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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Hit the road to a lakeside respite at Caliraya

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A quick reboot of the mind was the goal. The humdrum day to day existence in this pandemic was mentally challenging and draining for us all. Needless to say, we need that freedom to leave town and remove the rust from the lockdowns.

We thought of a place that is outdoorsy, expansive and one that won’t remind you of Covid-19 infections. Caliraya lake is what came to mind. The drive from Manila is picturesque and well worth it once you start the ascent to the lake area. The early rains brought cold and damp air as you open the car window.

Guests can enjoy different water activities at the lake.

Decades-old artificial lake

Caliraya lake is a man-made lake constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1938, the purpose of which is to create an embankment dam for the towns nearby. It is now used by the National Power Corporation and was commissioned in 1942 as the Caliraya Hydroelectric Power Plant. It is located at Lumban, Laguna 1,200 feet above sea-level.

Surrounding the lake are three towns, namely, Cavinti, Lumban and Kalayaan. Now, it is home to several watering places where you can visit for the day or stay for a night or two; a holiday experience of the great outdoors for the whole family.

Molave Hut, also known as Big Kubo, can accommodate up to eight people.

Caliraya lake hidden forest

With the abundance of resorts left and right, we decided to go back to basics and rough it out even for just an overnight stay.

Caliraya Lake Hidden Forest started out as a private escape for husband and wife team Joseph Africa and Marie Borromeo. Weekends and special occasions were spent with their friends and family back in May of this year.

The tree house awaits visitors who are kids at heart and For meals, guests can cook or order local dishes.

It was then that a close friend suggested turning the place into a resort and opening it to the public. Their permit to operate was granted last September and operations went full blast. From two huts, they now have eight and they have plans of expanding in the near future.

Pathways were simplified with wood and bamboo, a constant reminder of the resort’s mission statement of enjoying the simple joys of life.

What’s praiseworthy is that they were able to give jobs to locals who lost their jobs because of the pandemic. These people now have regular income and have also acquired additional skills.

Back to basics

The swimming pool is cool and ready for guests.

The pebbled driveway entering the resort speaks of the “back to basics” theme of the place. It reminded us of a summer camp close to the lake. We knew that we would have to rough it up a bit and then enjoy the comforts of home at the end of the day.

We were booked at their Molave hut (Big kubo) which can accommodate up to 8 guests. The wooden and bamboo structure has two rooms downstairs, and a spacious attic for eight guests. The unit also has its own bathroom, and a small kitchen with an electric stove and rice cooker.

Guests can cook their own meals or order food from the resort. They offer delectable dishes like Lechon roll, Liempo bites, Kare kare, Pork shanghai, and Cordon bleu among others, along with several pasta favorites like Spaghetti and Carbonara. Drinks on the menu included coffee, hot tea, juices and lemonade.

The resort is also pet friendly. Cassie, our 1-year-old golden retriever, was able to join us and didn’t really want to go home when it was time.

Have some fun exploring the property on ATVs.

Great outdoors

Our first diversion for the day is the ATV (all-terrain vehicle) tour of the surrounding mountains, streams and waterfalls. The vehicles were new and much safer than the older models. For starters, we had a brief orientation with our guide as he discussed how to operate and control the vehicles. He also reminded us to be ready to be splashed with mud as you drive through mud puddles and grassy knolls.

The heart-pumping and fun-filled experience made us less aware of the dirt and mud as spatters of it hit our bodies as we drove past. This was a rare moment that the pandemic didn’t even exist.

The event was capped off with a hearty dinner served at our hut. It was then time to plan for the next day’s activities.

The next morning was spent with water activities like jet skiing, swimming and being pulled to great speeds onboard towables. There’s even a speed boat that can take guests around and also see the other resorts nearby. The lake was cold but calm. Along with the scenic views, it was more than enough to energize and relax us at the same time.

This pandemic will be here in this world for a while and we’ve certainly found a way to leave its stranglehold for a short time. Let’s do our research, travel, go al fresco and take in the great outdoors.

Image courtesy of Ardee P. de los Angeles

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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