The last leg of the ascent right before reaching the crater you will notice dark patches of earth at the sides of the trail. Steam vents out and the distinct almost rotten-egg odor gives a final call that indeed this is an active volcano.
Hiking an active volcano will always be a worthy experience. Every step will remind you that there is magma building pressure right below the surface. The silent notion that everything you see is but temporary when the monster awakens. Tell-tale signs of previous eruptions do dot the landscape. The distinct smell of volcanic ash and the occasional slither of sulfur register like an indelible memory never to be forgotten. This trekking experience checks out a bucket list to visit the world’s smallest and Philippines’ own Taal Volcano.
Hiking Taal Volcano
The adventure started as an impulse to hike on a weekend. Packing a set of clothes for changing, 2 liters of water and a resolve to see the crater is all we need to see this magnificent wonder. Breakfast was taken at the terminal right before we catch the bus heading south. The sun then chased the stars and the moon gave up her brightness. By the time that the sky was dyed blue, we are already in Tagaytay waiting for a tricycle that will bring us down to Talisay. The ride traversing the windy downhill slopes of the Highlands was an experience of its own. The cool fresh air kisses your skin; cold but welcoming.
Talisay is the gateway to Taal Volcano; this is where we need to register our visit. After a review of the landscape and activities that we are to take we then head on to the wharf. The boat ride is rather short as it only clocked at around 20 minutes. Nonetheless, it is memorable as it is my first boat ride over a freshwater lake.
The excitement magnifies as the view of the volcano enlarges upon approach. Soon the little Volcano that I always see is no longer small as it is bigger than I anticipated.
The Real Taal Volcano is not the Taal Volcano That We Know
The Taal volcano that we used to know is actually Binintiang Malaki and is actually dormant with last known activity dating back in 1952. Taal volcano is actually the major crater by the inner lake and is but a part of the 47-crater Taal volcanic complex.
With 33 recorded eruptions with the latest activity in 1965 in Tabari. This volcanic island in the middle of a lake is a treasure worth visiting. It is a haven for a community and an attraction to hundreds of visitors from across the globe. The main driver for the economy is fishing the now endangered endemic species of Tawilis that I came to love so much. Farming for root crops such as sweet potato is also common in the area thanks to the rich volcanic soil. Tourism also gives opportunities for this community to thrive in an area that water separates them from the mainland.
Trekking Along the Spanish Trail
After spending a few minutes at the tourist reception center we then took a 45-minute trek to the crater. The trail is uneven, dusty, and signs of previous eruptions are evident. Stations of the Cross are installed and can be used to assess how far still you need to hike. The trail can also be enjoyed riding a horse. The fascinating part of the trek is that you will realize that the ecology in the area is alive. This island also serves as a sanctuary for birds which you will occasionally notice at the canopies overhead.
At the last leg of the ascent right before reaching the crater you will notice dark patches of earth at the sides of the trail. Steam vents out and the distinct almost rotten-egg odor gives a final call that indeed this is an active volcano. Furthermore, the yellowish stains along the trail give evidence to the hints of sulfur in the air.
Red Rock Viewing Deck
Upon reaching the summit, the view of the Taal Volcano’s crater lake is so captivating that it easily rivals the Beautiful Disaster of Mt. Pinatubo. Soon after the small window for us to enjoy the view, rain brought fog that covered the whole vista. The updraft winds took several hours to lift the fog. The scenery is available again for my eyes to delight from the Red Rock view deck. It turns out that the black lava rock turns to red after being exposed to the elements after long periods of time. It is the reason as well as to why this landscape has that crimson color which gets more saturated after the showers of rain.
In this hike I learn the lesson of resilience and survival from the locals; it is not easy to thrive above in a piece of land right above where the magma is building pressure. All the things they have can be wiped out as eruption comes sooner or later. It is a noble work for PHILVOLCS to monitor the situation beneath the surface to minimize the impact when eruption comes.
Upon thinking deeper on this subject I realized that everything we have is all but temporary too. The only things that will remain constant are the moments we shared with our loved ones and the experiences of adventure that we took. With that in mind, I am truly grateful that this hike and the lesson it gave me became a page in the chapter of my life story. So you go for an adventure, you wander and not just wonder as mortality is too short but it is enough to live a life worth living.
Itinerary and Expenses
|4:00 am||Bus from Taft Terminal-Olivarez Plaza||100.00 PHP|
|7:00 am||Tricycle from McDonalds Olivarez to Talisay|
(Round trip good up to 5 persons)
|7:45 am||Arrival in Talisay and Tour Registration|
|8:10 am||Boat Ride from Talisay to Taal Volcano |
(Round trip good up to 7 persons)
|8:30 am||Arrival at Tourist Receiving Center|
(Boat Docking Fee)
|Individual Tourism Entrance Fee||100.00 PHP|
|Local Tour Guide’s Fee|
(Good up to 7 persons)
|Horseback Riding (optional)||500.00 PHP|
|9:30 am||Arrival at the crater|
|2:30 pm||Start of Descend|
|3:00 pm||Arrival at Tourist Receiving Center|
(With a Free Fresh Coconut)
|3:30 pm||Tricycle back to Olivarez Plaza|
|4:30 pm||Bus from Olivarez Plaza to Taft||100.00 PHP|
|8:30 pm||Arrival in Metro Manila|
Travel Agency: Taal Volcano and Taal Lake Direct Tours
Contact Person: Michael Deomampo
Cellphone Number: 09302004491