dawn over the mountain, sleeping next to a lake and in that beautiful nature. I also really like the way you write, like poetry its so nice. What a beautiful place really amazing. I am also in awe at how you have set up your information, it’s very handy for travelers!


  22. Seems like a great company! I love everything about lakes because the views are always amazing. The calm water and the blue colors! In Sweden we have a lot of lakes and we are going to move to a house close to a lake. This is the reason we actually move there; because of the lake!
    As you can see, I really love them!

    Best regards, Sabine


  23. Stunning! Pretty impressive that the tourism office lets people go for a swim yet still maintained its cleanliness. I also want to try out soon to get to know new people while traveling. Great!


  24. Aww I sooo envy you right now. I really wanna go to Holon. I think I’ve mentioned here before that we were planning to go last summer but due to sched conflicts with my friends, it did not happen. I don’t think I could ever go there alone though. I don’t have the courage yet. Lol. Kudos to you Lai! 🙂 Lake Holon is truly beautiful.


  25. You know we would have gone here to Holon with an outdoor group but the event will be happening after we have come back here in Cebu. We were scared to do it on our own as we might run short of money. Maybe next time. It’s a really beautiful place.


  26. Let me start by saying, “Woooooooow!” I seldom say wow on my journeys. I usually say, “Nice!” or “Cool!” but not wow. I only reserve it for tourist spots that would really make my jaw drop! I haven’t been to Lake Holon but from your pictures, I can say that it is very beautiful!

    I wouldn’t mind going for the Kule Trail to see the lake and going home through the Salacafe trail just like the way you did. I would love to use the porter to carry my stuff. Hahahaha! I really hate trekking with a heavy bag. Yep, you may not like me for that Lai but I don’t care. Hahaha!

    I wish I could “kuyog” you in one of your adventures, together with the addk HIBsters! Hahahahahhaa!


  27. Wow.. never tried trekking in my entire life.. Wanna try something like this next year (hopefully). And this will be on the list..after cebu.. haha.. mahal man kaayo..
    THANKS Lai from experience, expense breakdown and complete details on how to get there.. ikaw na


  28. That’s another great discovery you got there, Lai. Lake Holon is very pleasing to the eye. Great for meditation and perfect for those who wanted quiet and peaceful place to think.


  29. Totally enjoyed this long read Lai! Kanindot bitaw sa feeling anang maka friends kag strangers and they even helped you. I would like to experience the same thing soon! Ganahan na nuon pod ko mag travel ug mga places nga dili sikat. Daghan pajud kaayo ingon ani na places sa Philippines, just as stunning as Lake Holon.


  30. I was pretty pleased to locate this web page. I wanted to thanks for your time for this wonderful read!! I absolutely enjoying each and every small bit of it and I’ve you bookmarked to have a look at new stuff you weblog post.


  31. I’m impressed, I must say. Actually hardly ever do I encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you could have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the problem is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I’m very blissful that I stumbled throughout this in my seek for one thing referring to this.


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