It's been a few days since my last post on our trip to Negros Island, today I bring you the third and final part of this amazing journey on this beautiful island. To recap we traveled from Moalboal on Cebu island and made our way to Negros on motorcycles via a ferry and once across the water and after a long hot dusty ride found ourselves in a secluded piece of paradise. I will leave links at the bottom of this post for those that missed them.
Our home for the week was Kookoo's nest eco-lodge, tucked away on a private beach this place was far away from the madding crowd, the kind of destination where you get that away from it all feel. After a few days of doing very little other than chilling on the beach and the occasional dive we decided to get out and about and explore the local area a bit more.
Our target for the day.
We had learned there was a mountain lake in the area, that sounded ideal for a day trip so we set out early on our trusty steeds to give us plenty of time to take that in and see some of the sights along the way. From the lodge we had 11km on unmade roads before we found ourselves on the main highway, taking a route west we passed through a number of little villages, it was clear that not so many foreigners make their way to these parts because everywhere we passed through the locals would come out waving at us and when we stopped to get a drink they were excited by the fact that this husband and wife team were traveling around the island on motorbikes.
Turning off the main highway and heading in land it was back to dirt track roads that were challenging riding it was uphill all the way, it seemed wrong should we be going so high into the mountains to find a lake? Stopping to ask a local it seemed we were heading in the right direction so we pressed on ending up on a elevated ridge with stunning views looking back to where we had traveled from.
High up in the hills.
But still going up.
A couple more kilometres of riding up hill and then for the first time in ages we found the road dropping quite steeply, a few hundred meters later we had arrived at our destination. Instantly the scenery changed from a open farmed landscape to dense forest giant trees and then our first sighting of the lake. Parking our bikes up we paid the 50 peso entrance fee and went for a closer look, the place was stunning.
Worth all the effort.
And with all that water about it would be wrong not to hire a boat and go for a paddle around.
So the question is how did a lake form high up in the mountains? Time for a quick lesson in history, on the 5th of May , 1925, the area was hit by an earthquake that registered 6.8 on the Richter Scale. The quake triggered a landslide and massive boulders created a natural dam. The result of this blocked the flow of the Balanan River, turning it into a figure of 8 lake, in the photo above you see only the first section of the lake which opens up again once through the narrowing you can see behind the floating hut. The river still runs from the mountains in the distance and flows through finally ending in the sea many kilometres away.
This looks like a great place to go for a swim but we were warned that we should not enter the water, "it's dangerous" one of the staff told us, disappointed I asked more questions as to why it was considered risky to go for a swim and found that the lake is home to many Electric eels, ah OK i'm not that needy for a swim that I want to chance my luck with one of these beasts.
Apparently once you could swim there but now they have built pools which are fed by filtered water from the over flow, much safer but not quite the same natural feel.
Very inviting on a hot day.
So Koz jumped in for a cool off.
After a nice cooling splash around we took a walk around the grounds to look at the scenery, there are lots of big rocks everywhere, evidence of the landslide some so big that many of the foot paths have had to be built around them, in some places they are starting to become engulfed by the enormous Balete trees.
With all that fresh water around it's no surprise that the whole area has lush green vegetation and one of the most striking things are the towering trees, for me one of the highlights. The Balete trees are enormous, they are a member of the Ficus family and known as strangler figs, they start their lives as a parasite attaching to a host tree, in time they drop hanging roots that eventually make it to the ground once this happens the tree gains strength and engulfs the host and kills it off. Many of the samples around the lake are hundreds of years old, there are others else where in the Philippines that are said to be 1300 years old.
Koz dwarfed by a monster.
Throughout the Philippines Balete trees have some interesting folklore surrounding them, it is believed they are the home of evil spirits and ghosts, they have been connected with sorcery in the past and are considered unlucky to have within a property.
500 year old tree with tiny us in middle.
It was time to think about getting back on the road, we still had a long ride back to the lodge and didn't want to be on the road in the dark, we could easily have spent more time here and will in the future as we know a return trip to Negros is on the cards because in a week we feel we have only scratched the surface. The ride back was really nice the air was fresh and the heat of the day had subsided making for a comfortable journey, obviously stopping on the odd occasion to take in the views.
Stunning vista with distant volcano.
Soon we hit a concrete road this made for speedier progress and before long we were charging up the highway waving at the locals as we passed. Just as light was starting to fail Kookoo's nest came into view, perfect timing. A quick shower to freshen up then a ice cold beer while watching the sunset.
Sunset from our balcony.
We still had 2 days left of our stay here at Kookoo's nest which were taken up by lounging on the beach and a little more diving, after this we planned to return to Moalboal on Cebu as a halfway house before the next big road trip to southern Leyte, I will be sure to write about this in the near future.
I hope you have all enjoyed coming along on this trip and look forward to sharing many more, until then stay safe out there folks!
[//]:# (!pinmapple 9.136858 lat 122.999625 long Lake Balanan Negros d3scr)