Taal Volcano is a popular tourist attraction in Southern Luzon. I've seen it several times from the ridge in Tagaytay City but I haven't really got near to it. So, when my brother asked me if we could climb it, I quickly said yes. Joining us on one Sunday morning were my father, an uncle, 2 aunts and some cousins. We headed to Talisay Batangas, the jump-off point for the hike which is just 1.5 hours away from our home via Tagaytay City.
We took the treacherous concrete zigzag road called Ligaya Drive that leads to the town of Talisay. We also stopped along the way to take photos of the volcano. It really has one of the most picturesque and attractive views in the country. Woohoo! I couldn't help but admire the beauty of it, even if I've seen it countless times.
We then proceeded to where the boats to the Volcano island are located. There, we met Angelo (09197280514) who manages a boat rental service. He offered us a boat ride for 1,500 pesos round trip. Good deal for a trip to and from the volcano island.
We left the boat station at around 10:00 AM on board a big motorized banca. The trip went well as the lake is very calm. Along the way, you would see the commonly mistaken volcano, the small cone featured on most Taal Volcano postcards as seen from the ridge in Tagaytay.
It took us about 25 minutes to reach the island. Then we proceeded to the Tourist Reception Center to register and to pay the hiking fee of 50 pesos each.
Most of the tourists exploring the island choose to take a horse to get to the crater which costs around 500 pesos each. But since we really want to experience reaching the crater on foot, we opted to walk. We also prefer not to get a guide since based on my research, the trail to the crater lake is very straightforward. Being a weekend, there were a lot of tourists in the island (mostly Koreans) and we just followed where they go.
Considered as a Permanent Danger Zone by PHIVOLCS (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology), residing in the island is prohibited. But at the start of the trail you'll see several houses of farmers and fishermen residing in the island despite the warnings by the government. They settled in the island, risking their lives by earning a living from farming, fishing and tourism.
The trail is so dusty due to loose volcanic ash all over (especially when horses pass along your way) so it would be better if you have a cover on your face. It was hot! We are now beginning to feel the effects of the intense heat from the late morning sun. Good thing we brought water to cool us down.
At some point my aunt got tired and requested for a horse ride. Sige, pagbigyan ang matanda. Hahaha! We took one from the several horse operators that's been bugging us to take a horse. We were able to get it for only 250 pesos (2-way), that's 50% less than the usual rate if you get it from the operators at the start of the trail.
Since Taal volcano is an active volcano with several violent eruptions in the past, you'll see along the trail several steamy rocks and vents with steam coming out from it. Indeed the volcano is breathing and active!
Being with first-time hikers, it took us about an hour to reach the crater lake. We stopped several times to either take photos or simply enjoy the stunning views. Unpon reaching the crater lake, I couldn't help but to shout to release my excitement of finally reaching it, just like how I felt when I reached Mt. Pinatubo's crater lake. It was indeed so beautiful!
The view from the rim of the crater is breathtaking! It is worth the hike. The interior of the crater lake is greenish white, maybe because of its sulphuric content. The lake has very still dark blue water.
We explored the place to have other views of the lake from a different vantage point. And of course, picture taking is a must!
After spending about an hour at the crater, we decided to go down. I enjoyed this better than getting up the crater as I was able to appreciate more the views surrounding the volcano island. It took us about 30 minutes to reach the starting point and another 20 minutes via the motorized banca to the boat station where my father and my aunt are waiting for us.
Happened last March 11, 2012, this is part 1 of a 2-part series of "Conquering Taal Volcano" in Talisay Batangas.
SEE ALSO: Summer Destinations near Manila for less than 1,000 pesos Budget
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