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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrLake Balanan is a freshwater lake surrounded by lush tropical rainforest with the mountain ranges of Balanan in the East, and Nasig-id in the West. This placid lake is located in Sitio Balanan, Barangay Sandulot in the municipality of Siaton, Negros Oriental , about 55 kilometers south of Dumaguete City. Lodged deep in the mountains, the lake is primarily fed by the Lamarao Creek, Balanan Creek, and Nasig-id Creek, and flows out to Balanan River.
HistoryLake Balanan was formed in 1925 when an earthquake with a 6.8 magnitude on the Richter scale caused massive landslides in both mountain ranges. The landslide created a natural dam right across the southern end of the Balanan River and the water rose to become a figure 8-shaped lake.
People then started living along its banks. The local government developed the area as a tourist attraction in the early 1990s which generated jobs for these villagers. In 2007, the Balanan Lake Development Authority was created to oversee the development and management of the lake and watershed area.
Visiting the LakeThe magnificent views of the mountains, forest, and lake is worth the long drive to Lake Balanan. The drive is a 10-kilometer uphill route that is exciting as well as scary for some because certain parts of the journey passes by the edge of the cliff which are not protected by railings. However, you will see beautiful, natural scenery along the way that will keep you occupied.
The whole lake covers a total surface area of 24 hectares. The size of the lake makes it a great playground for activities like boating and kayaking. Swimming is prohibited in the lake itself but if you insist, the staff will let you sign a waiver stating that you take full responsibility for swimming despite the warnings.
With an elevation of 285 meters above sea level, its cool mountain air and the serene ambiance where only the sounds of nature dominate makes this an ideal retreat to unwind and rejuvenate. The lush rainforest is home to different plant species including more than 100 old Giant Balete trees. A variety of waterfowl have been sighted in the lush tropical rainforest that surrounds the lake including Egrets, Ducks, Herons, Gallinules, and Rails. There are colonies of bats and other wildlife that must be preserved and there is a proposal to protect the area as a Game Refuge and Wildlife Sanctuary.
Mountain ResortIn recent years, Lake Balanan was developed into a mountain resort that offers different accommodations and a variety of outdoor activities. Some of the amenities in the resort include the Balanan Hillside Pools, a set of four natural swimming pools carved out from the hills. Just imagine the excitement of sitting on the pool’s edge that is situated at the edge of a cliff overlooking lush vegetation. Other amenities include a gourmet restaurant, a treehouse, rooms, and cottages that are available for overnight stays.
While it is extremely relaxing to just sit down, relax, and stare at the lake’s placid waters, the more adventurous guests can opt to go to the zip-line, kayaking, fishing, trekking, and hiking on concrete pathways that wind around the lake. Taking a dip in Balanan Waterfalls is refreshing and invigorating at the same time. During the weekends, the place host many families who come here to have picnics in the cottages and swim in the pools.
Entrance to the lake and resort is ₱50 ($1.10) for adults and ₱30 ($0.66) for kids 12 years old and below. Entrance is free on Tuesday and for those staying overnight in the resort's cottages. These are the rates for the use of the different facilities and amenities:
- 3 Swimming Pools – Free of charge
- Kayak – ₱150 ($3.30) per hour for 2 persons
- Triak – ₱200 ($4.40) per hour for 3 persons
- Pedal Boat – ₱100 ($2.20) per hour
- Banca (Small Boat) Tour – ₱50 ($1.10) per hour for 2 persons; ₱100 ($2.20) per hour for big groups
- Zip Line – ₱150 ($3.30) for sitting position and ₱200 ($4.40) for superman position
- Floating Cottage – ₱100 ($2.20) per day
- Picnic Table – ₱30 ($0.66) per day
- Camping fee – ₱150 ($3.30)
Those planning to stay overnight can stay at the resort hotel and cottages:
- Small Room – ₱1,500 ($33) per day for 3 persons; ₱200 ($4.40) per extra person
- Large Room – ₱4,000 ($88) per day for 4 persons; ₱200 ($4.40) per extra person
- Staff House – ₱2,000 ($44) per day for 10 persons; ₱100 ($2.20) per extra person up to 5
- Tree House – ₱2,000 ($44) per day for 6 persons
How to Get There
Public TransportationTake a Ceres bus for Siaton or Bayawan City at the Ceres bus terminal located in Calindagan, Dumaguete City near Robinson’s Place Dumaguete. The municipality of Siaton is 55 kilometers or 1.5 hours away from Dumaguete, and the bus fare is ₱60 ($1.32). But get off at the highway junction at the end of Siaton Bridge or at Kilometer 51 where there are motorcycles and habal-habals for hire, or get off right at the Siaton Church where the habal-habal terminal for Balanan is situated. They charge ₱50 ($1.10) to ₱100 ($2.20) for the 30-minute ride to the lake, depending on your negotiating skills.
Private Vehicle for HireThe most comfortable and convenient, albeit more expensive way to go to Lake Balanan is to hire a private van or pick-up to take you all the way from Dumaguete City to the lake. You just need to inform them that you want to go to Lake Balanan and let them take care of the rest. Rates start at ₱3,000 ($66) for 1 day depending on the vehicle to be used.
SafetyFor your own safety, it is best to obey the rules which state that there is no swimming at the lake. There have been incidents of drowning in the past.
Travel TipsIf you are taking a habal-habal to the resort, negotiate with the driver for a round-trip fare. Ask for his mobile number so you can call or text him when you are ready to be picked up. There is signal at the resort although it is weak at only 1 to 2 bar reception.
Try to schedule your trip during summer or on non-rainy days so you can go kayaking or boating to the Balanan Waterfalls. However, if you seek peace and quiet, the weekdays and rainy days are the perfect time to go.
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Author: janblim. Last updated: Nov 14, 2014