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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

An Unplanned Pit Stop at Lake Caliraya

An unexpected hiccup in our road trip to Lucban, Quezon brought us to the beautiful Caliraya Lake where we got to experience the cool breeze of the mountain, lunch ala picnic style in a nipa hut by the lake and explore the beautiful Caliraya Lake by boat.

We were really annoyed to have come as far as Pagsanjan, Laguna only to learn that the bridge that would connect us to Lucban is under major repair and is closed to all types of vehicle. We were forced to go back and take the alternate and longer route to Quezon which is via Lumban, Laguna.

It turns out to be a blessing in disguise as that alternate route led us to an unscheduled stopover. The road to Caliraya was an uphill climb, and from our GPS map, we were going through the mountains. We didn't know we were heading to Caliraya Lake as who would have thought it's there 1200 feet above sea level.

Upon reaching what seems to be the highest point of the winding road, we saw a makeshift sign "Picnic Huts Here, Boat Ride Here" written by hand using black paint on a huge plywood. There were other cars stopping by and entering a sort of huge parking area covered in grass and surrounded by coconut trees.

We went it and we were welcomed by the inviting serenity of tables in nipa huts, tall coconut trees and the inviting view of the lake.

There are I think about 8 nipa huts all over the huge (we later learned the whole lot is about 2 hectares) property. The caretakers, a family entrusted by the owner to manage the area, offered us the table at the farthest side of the land, facing Caliraya Lake. The tables can be rented for Php300 per day each and parking is free. We were allowed to park in front of the hut too, which made it very convenient for us to unload our packed lunch.
It's the start of summer but it's cool and breezy at Caliraya. We were very comfortable even without any fans installed in the hut and enormously enjoyed our lunch of pork adobo, longganisa, tinapang bangus, pinakbet and fresh buko juice.

For a cheap price of Php15, the caretakers will pick coconut from one of the hundreds of trees in the property and serve it fresh with a straw. We ordered 10 fresh coconut and set aside the softdrinks we brought from Manila. After we finished the juice, we asked for the coconuts to be split open so we can enjoy the meat too. A drink and dessert for Php15!

After our sumptuous lunch, we were offered to take a tour of the lake by motor boat for Php1500 an hour. The boat's capacity is up to 20 people but since it's just 8 of us adults and 3 kids, I managed to haggle the price to Php1200.

The boat ride took us around Caliraya Lake bordering the towns of Lumban, Cavinti and Kalayaan Laguna. We were amazed by the number of resort-like private properties we saw around the lake. My google search later revealed Caliraya Lake is a man-made lake and most properties around the neighbourhood are owned by the rich and the famous of Manila.

this property is apparently owned by a General
(hmm, I smell something fishy)
We had a great time at this extra, unexpected stop and next time we come, we'll be more prepared. Perhaps we can go fishing or bring a tent as the caretakers said we can put up a tent for overnight stay. Tempting but not kid-friendly.
The only thing I didn't like here are the toilets. They only have 'dry toilet' which is the one with no water tank for flushing. They use the lake water to flush it.
I wish I could promote this "property" but it's unnamed so I can't recommend it.  I guess the easiest way to identify the location is it's the first lot you will see (to your left) upon reaching the peak of the road. I think the make shift sign can easily be missed but once you see the prominent signs of Caliraya Country Club then you have passed the "property".


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