T’boli kids followed me…
Mischievously, three T’boli kids started following me. Gaye of Pinay Travel Junkie found out about it when we reached the first rest area just passed the Sitio Nabol where T’bolis reside, they were giggling. Who would not follow travel bloggers in an off-the-beaten-trail not accessible to many, plus its in Mindanao, South Cotabato to be exact. No, we are not going to the mountain, this is a trek to Lake Holon, the crater lake of Mt. Parker. We started 1:30pm
Towering trees and rich flora and fauna
I don’t know how it happened but I connect much easier with tribes. Maybe its the smile or maybe they can feel my passion for the indigenous peoples. They followed me until it started to shower some rains they have to go back in their respective homes. We on the other hand, trekked some more… passing by towering native trees, stopping to take a shot of unusual flora and fauna along the way.
The different bird calls was an eargasm for me (trying to be a self-taught birder), with a 10×50 binoculars I tried to look where the chirps were coming from but the thickness of the forest made it hard for me to locate one. What I know was they are just around the area, free in the wild.
After about 2.5 hours we reached the viewdeck from which you can see a reminder of a painful past that ravished a village because of the lake overflow almost two decades ago. Luckily today, that grim was changed with gracious sunny weather and we continued to trek towards the divine lake.
♥ at first sight
The first sighting of the lake was after 30 minutes more and yes it was <3 at first sight. And that made my heart beat faster, tiredness was already sipping in as I just came from a Jomalig island trip the day before. Without proper rest I just relied on my adrenaline, Cloud 9 bars and Gatorade. Along more dense rainforest area I let my ears listen to the tweeting birds, cicadas songs and the mountain breeze. I told myself, “Nature has a telling sound for those who are willing to listen.” Before long, the shortness of my breath began to sing along with natural world. I feel close to nature, I was communicating with the wild.
Then we reached this dilapidated rest area just before the trek down to the Lake. We rested for a while and shared our discoveries of plants, insects and anything involving the past 3 hours hike. Then off we went donw one-by-one on a solo trail towards our destination.
Divine Lake Holon
It gave me goosebumps and I’m sure the rest of the group too. Serene, divine and magnetic where the first words that came to mind.
The tents were already set and the locals were preparing hot water for some coffee before we ate native chicken and tilapia for dinner. Before the sun finally said goodbye, bloggers as we were, we already took lots of photos for the blog, experienced swimming and canoeing around the lake. It was our reward for that long trek. I distanced myself to my blogger friends because I needed to rest.
Looking for warmth
Without a hammock, sleeping bag or jacket I neared the cooking area to get some warmth. Locals started passing around Emperador Lights to combat the cold and I nonchalantly joined the session. I hope this brandy would help my shivering legs. The fresh grilled tilapia served as our “pulutan” and dinner followed. I was already snoozing before 9:00pm and was awaken by Sir Louie of Nomadic Perspectives for a sleeping bag. I didn’t hesitate to take the offer and went back to sleep.
Before Dawn… THIS.
Because of Lake Holon is more than 1,400 meters above sea level, temperatures can go as low as 14C. In fact, that night I awoke at least every hour because I cant take the freezing cold. That was okay as when everyone was already asleep, I saw the perfect picture during the blue hour. The sun is still waking up its minions of sunlights, its a dawning of a new day and the lake was more charming, heavenly, yes, heavenly and surreal. I thanked God for the cold weather. I hurried to get my camera and tried to use the 15-second shutter to have this photo, complete with stars, canoe and the surrounding cliffs around the caldera lake still on silhouette. It is the picture I want to share to you:
I went back to my cocoon-like sleeping bag and tried to save more sleep because I know that the trek down will be another challenge. I woke up when shafts of sunlight began to reflect lago holon. It’s a new day, a new life, fresh energy to explore some more of South Cotabato.
Wild Birds and me day-dreaming
Trekking down or should I say trail-running, I chose to be alone, stopping by when I hear the chirping birds. And yes, this time I saw them- at least eight different species of birds- Brahminy Kites flying high above the cliffs, stripe-breasted rhabdornis, mountain white-eyed, flycatchers, tits, whistlers, flowerpeckers and a parrot. I wish I’m trained to identify add the powerful camera with uber zoom lens so I can share these discoveries. This made me dream of becoming a wildlife photographer (maybe someday).
The three cute kids were still there and still smiling when I passed by their sitio, as I was running because of the rain I just left them with smiling eyes as I sped down hill. We arrived at Bgry. Salacafe drenched with rain (them only as I wore my Spyder Vapor Jacket).
And to say that adventure was over when we reacehd the trail where we started is an incomplete story. We took two habal-habal motorbikes and reached T’boli town after almost an hour of countless balancing acts and breath-taking bumpy rides. We are all safe, and hungry too.
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This tour was organized by AVLDA (Allah Valley Landscape Development Alliance) with Local Governance Support Program for Local Economic Development (LGSP-LED), South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat LGUs. Thank you #AllahValleyTour2013 Organizers.
2-day Itinerary of Lake Holon:
1100 Early lunch at T’boli Town
1130 Register at T’boli tourism office
1200 Motorbike ride to Brgy. Salacafe
1315 Arrival at Brgy. Salacafe / Register (Get guide)
1330 Start trek
1400 Rest at Sito Nabol
1700 Rest at Dilapidated Cottage before trekking down to Lake
1730 ETA Lake Holon Camping Site / Set Camp
0530 Wake up
0600 Swim, Canoe, take photos of Lake
0800 Break camp
0900 Start ascent to Peak
0930 Resume trek to Brgy. Salcafe
1200 ETA Brgy. Salacafe
1300 ETA T’boli town, Late lunch
How to get there to Lake Holon?