Atop the mountains that surround the small coastal town of Sibulan are two pristine Lakes that were Danao and Balinsasayao. Together, they are just two among the many beautiful lakes found in the province of Negros Oriental. Tucked away from the nuisance of the rapidly progressing Dumaguete, they lay unperturbed in the mountains with only the singing of the birds and the tranquillity of nature keeping them company. Hidden beneath the abundance of the luscious rainforest, they are treasures meant to be revered to and protected.
Being one of the major tourist attractions offered in the city of Dumaguete, they surprisingly stayed untouched. Their water is as clear as crystals and teeming with life, it reflects the greenery of the surrounding forest like emeralds shimmering under the sunlit skies. The air smells that of early morning dew or that of trees and of earth after a rain shower and will keep you cool throughout the day. The lakes need I say have stayed in their most natural state with only the presence of small cottages made of native materials and boats ducked at the mouth of the lake serving as signs of little human intervention.
Lake Balinsasayao derived its name from the native birds Balinsasayaw which have inhabited the lake and its surrounding forest for a very long time in the past. These birds are commonly known as Swiftlet and is source to the main ingredient of the world famous Nido Soup, a Chinese delicacy made from Swiflet nest woven using its saliva. Lake Danao on the other hand was named after the native Danao people who were settlers near the lake during the early times.
Lake Balinsasayao is the more accessible of the two. Few kilometres up the mountains from the registration point lies a café that also serves as the viewing deck to the lake. From there the magnificence of Lake Balinsasayao comes into view. To get to the lake however you will have to go down the manmade stairway located at the other side of the road adjacent to the cafe. The stairway is made of huge limestone rocks. Some were covered with moss and can be very slippery.
Halfway through the end of the stairway is a trail leading to Lake Danao. This serves as a shortcut to people who intends to see Lake Danao first. At the end of the stairway are small cottages. They were built among the rocks at the side of the lake. There are also paddle boats ducked at the mouth of the lake and they can be used to explore the vastness of Balinsasayao. On the other hand, Lake Danao is shied ever farther. From Lake Balinsasayao, you will have to walk west along the cottages until you reach the trail leading to Lake Danao. The trail to Lake Danao might take an hour of trekking along a rugged terrain. If you don’t feel like trekking to Danao Lake, you can at anytime paddle through the waters of Lake Balinsasayao on a boat to the other side of the lake from where Lake Danao is more accessible.
THINGS TO DO
Simply enjoying the view of both of the lakes is good enough reason to pay this gems a visit yet these activities may be able to add more spice to your day.
- Paddle Boating – Explore the vastness of Balinsasayao or visit Danao Lake on the other side on a paddle boat. Also try to see the waterfall that feeds both of the lakes with water.
- Get a Foot Spa – The waters of the lakes are teeming with life. Various species of fish live in it and they can be your ticket to a more relaxed stay. Simply dip your bare foot into the water and small to medium size fishes will come swimming towards it to feed on your dead skin cells and callouses. Another reason to say the best things are free
- Camp in broad daylight – Overnight camping may not be permitted but setting up a tent to relax in is not a bad idea either.
- Snorkel – Bring snorkel gears and witness the richness of life underwater.
- Free Dive – Lake Balinsasayao is said to be 80 meters deep and might be good enough to free dive.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Dumaguete you can ride a PUJ (Public Utility Jeep) going to Amlan and get off at the juncture in La-laan in San Jose. Fare is P15 and may take just 15 minutes. From there hire a motorcycle (locals call it habal-habal). 2-way fare is P400 good for 2 people. Be very careful as local drivers can be very mean with their prices. Some of them may charge P400 a person for a 2-way motorcycle ride. If that happens, you can always go back to Dumaguete to rent a motorcycle or scooter. A day rental can cost P300-P350 but that can already take you places.
From San Jose juncture, there is just one concrete road leading to the lakes. The roads are paved but the ascent can be very steep. There are sections where you will encounter blind curves so be extra careful with your driving. You will pass by 2 small villages before you reach the registration point where you will have to pay entrance and parking fees. For those who are bringing their own car, you can just pass through the National Highway going all the way to Amlan. Turn left at the La-Laan San Jose juncture and drive all the way up until you reach the registration point. From there the lakes are just a few minutes away.
WHAT ARE THE FEES TO PAY
- Entrance Fee – P25 (Local) P100 (Non-Filipino)
- Parking – P10 (Motorcycle) P25 (Car) P50 (Vans/SUV)
- Cottages – P50
- Paddle Boat – P350 for 6 people
SAMPLE BUDGET AND ITINERARY
- Renting a motorcycle
- Motorcycle Rental and Gas – P400
- Entrance Fee & Parking (Twin Lakes) – P35
- Entrance Fee Casaroro & Pulangbato Falls – P30
- Food – P200
TOTAL: P665 (can be less if you’re sharing scooter with someone)
- Hiring a motorcyle (habal-habal) and a driver
- Fare Dumaguete to San Jose Juncture – P15
- Habal-Habal and Driver – P600 (Twin Lakes alone is P300)
- Entrance Fee & Parking – P35
- Food – P200
TOTAL: P850 (can be less if you’re sharing cost with someone)
- Day Tour Clubbed with Casaroro & Pulangbato Falls
0600: Wake Up
0600 – 0730: Breakfast. Tidy Up
0730 – 0800: Travel to the Twin Lakes
0800 – 1200: Twin Lakes and activities
12:00 – 1300: Lunch. Rest.
1300 – 1400: Travel to Valencia
1400 – 1500: Casaroro Falls
1500 – 1530: Travel to Pulangbato Falls
1530 – 1630: Pulangbato Falls
1630: Travel back to HOTEL
There you go lovely people. I wrote this post as detailed as possible but if you have other questions, by all means leave them on the comments box below or shoot me an e-mail by clicking this button right here. —————————->
Do see also my post about Casaroro and Pulangbato Falls. And for a more comprehensive budget travel guide to Dumaguete, visit my DUMAGUETE AT P6538 in 5 DAYS: Budget Travel Guide With Side Trips To Siquijor, Oslob and Apo Island post.
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