The beauty of Mahagnao-A A +A
Monday, September 20, 2010
BURAUEN, Leyte - The bumpy roads make travel to the far-flung village of Mahagnao stressful and inconvenient but the ordeal is forgotten when you get to the Mahagnao Volcano National Park.
Situated 1,200 meters above sea level and surrounded with Leyte's natural wonders, the park is listed as one of the protected areas (category III) identified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Category III consists of small protected areas with high visitor value.
Tourists travel to Mahagnao Volcano National Park to walk among a vast array of flora and fauna, enjoy a dip at the hot springs and marvel at the sight of volcanic craters.
The landmark to the park, which is about 22 km away from the center of Burauen town, is a lake known as Malagsum Lake because of its green acidic water. Malagsum is one of two lakes found at the southern flank of the dormant Mahagnao Volcano.
From there, one can walk under century-old shade trees leading to the freshwater Mahagnao Lake.
A resident of the area, 73-year-old Victoriano C. Agustin, told us that the lake is a favorite bathing place of some 2,000 village dwellers because of the fresh and clean water.
"This is where we do our laundry and catch fish if we're not able to buy something to eat from the market in town," Agustin said.
Visitors can take boat trips on the lake while campers who wish to stay overnight may rent a hut along the shore.
The lake is not only a popular tourist destination but is also the source of a 65-kilowatt micro-hydropower plant, which supplies energy to some 200 households in Barangay Mahagnao. It also supplies the energy needs of residents of the nearby villages of Logsongan and Cansiboy.
The pristine lake water is very clear. It's like a small ocean of freshwater surrounded by refreshing sights of ferns, lilies, aerial plants, tropical shrubs, and hundreds of birds residing throughout the primary forest encompassing the entire mountains of Leyte.
The river system from the lake, which is the source of power, goes down to a stunning falls. The way to the waterfalls is ideal for trekkers and too tough for many since visitors have to go down the mountain with steep slope and walk through up to chest deep river water for an hour. But it's worth it because one will surely enjoy watching the height of falling water and tiny drops blown by wind that freeze the green surroundings.
Going to the other side of the lake, tourists can take a closer look to the sleeping Mahagnao Volcano. People commonly called it a "sulfur mountain." Study shows that the andesitic volcano contains a steep-walled forested summit crater open to the south.
Thermal areas with fumaroles and mud pots occur on the flanks. An eruption was reported from Mahagnao in 1895, but no details are available.
Mahagnao Volcano and National Park is an established national park since 1937. It is a dormant with a huge crater turned that turned into a lake. There are also multiple hot springs for soaking,
The easiest way to reach the national park is from Tacloban, which has its own airport with regular flights to and from Manila. From Tacloban, visitors can take a 60-minute bus ride to Burauen.
At the town proper, there are motorcycles-for-hire that make regular trips to Mahagnao that passes through seven barangays before reaching the lake.
Drivers are well-trained to keep the single motorcycle in balance while going up and down the hilly and bumpy road. The road is accessible to cars and trucks with big tires. The travel experience is exciting for first timers.
Passing through seven barangays from the town center to Mahaganao, there are small portions of the road with concrete pavement.
Barangay Mahagnao chair Nida D. Seno has called on the government to improve the road condition from the town to their barangay.
"I believe that more tourists will come here if the road is better. [Hopefully] other tourism developments will follow," she said in an interview. (Leyte Samar Daily Express)