Lake Holon: Photo Story, Sample Itinerary and Updates

So, you want to go hike to the volcanic crater of Mt Parker (locally known as Mt. Melibingoy) and live a moment in the mystic 304 hectares Lake? You're in for a great eco-adventure!

I've just completed my 15th climb to the crater lake last week. I don't mean to brag, but yeah, it feels good knowing I scaled the same volcano and trekked down to its crater of pristine fresh water several times and still feel the same natural high I felt seven years ago. It's not about the number after all.

READ: Why Lake Holon is more than just your Regular Trekking Destination

I asked myself the same question I got from friends and fellow outdoor junkies: Do you not get tired of exploring the same mountain again and again? Anthony Bourdain's one-liner is my quick answer: "there's no such thing as too much of a good thing". Just imagine virgin forests, century-old trees, tranquil volcanic crater and billions of stars at night.
An opportunity to climb the same mountain for the nth time is just like an invitation to try a new adventure. Every climb is a new experience, that is.

I'm sharing to you here some essential infos and sample itinerary that might be of help as you plan your first time or perhaps your next first time climb. Also in this post are the list of bird species in the lake's vicinity as documented by bird photographers Sirs Jovic Ferrer and Jeniel Buday who were with us during the recent climb. Sharing to you also a photo story of my climbs through the years.

Reflect. contemplate.
Lake Holon at night
Unfortunately, some exotic or foreign species of fishes have invaded the lake. I was told some people from the local government were the culprits.

READ: Why Lake Holon is more than just your Regular Trekking Destination
Mountain Trail Infos

Location: Barangay Salacafe, Tboli, South Cotabato
Trail Length: 7 km
Trail difficulty level is rated by at 4/9, Trail class 1-3. Trail falls under Minor climb category.
Highest Peak Elevation: 1756 masl 
Trail Peak Elevation: 1600+ masl
Lake elevation: 1300 masl
No of Hours required: 3-4 hours
Campsite's carrying capacity: 50 persons

Lake Holon, surrounded by rainforests, is just as unpredictable as it is. Sometimes it will give you a gentle weather, a great sunrise to behold and a clear surreal view of the lake. Sometimes it will just let you stay inside your tent or get you drenched in the rain or chill in 10 degrees cold.

As an Eco-adventure Destination

The lake has recently been recommended by tourism stakeholders in the South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat, the Allah Valley region, to be included as a Special Interest Eco-adventure destination under the Eco-cultural Tourism Program of Allah Valley Landscape Development Alliance. Meaning, strategies are being discussed to enhance management of the mountain and the lake as a destination notwithstanding its protection and conservation. 
Up for discussion by tourism stakeholders are the review of fees, setting in place the official mountain guides and porters and their corresponding rates, security concerns, transportation, use regulations, appropriate tour packages and promotions needed.

Hanging on to an old wooden canoe. This was during  my third  camping to the lake in 2007

Lady hiker Evelyn trying to cook. Look at the pot. We did't have an outdoor cook set back then. 
Hike for whatever purpose you have in mind. Just respect the mountain and practice the Leave No Trace principle 
 A peek from the danger side 

Fees and Expenses* 

Registration Fee:  P20 (pay upon registration at the Tboli Arts, Culture and Tourism Development Office)  
Mountain Guide Fee: *P300/person/day  
Porter Fee: Php: 200/person/day OR depending on the weight of your luggage. Regular limit is 15 kg per pack/person. 
* As mentioned, tourism stakeholders are reviewing the current fees and rates as part of the management initiatives. Experts will have a hand on determining the right fees. Thus, the above rates and fees could be updated once everything is in place.

meet the locals contemplating at the vastness of the lake


First gateway from Davao City is via Davao - General Santos City highway.
Davao City to General Santos City - Bus: P270
General Santos City to Koronadal City - Bus: P100
Koronadal City to Surallah - Van or Bus: P30
Surallah to Tboli - Van: P30
Tboli town to Brgy Salacafe Jump-off - Habal-habal (single motorcycle): P100 
Drivers usually ask for additional P20 for climbers with big luggage   

If going via Kule Trails, Habal-habal is P150 per head or 300 per motorcycle

Second gateway is via Davao - Tacurong City highway.
Davao City to Tacurong City - bus or van: P200
Tacurong City to Koronadal City - bus or van : P50

go fishing!
Some consider the trail "easy". Just don't underestimate the mountain.
coffee break at the dilapidated cottage along the trail

the dancing field under the billions of stars

Cellular phone signal of major local network providers are ample along the trail. I have even tried updating my social media account via 3G signal somewhere in Sitio Nabol area. Signal eventually fades as the trail progresses. It is absent at the peak to the lake campsite area. 

Getting back up and dusting off after a hard fall from the habal-habal

The birders: Sir Jovic and Sir Jeniel 

Documented Birds in the vicinity and along the trail to Lake Holon 

The mountain and the lake are home to rare and some endemic birds and species like the Philippines Tree Squirrel (Sundasciurus philippinensis). So, next time don't forget to bring your telephoto lenses.

