“I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling.”
—Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
Why do people love nature? Why do we love to commune with mother earth?
People would tend to answer that question with “I like nature because it’s beautiful and it provides tranquility” something like that. Yes, that’s a pretty good answer. But when you turn that question over and over, you might not think that it’s an easy question to answer. I have thought of that question several times and it made me question myself, why am I hooked with nature? What are the reasons? I reflected on each of my answers and found out that I barely have answers that I can consider satisfactory – which made me contemplate again for deeper reasons.
As far as I can remember, I always love nature. I spent most of my time outdoors since I was a child. For outdoor lovers like me, the euphoria of spending time outside is inexplicable. If you spent more time with nature, you’ve probably noticed that you feel happier out there than staying within the four corners of your room. There are so many reasons why we love nature.
First of all, is because we are part of it and we evolved in it, it’s already in our DNA that we need nature for our psychological being. It reminds us of death so that we can appreciate life.
Secondly, nature has the ability to bring people closer to their sense of spirituality, openness and reality. It reminds us that we can’t stop it from raining, delay the setting of the sun or set the temperature to some comfortable degrees. It awakens us from a dream and realize how little control we really have in this world and that hardships and lack of control are part of life and accepting these reality makes it not only bearable but leads to the possibility of celebrating the bliss of being alive.
Lastly, nature teaches us that there is nothing wrong with ourselves. When we are communing with nature, we don’t look at the mirrors, we are focused on the setting around us. When we’re alone in nature, or with a loving friend or group of good company, we can be totally free and be our real selves. We get the sweet relief from all forms of oppression and stigma from the so called society like sexism, racism and even trans-phobia and or homophobia and other things that would belittle one another.
In general, people love nature because of the euphoric effect that they could get from spending time with it, the surprises of the natural world and how nature enthralls with amazement.
The Twin Crater Lake Balinsasayao & Danao Natural Park of Negros Oriental, can be one of the best intimate hideaway for people that seek utmost outdoor delight. This natural wonder can be found few kilometers away from Dumaguete City. It is cloaked with a montane rain forest of about 830 meters above sea level. This park is one of the unperturbed tourist attraction in the highlands of Sibulan. Surprisingly, being one of the highly suggested tourist attraction in the fast progressing Dumaguete City, the lakes are still in its pristine form. The turquoise waters are still in its natural state; the surrounding rain-forest are elegantly standing guarding the lakes. The fresh air that smells like a morning dew and the cool breeze will keep you cool throughout the day.
It is amazing that the park has just minimal human influence. You can only see few small native cottages and paddle boats docked on the sides. These lakes are situated in a hollow between four mountains that belong to Talinis Range, Mount Mahungot,Mount Kalbasan , Mount Balinsasayao and Mount Guidabon. Lake Balinsasayao lies to the northwest of the ridge and Lake Danao to the southeast.
Getting to Lake Balinsasayao & Danao
By Public Transport
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. From there hire a motorcycle taxi (habal-habal) going to the Twin Lake natural park. Be cautious on the overpricing of fares. Prepare your best haggling skills but don’t be rude. Estimated fare is 400 pesos for 2 pax (roundtrip).
From Dumaguete or from your starting point, drive to the juncture in La-laan in San Jose and follow through the road up to the highlands of Sibulan.
The jaunt to the Twin Lake Balinsasayao & Danao
From San Jose juncture, there is a concrete road that will lead you to the lakes. The road is concrete paved but some parts are steep and have blind curves so be careful. There is only one road leading to the lakes that would take up to one hour drive. You will pass by a few villages and Azalea Restaurant before you reach the registration office where you will have to pay entrance and parking fees. From there the lakes are just a few minutes away.
The Twin Lakes
The crater Lake Balinsasayao is the first of the two lakes you will see upon reaching the end of the road from the entrance of the park. There are two entry points going down to lake Balinsasayao, one is by following the concrete paved road or by taking the slightly longer trail going down. You can see the first lake also from the restaurant balcony near the entrance.
