Location: Barangay San Lorenzo, San Pablo City, Laguna, Philippines
Note: This is a part of my 2-day Pandin-Yambu twin-lake tour, Liliw shopping spree and food trip, attending holy mass at Liliw Church, overnight at Liliw Resort, religious visit to Nagcarlan Church and historic tour to Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery.
San Pablo City of the province of Laguna is endowed with seven lakes which according to volcanologists are maars or low-profile volcanic craters, namely: Lake Bunot, Lake Calibato or sometimes spelled as Lake Kalibato, Lake Palakpakin sometimes spelled as Lake Palacpaquin or Palacpaquen, Lake Muhikap also known as Lake Mojicap or Lake Mohicap, Lake Sampaloc which is the largest of the seven lakes and the twin lakes of Pandin and Yambo.
Lake Sampaloc is situated in the heart of San Pablo city proper, thus, it is quite accessible. It is in itself a tourist destination within the city proper. However, I did not find time to visit this lake and the other four since my target destination was really the Pandin Lake and its twin lake, Yambu.
With very minimal budget and its accessibility, one will really be enticed to push through for this destination considering that its tranquility and beauty is really incomparable and by itself unique. It is surrounded by a lush forest and its water is extremely fresh coming from a source underneath. Unlike other lakes, Pandin is equipped with a running water.
So, how does the tour start? Take a bus from Cubao with a signboard of Lucena for three hours but tell the driver to drop you at SM San Pablo. Then, you have a choice to take either another jeep or tricycle to San Pablo city proper where you have to lift in a jeepney terminal near a 7-Eleven Convenience Store and from there, you board another jeepney with a signboard of "Ilog" where it will take you to the Lake Pandin parking lot just along the highway. There are enterprising kids who will approach you as guides for a minimal fee but there is only one way leading to the lake so you will not be lost anyway.
The first part of the trail leading to the lake is shady because of trees but if you pass through the private properties with concrete walls, it will be open already and during the day it will be hot. Then, trail starts to ascend where you need to have an uphill trek. Then, as you approach the lake, you will have a downhill trek for a few meters. As easy as that. However, it is advisable that you should have a reservation earlier because you might not be given a slot for the raft to cruise with.
For reservation, you can contact Ms. Cristina "Tina" Abrego in her mobile number at +639079952983. You need to pay a reservation fee of 25% if you are booking for 15 pax or more of the total amount of tour package cost which is at P360 per head for a minimum of 6 persons since the rafts can not accommodate a bigger number of people. The inclusion of the tour is the raft cruise and the lunch while on board. For less than 15, you can place your reservation and pay on the day of your tour. By the way, the P360 rate per pax starts for a group of four; 2 pax is at P500 per head; and 3 pax is at P400 per head.
Native food is served for lunch but if you prefer other recipe or meal package choice, you can request it from Tina but of course the tour package may no longer be the same. You should maximize your time because the cruise is only good for 2 hours. You can swim while on cruise but it is strictly advised to always wear life jacket for safety.
Being at Pandin Lake is seemingly an endless opportunity to capture postcard-perfect pictures. Every angle of your sight in the lake is like an event. It gives a soothing effect when you dip your body in the water of the lake. The water is crystal clear and so clean and fresh. It is like bathing gallons of mineral water.
The tour operator which is a group of the locals residing in this place has organized a sustainable income-generating tourism activity and so they do not want to abuse the beauty of this 20.5-hectare lake. Thus, as of now, they only have 12 rafts operating for guests not to overcrowd. They wanted the guest to maximize communing with the lake savoring its majestic beauty. So, if you intend to enjoy the place, place your reservation earlier to get your slot.
If you intend to stay overnight, then you can coordinate with Tina for your accommodation. It is not owned by their association but she can place the reservation for you with cottages of P1,000 for kubo (nipa hut) and P1,500 for a good cottage with comfort room. Remember, there is no electricity provided in the cottages but be glad that there is a network signal. Just bring with you a power bank for charging.
As most of the guests are extremely enticed to swim, this thought will not even spare you. So be ready to swim, too, in this lake with an average depth of 63 meters or 206.69 feet. Don't worry, there are no crocodiles in the lake nor some suspicious monsters or scary creatures. According to experts, they had calculated that the total volume of water in storage in Pandin Lake is 6,600 cubic meters.
Part of the 2-hour package is to trek to other side of the lake where Yambu Lake can be seen. There is a guide who will bring you there but it is just a matter of less than 5 minute uphill trek from the point where our raft was docked. You can just give a tip to the guide. I gave him P50 and he was happy but I was sad that in our group, it was only me who gave him a tip.
Yambu Lake like Pandin, is oligotrophic, which means that it has abundant plant and fish life. It has a normal surface area of 28.5 hectares, comparatively bigger than Pandin which is also suitable for swimmming, camping and picnics.
If only not of the 2-hour tour limit package, I would have stayed longer. According to Tina, they only one hour extension with an additional fee of P90 per head during peak days like weekends and holidays. But it would still depend if some guests are waiting for their turn.
My guide going to Yambu Lake is Kuya Nick Catapang and he assured me to be his guide when I climb there. I might do this Christmas break for a dayhike. It will cost around P700. Are you going to join me? He told me that at the summit of Mount Mabilog, all the seven crater lakes of San Pablo Lake System will be captured. You may want to contact him also at 09772818967 or 09108557305.
After viewing the scenic Yambu Lake, we returned to Pandin Lake and consumed the remaining of 2 hours tour package. We did not finish yet our lunch. It was too much for a regular meal.
I assure you!!! I really enjoyed this trip. It was so near from Manila and I only spent around P674. Why not have it for yourself, too. Surely, these lakes will pamper you!!!! I just love it!! I wish to be back here.
Though, we still had the Liliw and Nagcarlan trip after this tour where we stayed in Liliw Resort for overnight, I am giving you an idea on the expenses if you opt to had this a day tour only.
Actual Expenses Breakdown
|1.||Round trip bus fare airconditioned bus fare from Cubao to SM San Pablo (Laguna) at P135 one-way|
|2.||Round trip tricycle fare from SM San Pablo to Jeepney Terminal for "Ilog" in 7-Eleven at P10 one-way|
|3.||Round trip jeepney fare from 7-Eleven Ilog Terminal to Pandin jump-off point at P12 one-way|
|4.||Lake Pandin tour package with lunch for a minimum of four|