Here's the initial list of birds documented by local birders Sir Jovic and Jeniel:

Yellow-breasted fruit dove
White-eared brown dove
Mountain Tailor Bird
Mountain Verditer Flycatcher
Black and Cinnamon Fantail
Olive-capped Flower pecker
Golden bellied whistler
Orange bellied flowerpecker
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Sulfur-bellied nuthatch
Scarlet Minivet
Citrine canary flycatcher
Brahminy Kite
Chinese Goshawk
Mindanao Tarictic Hornbil
Philippine Frogmouth
Bicolored Flower pecker
Short Tailed Starling
Coppersmith barbet
Stripe-breasted rhabdornis
Mountain White Eye
Everett's White-eye
Elegant Tit
Philippine bulbul
Red-keeled flowerpecker
Brown Tit-babler
Whiskered Tree Swift
Philippine Hanging Parrot
(Unidentified) Cuckoo
Brown Shrike
Gray-streaked Flycatcher
Check HERE for the photos of the birds captured by Sir Jeniel.

Children of Nabol

We were welcomed to take shade from the rain here in Kutan Family's humble abode in Nabol
with the Kutan Family
off fishin'
giving back through photos
Suggested Itinerary

If you're planning to take an overnight trek to the lake, here's my suggested itinerary:

Day 1
0630 – Assembly @ Koronadal City
0700 - ETD to Tboli
0800 - ETA Tboli Municipal Tourism Office for Registration.
0830 – ETD to Brgy. Salacafe (via habal-habal)
0930 - ETA Salacafe, register at the village gate, warm up
1000 - Start Trek
1045 - ETA Sitio Nabol. Plant a tree at the designated site.
1115 - Resume trekking
1200 - Lunch on trail
1300 - ETA at the Peak. Rest at the old cottage
1315 - Start descent to the lake
1345 - ETA Lake Holon
Pitch tent. Camp. Prep for Dinner
1800 - Dinner
1900 – Group Activities
2200 – Lights Off

Day 2
0530 - Wake up call. Prep Breakfast.
0700 - Breakfast. Break Camp.
0900 - Start ascent to the peak
0930 - ETA peak
1200 - ETA Salacafe. Lunch.
1300 - Salacafe to town proper
1530 – ETA Town Proper
1600 – ETD to Koronadal
1700 - ETA Koronadal

Contact Persons
Arts Culture and Tourism Development Office

Tboli Rescue Team chief, Mr. Ronilo Magsael -  - 09056454662

Local group Friends of Holon and Melibingoy (FHM) organizes Outreach Climbs to Lake Holon by sharing school kits to Salacafe's school children, growing trees with the help of the community and trekking to lake campsite . You may know more about the details of the group's activities thru their Facebook account HERE or through this blog's Facebook page HERE.


  1. Super nice blog!Thank you for posting the itirenary sir :)

  2. Hi. kakayanin ba ang Lake Holon/Mt.Parker Hike and Lake Sebu(7waterfalls) in 3D2N. ETA in GenSan 7am 1st day. ETD Gensan 4PM 3rd Day.


  3. Thank you!!!! It is really very Helping!!!

  4. i miss my college days trekking Iloilo Province..its good to hear that here in Mindanao there is one great Lake like Holon..

  5. Thank you for posting such informative details. Planning to go alone, Thank you again!

  6. Hi. Ask ko lang po what if may dalang sasakyan? Hanggang saan lang po ba puede dalhin ang sasakyan? And if saan po puede ipagbilin to start the trekking? Pls answer my concern hihi thanks :)

    1. you may bring your own ride until sa Brgy Salacafe. That's where the tourist center is. you may leave your ride there. just let the tourist center in-charge know.

  7. Hi! Pwede ba big groups, mga 15-20 pax? plano kasi namin on June 25-26, 2016. Thanks!
    We're from Davao, btw.

    1. of course maam, pwede. anything i can do for the group? please send details to thanks

  8. I'm planning to go here. Pero I'm a solo traveler, okay lang kaya yun? Pwede kaya kong magjoin sa ibang group? :)

    1. would be totally fine. on a weekend you will likely be sharing the campsite with hundreds of other campers. :)

  9. Hi, good eve. Plan namin punubta ng lake holon this aug 21,22.. Dapat ba tumawag muna kami sa tourism officer dun sa lake holon? Thanks for the reply

    1. yes Aillen. The local tourism office controls the number of hikers every day. I advise you book with them ahead.

  10. This really helps... and thank u for this cir... gusto namin pumunta ngaun 28-29... may updates po ba kau sa payments? like registration, guide and porter...? and other fees... salamat...

    1. thanks! same rates as far as i know po. contact the tourism office for advanced bookings if you want to be accommodated on those dates.

  11. Cir thank sa info na nandito... may update po ba kau sa fees ngaun? Guide, porter, registration or other fees? isa lng ba ung guide at porter o magkaiba? salamat po..

    1. sir, fees are as stated in this article. a guide is different from a porter. guides are required at least one per group depending on how many you are. porters are optional. up to you if you need their services. rates are stated above.

  12. Hi Louie... meron ka bang contact number ng tourism office so we can make our advance booking?

    1. Andito po sa blog post so as other very helpful infos on your trek. 😉

    2. Andito po sa blog post so as other very helpful infos on your trek. 😉

  13. good evening po. anu pong promotional tools ang ginagamit sa lake holon?

    1. hi, here's the contact number of the tourism office that can answer your queries: (083)-237-1014.

  14. hi! yung tent po ba ay for rent or kanya2x dala ng.tent?

  15. hi po anu po yung mga pagkain na pweding dalhin don at anu yung bawal po tnx

  16. Hi sir. open po ba ang tourism office nila kahit weekends?

  17. Awesome post!..very informative..planning to go here this holy week.. :)

  18. Thanks sir im planning to go here by this sunday buti nlng same rate pa din

  19. seriously walang signal sa campsite? oh shit

  20. See You lake Holon . Im so excited na..

  21. Awesome post.


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