The Twin Lakes in Sibulan, Negros Oriental

VOLCANIC IN ORIGIN

It may surprise you to learn that the lakes are actually the water-filled craters of an extinct volcano. The island of Negros is volcanic in origin. The northern part is home to an active volcano called “Kanlaon.” The southern half is home to an extinct volcanic complex called “Cuernos de Negros.”

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Lakes Balinsasayao & Danao (the Twin Lakes) are near the southern tip of Negros Island

Cuernos de Negros (also known as Magaso) is a large stratovolcano complex that anchors the southeastern tip of Negros Island. The eastern side of the complex consists of two stratovolcanoes and a lava dome; two crater lakes up to 1.5 km in diameter are present. The lower western part of the complex contains four volcanic centers. The small summit crater of Magaso, the highest peak of the complex, rises above the city of Dumaguete and contains fumaroles. Two Sulfuric springs are found on the east-southeastern flank of Magaso, and hot springs occur on the northeastern flank. The youngest radiocarbon date obtained was 14,000 yrs BP from a dacitic breccia, and a younger andesitic unit is present. An increase in fumarolic activity took place after a major tectonic earthquake in 1902. The Palinpinon geothermal field is located south of the Okoy River on the north side of the volcano. — source: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Global Volcanism Program

I visited it with a friend during a particularly rainy day — in the waning days of a typhoon, in fact.

GETTING THERE

Terminal for Multicabs bound for San Jose

Terminal for Multicabs bound for San Jose.

We took a multicab (fare: 15 pesos) in Dumaguete City that was bound for San Jose — and not Sibulan — to get to the “Crossing.” The Twin Lakes are located within the municipality of Sibulan but you want to take a multicab bound for San Jose because multicabs bound for Sibulan do not pass the Crossing. Multicabs bound for San Jose, on the other hand, do pass the Crossing.

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Multicab marking indicating the vehicle’s end-points or terminals. A multicab with this marking is what you want to take to get to Twin Lakes. Tell the driver you want to go down at the “Crossing.”

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The Crossing in relation to Dumaguete City

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The “Crossing”

retirednoway, "Distance from the Crossing to Twin Lakes = 13.5 kilometers (8.4 miles)."

Distance from the Crossing to Twin Lakes = 13.5 kilometers (8.4 miles).

At the Crossing, we hired one of the habal-habals (motorcycle drivers) to take us to Twin Lakes. His fee: 400 pesos per person roundtrip, and that included his time waiting for us.

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These were the habal-habal drivers at the Crossing that afternoon. We hired the clown wearing the white T-shirt for 400 pesos round-trip per person.

THE VISITORS CENTER

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Balinsasayao Visitors Center Sign

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Rates

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Declarations at the Visitors Center

THE LAKES

Three lakes are actually in the area — the first one (Lake Kabalin-an) is small and lies beside the Visitor’s Center. The other two (Lakes Balinsasayao and Danao) are 100+ meters higher up the mountain.

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Lake Kabalin-An is the smallest lake and lies beside the Visitors Center.

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Lake Kabalin-an, as seen from the Visitor’s Center.

The lakes are craters of an extinct volcano that have been filled in by eons of rainfall.

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Relief Map showing the three lakes. The finger is pointing at Lake Kabalin-an. The other two lakes (Balinsasayao and Danao) are higher up.

The habitat up there (several hundred meters above sea level) was invigorating — it was cool, the wind was brisk, and the air was incredibly purifying. (It would be a treat to do yoga there!) Because it was a rainy day, we had to be extra careful since everything — the stone steps, the path, the boat — was slippery.

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Slippery Steps!

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The wharf at Lake Balinsasayao

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Lake Balinsasayao, as seen from the Viewing Deck.

Both lakes are deep. According to one boat woman, a team of Filipino scuba divers explored the depths and, using a measuring rope, found a maximum depth of 172 meters (560+ feet) in Lake Balinsasayao while suspecting deeper points elsewhere. Carp and tilapia were introduced decades ago and, today, these are the two dominant fishes. (This was an ecological mistake as these invasive species wiped out whatever species originally inhabited these waters).

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Boat women rowing us across Lake Balinsasayao and towards Lake Danao. The wharf is in the background.

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It is possible to walk to Lake Danao from the Viewing Deck.

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The Viewing Deck is visible at 2 o’clock (beneath the single skinny tree).

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Distance & Scale — This was taken from the Viewing Deck and shows how small a similar boat appears on the lake.

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The ridge that separates the two lakes.

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In addition to rainfall, the lakes are fed by one source on the surface — a waterfall. Seeing the waterfall will add an hour to your visit, according to the locals.

retirednoway, "Edible and otherwise useful vegetation were in abundance. Here, our habal-habal driver stands beside an Abaca tree. Fibers of the abaca make excellent water-resistant cordage. The abaca tree resembles the banana tree except that the abaca's trunk is dark, as shown above."

Edible and otherwise useful vegetation were in abundance. Here, our habal-habal driver stands beside an Abaca tree. Fibers of the abaca make excellent water-resistant cordage. The abaca tree resembles the banana tree except that the abaca’s trunk is dark, as shown above.

retirednoway, "A "wild" banana tree. The stalk of edible bananas had already been ravaged by animals and birds."

A “wild” Banana tree. The stalk of edible bananas had already been ravaged by animals and birds. The thing dangling at the end of the stalk appears to be a second “heart” of the Banana tree. (That has to be an optical illusion since, as far as I know, there is only one heart per stalk!) Anyway, the heart — which is the mass of undeveloped blossoms that later develop into bananas — is edible and is a common ingredient in Filipino cooking.

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That’s me resting on a huge and partially-submerged log in Lake Danao.

THE FERNERY

Visit the “Fernery” located beside the restaurant. At the restaurant, try the “Pako” salad (40 pesos) but tell the cook to go easy on the vinegar and sugar and instead to add more Pako to the salad.

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The Fernery grows ferns in 1+ hectares around the Viewing Deck & Restaurant.

The funding force behind the Fernery is the Foundation for the Philippine Environment, an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) founded to help mitigate the destruction of the country’s natural resources — and in this case, to preserve the knowledge and specimens of medicinal and edible ferns.

There were ferns everywhere. Apparently, locals eat a lot of it — a good thing!

retirednoway, "This sub-species of the popular "pako" fern towered over us. Notice that curled-up growth? That's called a "fiddlehead" and it's an Immature frond (or leaf). Its coiled tip is shaped like the head of a fiddle, hence its name. Isn't science wonderful?  :-)"

This sub-species of the popular “pako” fern towered over us. Notice that curled-up growth? That’s called a “fiddlehead” and it’s an Immature frond (or leaf). Its coiled tip is shaped like the head of a fiddle, hence its name. Isn’t science wonderful? :-)

RETURNING TO DUMAGUETE

The habal-habal returned us to the Crossing. From there, after a 5-minute wait, we flagged down and rode a Ceres Transport bus back to Dumaguete (fare: 20 pesos). This was a better proposition than the multicab since the ride was more comfortable and the trip went faster. Rain notwithstanding, it was an excellent visit and is highly recommended!