South Cotabato’s Lake Holon is opened to adventure seekers after one-year closure

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (PNA) – South Cotabato’s “crown jewel”, the famed crater-lake Holon in Tboli town, formally reopened to tourists and the public on Monday, January 4, after being closed for a year to make way for its rehabilitation and the restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The famed crater-lake Holon in Tboli town, South Cotabato (Photo courtesy of the municipal government / MANILA BULLETIN)
The famed crater-lake Holon in Tboli town, South Cotabato (Photo courtesy of the municipal government / MANILA BULLETIN)

Rodel Hilado, senior tourism operations officer of Tboli, said a total of 75 climbers and adventure seekers from parts of the province joined the return trek amid the observance of strict health protocols.

He said the local government lowered the number of visitors at the site to 75 per day based on the allowed 50 percent of its projected capacity.

“As of now, we can only accommodate tourists coming from South Cotabato,” Hilado said in an advisory.

He said interested climbers must book in advance through the municipal tourism office to ensure their inclusion in the daily trek schedule.

The official said they opened the booking for the site last December 15, and the slots for Monday’s return climb was filled up in just one day.

As a requirement, he said the climbers should be physically fit and strictly follow the minimum health protocols, especially when converging at the site.

These include the observance of safe physical distancing and the wearing of face mask and face shield as necessary, he said.

Hilado assured that they will strictly enforce the compliance to COVID-19 protocols by visitors to sustain the site’s operations.

The municipal government of Tboli, through Mayor Dibu Tuan, closed down the Lake Holon to tourists from January 6 to March 14 last year to pave the way for its annual rehabilitation, and eventually extended the closure due to the restrictions and control measures following the onset of COVID-19.

During the lake’s closure, the local government conducted various rehabilitation activities, including the upgrade of existing facilities at the campsite area, the natural view deck and other portions of the site.

It also developed new pitstops, featuring food establishments and scenic spots in the villages and communities traversed by the upgraded access road leading to the area.