Zambales, a coastal province on the western seaboard of Luzon, is a popular destination for weekend getaways. Its diverse terrain offers something for every type of traveler, from private coves and nearby islands for beach-lovers to barreling waves for surfers, mountains and hills for hikers, and verdant land for campers. One hidden gem in Zambales worth visiting is Mapanuepe Lake in San Marcelino.
This outdoor attraction, located at the foot of Mount Pinatubo, offers stunning photo opportunities with its picturesque scenery. The lake is surrounded by mountains, Zambales’ famous pine trees, grazing carabaos, and tranquil waters that can easily calm your nerves. However, behind its peaceful facade, Mapanuepe Lake has a tragic past.
History of Mapanuepe Lake
Mapanuepe Lake, similar to the stunning Pinatubo Lake, was formed following the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Pinatubo. It was originally the Mapanuepe Valley, home to several barangays and rivers. After the eruption, the combination of heavy rainfall and volcanic debris produced lahar that blocked the Mapanuepe River, resulting in the submergence of the entire valley and its towns, including a church tower. Visitors can still see the tower’s metal cross in the middle of the lake. Interestingly, studies show that the Mapanuepe Valley was originally a lahar-formed lake from previous volcanic eruptions.
What to Do
When visiting Mapanuepe Lake, you can take a one-hour boat ride around the submerged Sta. Barbara Chapel and then head to the Mapanuepe Lake View Deck. Camping is also allowed in the surrounding grasslands in Aglao, so you can bring your own tent for an outdoor adventure.
How to Get There
To reach Mapanuepe Lake, you can take a bus to San Marcelino, Zambales, which takes about four hours. From there, you can ride a jeep to either Barangay Aglao or Barangay Buhawen. Alternatively, you can bring a 4×4 vehicle and drive across the lahar-filled roads through the mountains.
Experience the beauty and history of Mapanuepe Lake in Zambales, a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.