If you have been hiking in Palawan for some time now, you’ve probably heard of Atong Lake. Enchanted and mysterious, this lake is perched in the middle of the lush forests of Narra in southern Palawan as part of the Beaufort Mountains Ultramafics Geological Region.
Local stories might have kept hikers from braving this beauty, but last weekend, the Wild Expeditions Palawan, once again made the adventure possible. Read on for details.
Also known as Atabay, the lake is located 676 meters above sea level (MaSL) east of Sultan Peak, starting in Sitio Mariwara, Barangay Princess Urduja, Narra in southern Palawan with 6/9 difficulty level.
Our team of 18, together with the local guides, threaded through Batang-Batang River to Shuba/Syuba River.
Slippery rocks dot the stream where the water rushed to the plains, sometimes calm but oftentimes raging. The slow hike upstream greeted us with waterfalls, plunge pools, and channels of enthralling clear green and blue hues reflecting either the trees framing it or the sky above.
Rivers often lead us to quick forest treks where pitcher plants, Begonia sp. and other unique flora reside.
After 6 hours and approximately 30 river crossings, our team then began our hike up to the location where we passed by the endemic Palawan horned frog (Megophrys ligayae).
An hour of continuous assault and several minutes of descent brought us to the enchanted Atong Lake, a two to three-hectare lake trapped in the shoulder of the mountain, fenced by rich vegetation creating a dramatic mirror image in the waters and probably the only still freshwater in Palawan located in this elevation.
The best thing about this remote camping experience was we got to spend two nights and an entire day in our tents and hammocks with the view of the lake shared with friends and new acquaintances, relaxing over morning coffee, preparing hearty meals, sharing healthy banters, listening to local stories and getting drunk under the endless vision of stars.
The jump-off to the Atong Lake can be reached via private and public vehicles approximately two hours from Puerto Princesa City. If you want to hike this mysterious lake, make sure to coordinate with the Tourism Office of Local Government Unit of Narra or for an easier and safer climb, you can also create a group of 10 hikers or more and coordinate with the Wild Expeditions Palawan.
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Rattans and leeches dot the path and the rocks and the trail is slippery – it is advisable for you to wear appropriate hiking clothes and shoes and bring lightweight waterproofed gears. Our team spent PHP 1,800 each for this three-day hiking and camping experience – this includes transportation, lead, and local guides and porters, insurance and meals.
Lastly, respect local beliefs and adhere to the principles of “Leave no Trace” all the times – leave nothing, take nothing, disturb nothing and change nothing. Happy responsible trails!
Special thanks to Judd, Donard, and sir Nelson for the photos!