Lake Balinsasayao has a surface area of about 76 hectares and is about twice as large as the Danao lake. The lake side is generally steep and form part of the crater walls that plunge to depths of up to approximately 90 meters. The lake is inhabited by at least three species of introduced freshwater fish. There are also wild animals in the area and the surrounding vegetation is said to be dominated by around 180 forest trees species including the endemic Red Lauan and Almaciga.
You can reach Lake Danao, the second lake by trekking on a rugged terrain trail or by renting a boat. The boat will take you to the other side of the road just below the access trail going to the view deck located in the ridge between two lakes. The boat is on per hour charging so might as well take the trail if you plan to stay longer at Lake Danao hideaway. The 600-meter paddle boat ride will just take few minutes.
However, if you want to have a little adventure and have enough time, choose the trail to reach Lake Danao. The trail is around one kilometers from lake Balinsasayao to Lake Danao and might take up to an hour trek under the stoned path, rugged terrain trail in the midst of the rainforest.
During our visit, there were just few tourists maybe because it was raining hard the previous night. The place was so quiet yet relaxing rather than creepy despite the thick vegetation. The trail going to Lake Danao is a stairway made of limestone rocks and slightly covered with moss and can be very slippery on rainy days.
Lake Danao, though smaller than the Lake Balinsasayao, is equally exquisite! The basin of torquiose waters surrounded by the thick lush green vegetation is just breathtaking. There are no cottages in the second lake, it will just be you and the lake. After having a doze of nature you can go up and have a quick rest at the view deck while indulging yourself for an overlooking view of the two lakes before home.
On the main entrance, there is a local restaurant with the balcony as a viewing deck for lake Balinsasayao which we chose to check on our way out of the park. Along its parking spaces are small souvenir shops too. And oh! we spotted an eagle on the tree branch where our car was parked.
Indeed, these lakes can be a safe haven for outdoor lovers and to those who just wanted to have a short break from the chaotic city life. The place is so inviting and conducive for picnics, group adventure and the likes. I personally recommend to visit this place when you’re visiting Dumaguete city, the city of gentle people. Despite its distance from the city, this Islands’ intimate hideaway is worth a try!
Other Activities to do in Lake Balinsasayao & Danao:
Trekking nature trail to viewing Deck of lake Danao
The Twin Lake Balinsasayao & Danao Rates:
- Filipino Nationals Php 50/pax
Negros oriental/Occidental (N.I.R) – Php 20 / pax
- Senior Citizen (Less 20%) – Php 16/ pax
- Student (Less 20%) – Php 16/ pax
Note: NO I.D Card, No Discount
- Other Provinces Php 50/pax
- Senior Citizen (Less 20%) – Php 40/ pax
- Student (Less 20%) – Php 40/ pax
Note: NO I.D Card, No Discount
- Non-Filipino Nationals Php 100/pax
- Senior Citizen (Less 20%) – Php 80/ pax
- Student (Less 20%) – Php 80/ pax
Note: NO I.D Card, No Discount
Children below 7 years old is free of Charge.
Van/PUJ : Entrance Php 30, Parking Fee Php10
Bus/Truck : Entrance Php 50, Parking Fee Php10
Other 4W Vehicle: Entrance Php 20, Parking Fee Php10
Motorcycle: Entrance Php 10, Parking Fee Php2
Bicycle: Entrance Php 4, Parking Fee Php2
Camping Fee: (Foreign and Local) Php 50
Other Fees / Rentals inside the protected area
Kiosk Php 100
Tent Php 300 / 2 persons, 400/4 persons
Boat Php 250/hour (max 7 persons)
Kayak Php 150 / hour
I would like to thank the Office of NEGROS ORIENTAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY (NOCCI) for sponsoring this trip and to Province of Negros Oriental Tourism Office for the assistance. For more updates visit their Facebook page at Buglasan Festival.