mapanuepe lake diy itinerary

2022 Mapanuepe Lake DIY Travel Guide (Budget & Itinerary)

As nature-lovers and campers ourselves, Milo and I went to Mapanuepe Lake last July 31-August 1 of this year to breathe some fresh air and relax. And I’m glad we did it because this place promises a relaxing weekend outdoors!

Mapanuepe Lake in San Marcelino Zambales skyrocketed to fame this year because of its features that resembles New Zealand — hence the name Little New Zealand. As a result, car campers and nature-lovers alike mobbed the place every weekend for months now.

Mapanuepe Lake itinerary

Mapanuepe Lake Pre Travel Guide

We got the chance to chitchat with a caretaker named Kuya Baltazar who is also a local aeta while we were waiting for the rain to stop. Mapanuepe Lake is actually a private property owned by ex-mayor Jose Rodriguez who happens to be a relative of showbiz star Rubi Rodriguez. Kuya Baltazar gave us the details and information for me to create a Mapanuepe Lake DIY travel guide so say hi to him for me please!

Mapanuepe Lake drone shot
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How to go to Mapanuepe Lake DIY

I must say, going there the DIY-way is a bit tricky. You’ll probably end up finding yourselves in the middle of nowhere OR in a very secluded sitio. Good news is there’s a way to avoid this! And that is to simply a hire a local tour guide, haha!

As DIY travelers ourselves, of course we did not hire a tour guide because we wanted to lessen our expenses. Turns out it’s a bad decision, a very bad decision indeed.. The road to Mapanuepe Lake has no concrete signage or directions to follow. Not even an obvious trail to follow.

Rule of the thumb is get yourself a local tour guide! They are our local aetas you can find anywhere and they will offer you a tour guide service. Their rate is Php300.00 but that depends on your haggling skills.

Mapanuepe Lake DIY

From San Marcelino Public Market

Navigate your Google Maps/Waze app to get to San Marcelino Public Market. From here, pin Mapanuepe Lake on your maps and just follow the direction until you come to a left and right turning point. There are habal-habal drivers from here and they will also offer you a tour guide service to Mapanuepe Lake. Travel time is about an hour.

Insider Tip: if you are planning to bring your vehicle until Mapanuepe Lake, advise the tour guide that you are doing so. If not, they will guide you to Barangay Aglao where you will leave your vehicle and ride a boat to cross the lake going to the Little New Zealand. I don’t recommend this since it will cost you more plus you don’t get to bring your car and stuff. So make sure to tell them that you opt to bring your vehicle with you.

Furthermore, vehicles who can enter are pickups and motorcycles that are built to cross some running water. For lowered type of vehicles and motorbikes, it is more advisable to leave your vehicle to Barangay Aglao parking lot and take the boat ride.

Barangay aglao mapanuepe
This is the lake you will cross from Barangay Aglao

Important Contact

I highly recommend to contact a local tour guide before visiting Mapanuepe Lake. It will be smart to know the weather before visiting the place too. Contact Kuya Reagan through 09099816998 or you can reach him on Facebook. Just tell him you got his contact information from me.

Food, Bathroom & Accommodation

The cherry on top of our whole stay here was the camping experience. Of course, there are no restaurants or accommodations available here but there are tent rentals available for Php350.00/night. You will setup your own tent and hammocks, cook your own food like what campers do. So make sure to bring your camping gears! Most importantly, do not forget you rain tarps and camping lights. The weather is unpredictable here so best to be sure.

Moreover, there are small stores around the place where you can buy water and other food/snacks. 1 gallon of water cost Php150.00 which is a bit pricey. So if you are bringing a car with you make sure to bring water.

For the bathroom, it’s literally everywhere! I love how fast they attended to the tourists needs so they built restrooms and they are actually scattered everywhere.

camping mapanuepe lake
bathroom cr accommodation

Fees & Expected Expenses

The fees can vary depending on how you choose to go here. Whether you are (1) bringing your car until Mapanuepe or (2) entering Mapanuepe from a boat ride in Barangay Aglao, fees will absolutely change. So let’s try to check it out below for the fees to expect depending on how you wish to go here. Refer to How to go to Mapanuepe Lake DIY above.

