Nestled peacefully between the mountains of Makiling and Banahaw, are 7 lakes that the city of San Pablo is proud of. Out of curiosity and the need for quite a break from our usual bubble in the city, Yua and I took on a journey to the province of Laguna.
The night’s blanket of stars was at its peak when we decided to leave Manila riding a van. With the mission to tick off all 7 lakes out of our list, we left early, even if we knew that it would only take an 2-hour and a half drive to San Pablo City. Calculate that with the absence of daylight traffic, and we had some ample time to spare. A few hours of nap, a slow and satisfying breakfast, and some leg-space for time to be lost. “Well, that should be enough time to make our day lazy and slow, yet productive”, I uttered under my drowsy breath.
With nothing but a GPS app as our guide, we slowly drifted into slumber as our driver passed by empty streets under faint-yellow lights. The next thing we knew, we were rubbing our eyes in disbelief, as we were temporarily blinded by the strong rays of the sun around us. We woke up with the GPS blurting, “You have reached your destination.”
Apparently not, as we were in the middle of nowhere. Tall shrubs, wild blades of grass and not a person in sight, we knew this is nowhere near the 7 lakes we were looking for.
It took us another hour before we went right back on track. Our morning started with a stroll down the 3km boardwalk framing the crater lake of Sampaloc. Despite being surrounded by the buzzing city life, Sampaloc Lake’s peaceful aura seems unmoved. It truly felt like a town, exquisitely tucked inside a city. The vista of the tranquil lake shedding a glow in view of Mt. Mabilog was effortless in beauty and finesse.
That’s one tick off of our list! On to the next one, just 15 minutes to the east of Sampaloc Lake, we found ourselves wondering how to access the lake that is famous for its freshly caught tilapia cooked on site. Turns out, one has to skirt around the local off-grid homes to get a view of the lake or simply opt to stay at the surrounding resorts where one can enjoy a little bit more comfort. It was refreshing to get a sight of bamboo homes framing the lake with townspeople sitting over bamboo stilts waiting for their catch of the day.
Not spending more than 30 minutes on site, we decided to move on and see the third one on our list. The next lake should be north-east drive for at least less than an hour, if the highway traffic treats us well.
Calibato Lake could be reached only if you’re willing to take on the 30 to 45-minute hike over narrow wooden bridges and some balancing act over what appears to be a dilapidated aqueduct.
It offers stunning views of Mt Banahaw’s curves casted over as reflections on the sleepy waters of the lake. There are rafts where one can stay in for a few minutes of revel in the quiet. Or simply take a rest under the shadows of the mighty Talisay trees strung out around the lake shores
That’s 3rd on our list and by then, the sun was high at noon. We rushed back to the jump-off point to visit the lake that is on the other side of the barangay.
Pandin Lake is quite well-known among the seven. Getting to the lake requires one to go on an uphill trek over skiddy steep-cemented pathways. Be keen-eyed as much as possible, for on your way to Pandin, you will see an expanse of grassland filled with muscular horses grazing. At the backdrop a view of Mt. Banahaw’s curves stand tall.
Only when you arrive at the clear-jade waters of Lake Pandin does the adventure starts. From there you will ride a floating raft that will take you across the lake where the ‘balsa’ will moor in shelter. Spend the after splattering about the lake or lull yourself to calmness while riding the makeshift swing by the tree.
After our much needed lunch, we were given the option to be back and start our journey down the hill or be taken to Yambo Lake.
Either way, our journey was almost complete with our 4th and 5th lake ticked off the list.
From Barangay Sto. Angel, we journeyed west to our 6th, then the 7th.
Within Brgy. San Buenaventura is a lake whose beauty she flaunts by the roadside. At Palakpakin Lake, visitors can’t help but love the sight of Mt. Cristobal reflected on the undisturbed glass-like waters of the lake.
Once we were done easily ticking off this lake off our list, we proceeded to our last and final lake.
Mohicap Lake is somewhat reminiscent of those childhood campsites, old and rustic, but always invigorating. The way down to the lake will require you to conquer 105 concrete steps. A bit tiring when going down, but wait until you need to go up. Uh-huh, that’s some exercise for your cardio.
Once you’re down to your final 10 steps, you’ll be giddy like a 7-year-old child, as the whole scene exudes serene and thrilling sensation, all at the same time. Before you are water rafts floating on glass-like calm waters. Looking at the far-end west of the lake, you will see children, in fits of laughter, diving in and out of the waters.
At the far-east view of the lake is a grand visual enchantment of Mt. Susong Dalaga and Mt. Banahaw. All the while at the lake shore are lush tropical vegetation sending forth crisp mountain air.
The lake felt like a refuge engulfing my deepest cares in the world. It was one of those moments I felt child-like: wide-eyed, full of life, and fearless.
This is where our journey ends, by a raft floating aimlessly over 39.5m deep waters. Raw and off-grid, we breathe in the contentment of the completion of our day’s exploration. More than finding satisfaction in ticking off everything from our list, we found ourselves getting caught up, dancing in the energy that the nature has for us. Whether it be a 30 min conversation at its shore, or a minute of hasty excitement taking photos of it, we were under the calming spells of the grand “7 Lakes of Laguna.”
How to get there?
- Ride a bus going to San Pablo Laguna
- You may hire a tricycle to bring you to all 7 lakes or just choose the ones you prefer
- Only Yambo, Pandin and Mohicap lakes are accessible to tourists
Other places to visit when in Laguna:
- Head over Majayjay for Bukal and Majayjay Falls
- In Pangil Laguna ,you may hike another mountain to see Buntot Palos Falls
Have you been to the 7 Lakes of Laguna? Do you have other awesome places you think we should visit? Pitch in an idea in the comment box below and use #ChoosePhilippines on your next adventure posts!
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