Lake Holon, Tboli, South Cotabato Travel Guide

Lake Holon, Tboli, South Cotabato Travel Guide

I never imagined I would visit Lake Holon in Tboli, South Cotabato. My initial focus was on the more renowned Lake Sebu in the same province; Tboli wasn't even on my radar. However, earlier this year, an unexpected opportunity arose, prompting me to explore this hidden gem. It's probably one of the best-unexpected treasures I've ever stumbled upon.

Lake Holon, a caldera lake, is cradled in the mountainous landscape of South Cotabato, surrounded by peaks including the stratovolcano Mt. Parker, known locally as Melibengoy, towering at 1,756 meters above sea level.

Climbing Mt. Mélébingóy (formerly Mt. Parker)

My friend CJ and I had originally planned to climb Sanchez Peak, the highest point of General Santos City. However, we ended up deciding to climb Mt. Mélébingóy instead. Despite our indecisiveness, I had no regrets. 

Before reaching the breathtaking beauty of Lake Holon, you will need to trek for about 2-4 hours, depending on the trail you choose. Two trails lead to Lake Holon: Kule and Salacafe. The Salacafe Trail is the easier option, taking about 2-3 hours, depending on your pace. The Kule Trail, on the other hand, is more challenging and will likely take 4-5 hours to reach Lake Holon.

Kule Trail Orientation Area

If you ask me, I highly recommend taking the Kule Trail because it leads directly to the viewing deck. Along this trail, you'll encounter five stations before reaching Lake Holon, with the viewing deck situated at Station 4.

Climbing Mt. Mélébingóy is quite manageable, with the main challenge being the continuous steep ascents leading up to the viewing deck. Once you reach the deck at approximately 5000 feet, you'll descend for another hour until you reach Kenebeg or Station 5. From there, a boat ride will take you to the camping site at Lake Holon.

On our way out, we took the Salacafe trail, and it took us approximately two hours to reach the Salacafe jump-off point.

Getting to Lake Holon in Tboli, South Cotabato

The journey begins at Bulaong Terminal on Eusebio Bulaong Avenue in General Santos City. 

  1. Take a bus heading towards Koronadal City, South Cotabato (Marbel), which typically takes around 1 hour. 
  2. Upon arrival at Marbel Public Terminal, board a van bound for Tboli, South Cotabato, with a travel time of 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Upon boarding the van, inform the driver to drop you off at the Municipal Tourism Office in Tboli.
  4. Once there, complete the registration and pay the necessary fees. 
  5. From the Tourism Office, you can arrange for a skylab (motorbike) to take you to the jump-off point. If you opt for the Kule Trail, be aware that your bags will need to be checked at the Salacafe Trail jump-off, as alcoholic beverages and playing cards are prohibited.
  6. The journey from the Tourism Office to the Salacafe Trail jump-off takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. 
  7. From the Salacafe Trail to the Kule Trail receiving area, the travel time is approximately 30 minutes.

Tips, What to Expect, Do’s and Don’ts

  1. Be prepared for a rollercoaster-like motorbike journey to the jump-off point. Quite literally. The road from the Municipal Tourism Office to the jump-off is unpaved and, I must say, quite treacherous. We had to disembark from the motorbike three times due to hazardous road conditions. It certainly made for an adventurous ride.
  2. As mentioned above, card games and alcoholic beverages are not allowed. If you get caught bringing any of these at the checkpoint in Salacafe jump-off, it will be confiscated.
  3. You will save more if you go there as a group. When we arrived, we befriended two travelers from Maguindanao, so we were able to save a lot with the guide fee.
  4. Guides will be assigned to your group at the orientation area in Kule/Salacafe.
  5. If you need a porter, the porter fee is Php 20 per kilo.
  6. There are water sources along the way, but I would still advise bringing your own water.
  7. There are toilets in Lake Holon which is located a few meters from the campsite.
  8. The Tboli community is a Christian community. They hold devotional and praise and worship every Sunday near the bonfire area. Please respect this weekly gathering.
  9. Lake Holon holds profound significance for the Tboli community as a sacred source of food and water for their families. It is crucial to show respect by not littering. Visitors are required to carry out all their garbage when leaving the area.
  10. Tents are available for rent, but I would advise you to bring your own tents, just in case all tents are not available.
  11. Souvenir items are available once you pass by a village on Salacafe trail.
  12. You can buy a bundle of fresh tilapia there.  Cook sets are available for rent there too.
  13. You will get a certificate from the Tourism Office after your trek.
  14. You can ride a horse to and from Lake Holon if you choose Salacafe trail.

Lake Holon Expenses

  • Bus Fare from Bulaong Terminal to Marbel Terminal – Php 85
  • Van Fare from Marbel to Tboli – Php 60
  • Skylab (Motorbike) Fare – Php 450/two passengers
  • Lake Holon Entrance Fee – Php 100/person
  • Lake Holon Environmental Fee – Php 50/person
  • Guide Fee – Php120 (P600 per 10 pax; there were 5 of us)
  • Tent Fee – Php100 per tent
  • Tilapia – Php 50/bundle
  • 5 packs Native Coffee – Php 50
  • Snacks during exit to Salacafe – Php 30
  • 2 pcs Bamboo Souvenir Cups – Php 50 (25 per cup)
  • Skylab (Motorbike) Fare (Exit) Php 100 (Php 300/motorbike)
Please note that prices are subject to change without prior notice.

Contact Information

Tboli, South Cotabato Municipal Tourism Office - 0907 283 2968

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