When hikers say that the best view always comes after the hardest climb, they really mean it. Literally and figuratively. Hiking is no easy feat – much more if prompted by extreme weather conditions, fatigue, altitude sickness, hunger, and unstable emotions. Yet, hikers continue to push to their limits, to see how far they can go, to experience a deeper sense of connection with themselves, and to witness the beauty that can only be seen from the summit. While this passion is mostly rewarded intrinsically, there are mountains that prove to be worth all the pain.
The Philippines is blessed with numerous mountains often classified by trail difficulties and height. However, instead of comparing one mountain to another, let’s take some time to appreciate these mountains because of their natural beauty – and even more emphasized their enchanting crater lakes.
Philippine’s Most Beautiful Crater Lakes
Crater lakes are bodies of water that are formed in a volcanic crater often made up of acidic content while others are of fresh water coming from precipitation, groundwater, or melted ice. In no particular order, here are the most beautiful crater lakes in the Philippines.
Mt. Melibengoy (Lake Holon)
Standing with an elevation of 1,784 masl, Mt. Melibengoy (or Mt. Parker) in T’boli, South Cotabato is one of the highest and longest mountain ranges in the province. Its crater lake, Lake Holon, is considered one of the country’s cleanest lakes. This panoramic crater lake is considered one of the sacred places of the T’boli tribe. Lake Holon also hosts one of the rarest butterfly species called Parantica dannatti reyesi.
A beautiful disaster – that’s what Mt. Pinatubo is. Marked as one of the most notorious volcanoes since its eruption on June 15, 1991, Mt. Pinatubo’s crater lake has now become one of the favorite destinations among hikers. Lake Pinatubo is located in Botolan, Zambales, bordered by the provinces of Pampanga and Tarlac.
Mt. Talinis is a beginner-friendly mountain located in Negros Oriental with an astounding view of its crater lake, Lake Nailig, at the summit. It is accessible via Apolong and Bediao Trail (Dauin and Valencia City). The trails to Mt. Talinis feature the bounty of Negros’ natural resources like Casaroro Falls, Twin Falls, Sulfuric River, Lake Nailig, and Yagumyum Lake. Mt Talinis stands at 1903 masl, with its distinct horn-like peaks known as “Cuernos de Negros”.
Occupying the caldera of the dormant volcano, Mt. Janagdan, is a crater lake that is one of the highlights of the trails upon going to Alto Peak – Eastern Visayas’ highest peak. Its terrain stands at an elevation of 686 meters above sea level. It might take a great amount of effort to reach Lake Janagdan, but the beauty set before every hiker upon reaching its summit is truly worth the pain.
Located in the “Island Born of Fire”, Camiguin, Mt. Hibok-hibok is one of the most active stratovolcano in the Philippines and part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Mt. Hibok-hibok stands at an elevation 1,332 meters above sea level. Despite its record history of erupting five times, Mt. Hibok-hibok is a popular hiking destination in Camiguin together with Mt. Timpoong.
The grandfather of all Philippine mountains, Mt. Apo, also hosts a 500-meter-wide crater, which stands 2,956 meters above sea level. Its borders lie in between Davao City, Davao del Sur and Cotabato province. The summit of Mt. Apo provides a bewitching sight of Davao City, Digos City, and Kidapawan City. The iconic mountain was declared a national park and a protected area under Proclamation No. 59 by President Manuel Quezon.
Considered the second most active volcano in the Philippines, Mt. Taal is a complex volcano located in the middle of Taal Lake in the province of Batangas. Standing 311 meters above sea level, it is considered one of the lowest volcanoes in the world. The crater lake of Mt. Taal is often labeled as an island within a lake within a lake that is also an island.
Considered the highest peak in Central Visayas, Mt. Kanlaon (also spelled as Canlaon or Kanla-on) has become a dream mountain for many mountain climbers and hikers around the country. Being one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines, it takes great courage and risk to summit Mt. Kanlaon. Hikes to Kanlaon usually utilize the Wasay-Guintubdan trails (longer) and Mapot-Mananawin Trail. The thick vegetation and rich water sources of the mountain provide a truly memorable experience for all of those who are willing to hike Mt. Kanlaon.