The Scenic Mapanuepe Lake in San Marcelino, Zambales

Camping is becoming a mainstream outdoor activity and if you haven’t tried one, look at this slice of paradise at Mapanuepe Lake in Zambales. Surely, this will change your mind to go outdoor.

In this travel guide, we will share with you the detailed information and tips to plan your trip on this relaxing lakeside camping!

History of Mapanuepe Lake

The devastating eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991 flooding the Mapanuepe valley and barangays of Aglao and Buhawen formed this now beautiful lake of Mapanuepe. Lahar is all around the place and one of the traces of the dark past is the steeple of the church jutting out of the water that is still visible today. 

Fast forward to the present, Mapanuepe Lake boasts its beautiful vast landscapes, thousands of pine trees, and lush green land making it an ideal camping ground. 

How to Get to Mapanuepe Lake

Two routes are available going to Mapanuepe Lake and depending on your ride, you can either choose the thrilling ride with your off-road vehicle or take the easier path with a boat ride. 

Easier Route

This route is recommended for the sedan and other cars not intended for off-road driving.

  1. Waze or Google Map San Marcellino Public Market. 
  2. From San Marcellino Public Market, pin Mapanuepe Lake or Mapanuepe Lake View Deck in Brgy. Aglao. The easier route will take you straight passing through some rough road lahar-covered area then an established pavement road with some zigzag spots. 
  3. Continue driving passing through residential areas until you reach the first stop to pay for Environmental Fee. From here, it would take less than 10 minutes to get to Mapanuepe Lake View Deck where you can park your car, pay the registration fee and arrange your boat ride to take you to Mapanuepe Lake.
  4. The boat ride is less than 10 minutes only but may get longer depending on the water current.

Challenging Route

This is advisable for 4×4 and or off-road vehicles. Motorcycles may also be suitable for this route.

  1. Waze or Google Map San Marcellino Public Market. 
  2. From San Marcellino Public Market, pin Mapanuepe Lake or Mapanuepe Lake View Deck but this time when you reach the Y intersection on the lahar road, take the left turn going down to the extensive lahar trail. 
  3. Follow the trail until you reach the river streams. The water could be deep at night and when it rains. You might cross along quarry companies along the way. Ask for direction if needed
  4. Local residents may help and guide you going to Mapanuepe Lake but we heard you can hire a tour guide. The trail takes around 30 – 50 minutes.

You planned your driving; now, let’s discover the things you can do in Mapanuepe Lake.

What to Do in Mapanuepe Lake

Overnight Camping / Car Camping

Mapanuepe Lake is best to experience thru overnight camping. Pitch your tent under the towering pine trees and enjoy the scenic view of the lake and the green grassy land. 

The camping ground is expansive and divided into three phases. The first phase is the one nearest to the boat docking area and the other two are on each side. These three phases share the same view of the lake so whichever you choose, you will have your share of paradise! Sounds good? 

Swimming at the Lake

The lake is said to have a high content of mercury and might be harmful to swimming but we’ve seen lots of campers who enjoyed bathing. We also managed to ask the locals and were informed that swimming is allowed. 

Picnic

Overnight camping let you take that cooking to the next level. You can bring in your favorite food and cook them for your dinner, breakfast, and lunch. 

If you are a frequent camper, the usual camping stove and all will be perfect on this venue. But if you have a 4×4 vehicle with you, definitely almost anything can be loaded for appetizing meals.

Make sure you bring your trash with you when you leave. 

Bonfire

Camping is better with a bonfire at times for smores and good night talks with friends and family. Be sure to check with the caretaker about the appropriate area for having a bonfire. You can also buy firewood for them if you haven’t brought any. 

Fishing

If you are into fishing, you can bring in your fishing rod and enjoy catching fish. Again, be reminded that the water might be contaminated due to mercury content. 

Kite Flying

The location of Mapanuepe Lake is ideal for kite flying especially during the late afternoon and first light when the weather is bearable.

Hammock

The thousands of towering pine trees serve as your pillar to tie your hammock. Lie down under the shade while enjoying the scenic views all around the place. 

