Hours away from the busy Davao metropolis lays a secluded paradise known as Lake Holon. It is located in South Cotabato, a province in Southern Mindanao.

With its tropical charm blended with its freshwater ecosystem, Lake Holon is a great choice for a retreat or any adventure.

As we continue with our travel guide series, allow this author to tour you to this must-visit destination. Here are the top 7 reasons why you should visit Lake Holon.

Photo: Fechi Fajardo

1. Witness a view like no other

We all know that Mindanao has a lot of scenic places to visit, and we’ve documented them all in our Car Rental blog posts, but Lake Holon will still leave you in awe. Take your pick (and take a pic from your camera) from its crystal clear blue waters to its surrounding green pastures. Everything about this place is enchanted!

From the lake itself, you can also witness a view like no other from the top of Mount Melibingoy — also known as Mount Parker — the mountain that surrounds it. The stunning and picturesque view of the place bears a resemblance to a paradise. One can actually say this is heaven on earth.

Photo: Jirasupiter

2. Experience mountain trekking

Getting to the best view of Lake Holon requires you to walk by foot, and this in itself is an adventure. First, you need to head to the T’boli Tourism Office to register. A short orientation follows after that and you will be asked to pay a certain fee before you proceed.

You have two choices here: the easier route known as the Salacafe trail, or the more challenging route, the Kula trail. I happened to choose the latter. I was accompanied by my friends so I didn’t mind the long walks.

The Kule trail is roughly 7km long and it will take you 5 to 6 to hours of non-stop walking. If you prefer this route, you need to be at the T’Boli Tourism Office no later than 12 noon as no hikes are being allowed past that.

Salacafe, on the other hand, will only take you 3 to 4 hours so it is much more advisable especially for those who prefer shorter trekking time. From here and back to the T’boli Tourism Office, you can choose to ride a horse for only P400. A habal-habal or motorcyle ride is also available for P300, and this is good already for 2 passengers.

Regardless of which of the two you end up choosing, I assure you that it will be a memorable experience!

Photo: Explora

3. Experience the T’boli culture

A trip to Lake Holon isn’t just any other trip. It’s educational and exploratory. It’s an immersive experience and you will learn a lot about the colourful and storied culture of the locals here. When we visited a year ago, we were treated with so much hospitality by the T’boli natives, who by the way act as travel guides. They were so kind that they allowed us to live like them. Yes, like living like actual locals — like one of them.

We got to experience feasting and interacting with them, as well as sleeping like a true T’boli royalty. How amazing is that? We also got to see how talented their young children are as they danced to the traditional music played by their talented musician mothers. It was just great to see so much talent and so much love for their culture. We can only hope that they will continue to nourish and safeguard their rich heritage.

Photo: Biyahilo

4. Have a taste of the T’boli’s native dishes

No adventure is complete without food, right? In this case, it’s not just any food, but delectable native dishes that tell stories of the history, culture and lives of the T’boli tribe. The locals here are very big on native chicken and for good reasons. The meat of a native chicken is proven to be more nutritious than that of commercial broilers. They are also more flavourful.

From their signature heklafak, which is roasted chicken marinated in herbs and spices, they also serve their own chicken tinola, a common dish across the country but more organic and healthier.

But perhaps one that really should be tried by tourists is their llolot anok, a dish where the chicken is drenched in herbs and is placed inside a bamboo while being cooked in live charcoal. Now, it sounds a bit exotic, I know, but it tastes really great. And for the T’bolis, it’s comfort food that is best eaten and shared with other people. In this case, visitors of Lake Holon.

Photo: Jirasupiter

5. See the cleanest inland body of water in the Philippines

Yes, you read it right. Lake Lohon’s 300-hectare wide body of water, which sits at 1,756 metres above sea level, has been hailed as the cleanest inland body of water in the country — so clean that you can actually drink it straight from the lake. No kidding!

No less than the Philippine government awarded Lake Holon that title and it happened twice — first in 2003 and then 2004. Furthermore, it was also named one of the world’s “Top 100 Sustainable Destinations” by Green Destinations, global non-profit foundation that promotes sustainable tourism.

Photo: Jirasupiter

6. Do swimming, kayaking and canoeing

Ever wonder what it is like swimming in the cleanest lake in the Philippines? Well, you are actually permitted to do so, albeit with caution. Swimming is great to observe Lake Holon and its God-given beauty. Note that you can only do it during daytime and swimming after dark is prohibited for safety reasons. It is also advisable that you have the proper gears for protection so make sure to add them to your must-bring items.

If you’re not really interested in swimming, you can also try kayaking. Enjoy the fresh air and water without any trace of littering and pollution while paddling in a kayak through Lake Holon. A kayak can be rented at just P200 per head.

Now, tourists who don’t like to do either of both may choose to do boating. Canoeing provides a fantastic view of Lake Holon. There’s not a lot of effort here. You just need to relax and enjoy sight-seeing. There is just nothing quite like enjoying nature’s splendor and seeing with your own eyes its reflection on the surface.

Canoeing is available at Station 5.

Photo: Jirasupiter

7. Experience overnight camping like never before

End your day with a relaxing and amazing camping experience with a scenic nighttime view of Lake Holon. Campers here are very much accommodated and allowed. You just need to secure a tent from the T’boli Tourism Office. It is not for free and you have to rent it, so make sure to rent one upon your arrival. Of course, it’s best if you can bring your own.

If you love the idea of resting in nature, camping overnight in Lake Holon is really a great idea!

How to get to Lake Holon 

Interested in visiting Lake Holon? You have two choices: take the bus or rent a private vehicle.

1. Taking the Bus

From the Davao Ecoland Terminal, you can ride the bus that passes by General Santos. Trip will be around 5 hours. The bus is bound for Korinadal-Marbel so take note of that. From there you need to transfer to a van with a sign board ”Direct T’boli”. This will take another hour of travel time.

2. Renting a car

Commuting just to get to Lake Holon is a bit of a hassle so renting a vehicle is more advisable. After all, the whole point of travelling is to experience new things and have some fun, right?

If you need one for your trip, contact Car Rental Davao. Whether you’re travelling to Lake Holon alone or with family, on a short or long-term car rental basis, we can secure a unit for you. If you’re based in Davao, we can drop off the unit at your preferred location, or if you’re flying straight to the city, we can also have the unit picked up at the airport.

By choosing to rent a car, you can shorten the trip to 4 hours, or even less. And you will surely have a more comfortable and relaxing trip.

How to contact the T’boli Tourism Office

Landline: 083 237 1205
Mobile: 09072832968

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