Note: those who will bring their own car until Mapanuepe will not be riding a boat. Those who will leave their vehicles to Barangay Aglao parking lot are required to pass by the lake and ride a boat.

Via Boat Ride From Brgy AglaoVia Private Vehicle Straight To Mapanuepe
San Marcelino Entrance FeePhp15.00Php15.00
Guide Fee (optional)Php300.00 whole groupPhp300.00 whole group
Brgy Aglao FeesPhp25.00 environmental fee; Php30.00 entrance feeNONE
Boat RentalPhp500.00/group roundtrip; Php1000.00/group trip to Sunken Church (optional)NONE
Mapanuepe Lake Parking FeeDay-tour Car Php300.00 Motorcycle Php25.00; Overnight Car Php600.00 Motorcycle Php150.00Day-tour Car Php300.00 Motorcycle Php25.00; Overnight Car Php600.00 Motorcycle Php150.00

Important Tips From Joan’s Footprints (Mapanuepe Lake DIY)

  • No signal reception, No source of light. Make sure to bring camp lights and flashlights if you are planning to do an overnight.
  • Bring enough cash, there are no ATM machines here. From the public market of San Marcelino make sure to withdraw enough cash.
  • Bring rain tarp.
  • PLEASE BRING A HUMBLE ATTITUDE especially to our local aetas. No littering. Respect the place, respect nature. Do not leave your trashes behind and please do not take anything.
  • Swimming is not allowed in the lake due to the mercury. Do not be disrespectful and overrule the instructions provided. So as swimming at night.
  • Bonfire is allowed but make sure to let the local caretakers know so that they will guide you to the proper place where you can do a bonfire. Let’s try not to create forest fire, please people.
  • To those bringing a drone, please be mindful of the hawks. They are literally everywhere.
camping zambales
new zealand zambales DIY
Mapanuepe Lake DIY

The Little New Zealand In Zambales

The magnificent lake with its still water, mirrors the surrounding mountains and skies like some tranquil dream. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, exhaling air and thus releasing all the negative energy. Channeling my inner spirit, focusing to live in the present moment. I opened my eyes and now looking above the pine tree forests, I saw hawks gliding upwards and downwards and through the thick clouds covering the mountains. I tried to search around more, beneath the meadows are group of cows and horses existing together.. Then I told myself ahhh, this is the life I seek once in a while.

Mapanuepe Lake Phase 1

Before arriving to the campsites, you will see a signage that goes to phase 1 (left route) and phase 2 (right route). Refer to the photo below.

new zealand zambales

This is where we chose to set-up our camp overnight instead of phase 2. If you are for camping scenery and better view of the lake, camp to phase 2. But take note that there are much tourists to this place compared to phase 1. Phase 1 on the other hand is your “low key” campsite, best for campers who prefers a less crowded area.

Mapanuepe Lake DIY
travel guide to mapanuepa lake
Mapanuepe Lake DIY

Mapanuepe Lake Phase 2

Phase 2 is where you should camp if you’re aiming for that IG-worthy shot for the ‘gram. Yeap! I think this place gives more of that New Zealand feels compared to phase 1. My best tip would be camping here on weekdays to avoid the influx of tourists on weekends. Thus enjoying the place to yourselves.

Mapanuepe Lake itinerary

Boat Ride To The Sunken Church/Village

One of the most famous thing to do here is boat ride to the sunken church and/or village. The sunken church and/or village is the tragic aftermath of Mt. Pinatubo’s wrath. You can go to this place by renting a boat for Php1,000.00/group. We didn’t get the chance to go here because I simply chose not to. Reminiscing the event and just even thinking that a whole village burried into the deep earth makes my heart sad. I just pray to God for the souls to rest in peace.

mapanuepe lake drone shot
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Help me improve my Mapanuepe Lake DIY travel guide! By commenting suggestions in the comment section below, I am very open to new ideas. Drone shots credits to Milo Quinantoto.
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