Play with your Pet

There is no better place than a vast grassy land for your pets. We bring our chow-chow with us and enjoyed playing with him. This huge playground is perfect for running, fetching, or just resting down for our fur babies. Bring plenty of water for you and your pet buddy. Stay hydrated. 

Boat Riding

You can experience a short boat ride from Mapanuepe Lake View Deck for Php350 good for 4-5 pax. The rate let you enjoy the roundtrip boat ride going to Mapanuepe Lake that lasts less than 10 minutes per way. Wear your life vest at all times. 

Sunrise and Sunset Watching

Sunrise and sunset are something you don’t want to miss in Mapanuepe Lake. While the area is surrounded by huge pine trees and mountains, the painted color of the skies during sunrise and sunset is breathtaking and worth the wait.

Disconnect and Unwind

There is no network signal in Mapanuepe Lake making it your perfect venue to disconnect from the outside world and immerse with nature. 

If you don’t feel like doing anything, feel free to lie down, relax and take a good nap.

Photography and Videography

Whether you are a hobbyist or a professional photographer/videographer, Mapanuepe Lake is picturesque and will inspire you to take snapshots. It is simply beautiful and does not need additional props to look great. The natural beauty of Mapanuepe is superb.

Stargazing

At night, when there is little or no moonlight and the sky is clear, stargazing is one of the relaxing activities you can do at Mapanuepe Lake. If you love night photography, this is the perfect place for you.

Interact with Locals

Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga are home for our Aeta brothers. In Mapanuepe Lake, you can see them as your friendly “bangkero”, tour guide or selling goods like fruits and vegetables from their farm. Make sure to treat them with respect along with other locals in the area.

Biking

If you love cycling, the vast open space of the campsite is ideal for you. Pedal your bike along the scenic trail passing through large trees while enjoying the sunny weather and fresh air.

Mapanuepe Lake resembles the green grasslands of New Zealand thus the moniker “New Zealand of Zambales” but it has its own identity and should be known by its original name

The lake is best to experience during weekdays to avoid the large crowd but since the area is extensive, you can still get the best out of your visit even on a weekend.

Mapanuepe Lake is fresh, raw, and captivating. If you are looking for a place that is calm and relaxing, this could be the perfect place for you.

Entrances & Fees

Boat Ride Roundtrip – Php350/ 4 – 5 pax
Entrance Fee – Php30/head
Overnight Camping Fee – Php50/head
Day Tour Camping Fee – Php30/head

Things to Know & Other Tips

  • There are no restaurants and resorts on the campsite but you can find a small sari-sari store and stands selling buko, halo-halo, fresh fruits, puto, kakanin, and other traditional sticky delights.
  • There is no electricity and network signal in Mapanuepe Lake.
  • When using the common CR, fetch water in the nearby “poso” or hand water pump. This common CR is the nearest in Phase 1 but there are other common CR located in Phases 2 and 3.
  • Bring cling wrap or foil to cover your food against flies and flying termites (gamo-gamo).
  • Bring off lotion and insect repellants.
  • Bring a flashlight, lamp and other lights with you. The campsite is too dark at night.
  • The lake might be contaminated due to the high content of mercury. Make sure to check in the registration area if it is safe for swimming.
  • Be considerate to other campers. Avoid making loud and unnecessary noise, especially at night.
  • Bring your trash with you.
  • Practice the Leave No Trace principles. Do not take or damage the plants, trees, and others you find on the campsite.
  • Do not disturb the wildlife and livestock animals in the area.
  • Apply sunscreen/sunblock.
  • Wear comfortable clothing. Bring extra clothes with you.
  • Bring enough water with you.
  • It could be hot/humid at noon and even at night. Make sure to bring a fan with you. From midnight to dawn, the weather may get chilly. Bring a jacket and blanket with you.
  • The river/lake might have a strong current at times, make sure to wear your life vest at all times for your safety.
  • Bring enough cash with you.
  • Be a responsible traveler/camper
  • Enjoy!

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