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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Dumaguete: Balinsasayao-Danao Twin Lakes and Casaroro Waterfalls D.I.Y Day Tour



I can't believe it took me 8 years of travelling until I got to get my ass in Dumaguete. I didn't know what I have been really missing all this time until late last year. It was chuseok holiday in Korea so I packed my bags and traveled solo to Cebu-Dumaguete-Siquijor and Apo Island.

Dumaguete is a pretty small city with Silliman University at its core. All you need is a day to go around and get to know the place. That is not to say though that there is nothing to do here. There are still many things to discover. One can enjoy strolling by baywalk and get a sense of how laidback the city can get.

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There are also a few pubs along Silliman Avenue that you can try if you want to chill. And a few specialty restaurants for your palate too. The attractions around Dumaguete are the ones that make Dumaguete such a to-go-place. There are lakes,waterfalls,hot springs, sand bars. There is also Siquijor just an hour away by slow ferry and Apo Island which is haven for turtle spotting. I will write about my experiences one by one but first, let me talk about my day trip to Balinsasayao-Danao Twin Lakes and Casaroro Waterfalls.



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If you have whole day to spare, that is more than enough to visit the two attractions. I actually started late at around 11:00 am but I still made it. I started with Twin Lakes first as it is a bit farther. Going here is easy though. I thought about hiring a motorbike and find it myself but doing so is quite challenging. Of the three (3) number I found online and contacted, only one replied with no bikes available.

HOW TO GET TO TWIN LAKES

1. Ride the jeepney/ multicab bound Amlam near Dumaguete Public Market.
Just tell the driver you are going to Twin Lakes and they know where to drop you off.
This is around  more than 1 hour from Dumaguete City and you will pass through Sibulan where the ferry port is.
2. From the junction there are habal-habal drivers waiting by the waiting shed.
Standard rates apply. There is actually a signage there by the waiting shed so no need to haggle.
Rates are for per pax basis and each habal habal is good for a minimum of 2 pax.
Price is 200 php per pax, two-way.

I was alone so I refused to pay for the whole ride. The driver next in line refused to take me in but somebody agreed to drive me to the lake. I asked him along the way why he agreed to take when in fact I was only to pay 200 pesos and he said it is because they were expecting only a few guests that day and he was way way down the line among many drivers so it is a good way to cut the line. I felt grateful to him so in the end I gave him 300 pesos and he was very happy.

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About Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park

Lake Balinsasayao, Lake Danao, and Lake Kabalin-an are part of Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park, a protected area totaling 8,016 hectares (19,810 acres) created on 21 November 2000 by virtue of Proclamation No. 414 signed by former President Joseph Estrada.  Lake Balinsasayao is one of three  crater lakes rising 1,000 feet (300 m) above sea level. Source


Entrance Fee
There is a minimal fee ( I can't remember if 20 or 50 pesos) at the entrance upon registration. That is per oax and you also have to pay for taking a vehicle in. In our case, I paid for the motorbike entrance fee since the quoted amount of 400 pesos two-way ride does not include entrances.

The natural park is under the management and protection of DENR and I think they are doing a pretty good job. It's well maintained so you will enjoy nature at its best.
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The view you will enjoy -- both photogenic and equally lovely in real life. Activities include riding a paddoe boat, swimming, picnic, day camping or simply chillin in some of the cottages along the lakeside. In my case I was here for only a few minutes but I definitely enjoyed the hiking from the 1st lake to the 2nd. The trail is well developed. Be careful with your steps though because it is punctuation by rocks.



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Most people are satisfied by simply staying at the 1st lake which is not doubt more beautiful but I suggest you hike to the 2nd one. In between the two lakes is a covered view deck where you can see both lakes separated by a thin strip of land. The 2nd lake I find a bit mysterious. I was alone there so I thought of skinny dipping because even if the water is clear I saw that it is a bit mossy and has lots of tree and plant debris which is by the way a key feature of both lakes, big logs toppled and has become a part of the natural environment.

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Casaroro Falls

Back at Dumaguete public market, I asked for the jeepney terminal bound for Valencia where Casaroro falls is. From Valencia town, you can hire a tricycle or habal habal worth 200 pesos to take you to the falls. The set off point that is because from there you register and you will find your way hiking down a stairs 300 or so steps. That is a bit easy going down but going up would be a pain in the ass.

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I didn't get a guide. Well, there was nobody there to start with  except for the one in charge of registration. He said I just have to go down and turn right. Easy, just follow the river upstream. It was kinda tricky to navigate the big rocks though that are mostly slippery. I was lucky a couple with a guide caught up with me so I just followed them. It was comforting because even if it was on

because even if it was only 3:00 pm.when I hit the river it already felt like 5:00 pm the reason being the tall trees on both sides. Vegetation here is really lush. So started feeling a bit scared not knowing how long it will take to the waterfalls and back.

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That said, I think I should have enjoyed it more if I came earlier so as I could have focused on the beauty of the waterfalls, it's graceful cascade yet powerful drop. I wouldn't say the most beautiful waterfalls I have seen but it surely deserves a name of its own. Casaroro waterfalls is worth the visit. It would have been nice to take a dip but the water was really cold. The other pair decided to leave after a few minutes of taking photos. So I did. I was afraid to be left here alone.

I got back to Valencia town by 5:00 pm to catch the last jeepney bound to Dumaguete and went back to my hotel feeling fulfilled. It was a nice day trip around Dumaguete City.
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