The Islandception of Taal Volcano

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

April 13, 2014

Recognized as the smallest active volcano in the world, Taal Volcano's unexplained shape and location on an island within a lake within an island, makes it a unique geologic wonder.

One of the Philippines' active volcanoes and part of the "Pacific Ring of Fire", the trail to the Taal Volcano brings a special blend of excitement and edge to adventurers.

Taking the Taal Route is lucky number 13 on my Bucket List and the buena mano on my 10 Summits before 25.

It began on a cool Sunday morning in Ligaya Drive, where Dennis and I waited for our contact, Kuya Angelo. It was fortunate that we stayed at Famous Inn, for Ligaya Drive was just a two-minute sprint from the former.

A little past 6:30AM, we were plying the winding and less traveled road to where our boat ride will begin.

The trip from Ligaya Drive to the jump-off point lasted for about 30 minutes.
The MyPhone never ceases to surprise me with its beautiful photos
After settling the fees (will enumerate these later), we got into Kuya Maynard's motorized banca.

By the way, we were told that the local tourism office had implemented a "No Tour Guide, No Entry" policy and thus a tour guide - Kuya Vergel - came along with us. I, personally, have no issues about going on guided tours especially when there's just the two of us. An adventure is more enjoyable when you get to help the locals make a decent living - plus you get to have a personal photographer with you. Haha!
Kuya Vergel and Kuya Maynard
To Starboard! :D
Anyway, after a 30-minute boat ride, we found ourselves docking on the shores of the Taal Island. It was still early and we were the first trekkers to arrive. It was to our advantage because not only was the sun not yet on its full power, the dirt road was still undisturbed by both hooves and feet and therefore dust was not much of a concern at that point.

In any event, off we went to take on the trail.

We were told that there was another island that used to be open for trekking, but it erupted some time in 1992 and now it's closed; the crater is now a thick unexplored forest (at least according to Kuya Vergel).
The aforementioned island
We kept moving. I kept muttering that I was so out of shape and that I needed more cardio. But never did I say I wanted to go back. Determination is key. I jokingly told Dennis that we were stealing breaks under the pretense of photo ops. Hehe. Para-paraan.

We trudged for more than an hour, my breath a rasp and a pull, but upon seeing this, I was renewed:

Another advantage of hiking in the early morn: you get to have the place all to yourself. No photo bombers.

After catching our breath, Kuya Vergel led us to what he called "Pulang Bato" (red rock). 

And the view from here is so worth all the dirt and unhealthy sun exposure. Screw melanoma!

We stayed here for almost an hour then went back to the main view deck. Tourists were already milling about the place and that was when we decided to start our descent.

It was awesome that we got to have the place to ourselves for a while. Nothing beats a majestic place sans the brouhaha of other tourists.

How to Get There:
From Angono going to Tagaytay
Ride a jeepney bound for Cubao. Get off at Santolan LRT station, fare as of writing is 25pesos. Ride the LRT heading to Recto and alight at Araneta Center Cubao Terminal Station, fare is 14pesos. Walk to MRT Line 1 and buy a ticket to Taft. At Taft, ride a bus or a jeepney going to Coastal Mall. There are buses here going to Tagaytay, fare is around, depending whether "ordinary" or "air-con." Get off at Olivarez and ride a jeep bound for People's Park. Alight at Ligaya Drive (it will be on your right when you're from Olivarez), near Tagaytay Elementary School, fare is 12pesos. There will be locals who offer boat rides to Taal, I recommend you make arrangements beforehand with Kuya Angelo (+639197280514) instead. He's trusted by and And of course, Celineism!

Expenses and Fees
Jeepney Fare from Angono to LRT Santolan - Php25.00
Santolan to Araneta Center-Cubao Station - Php14.00
Cubao to Taft - Php18.00
Bus Fare from Taft to Coastal - Php17.00
Bus Fare From Coastal Terminal to Olivarez - Php74.00
Jeepney Fare to Famous Inn - Php12.00 (alternately, you can ride a tricycle for Php50.00)
Famous Inn to Ligaya Drive - Free coz we sprinted!
Tricycle to and from boat ride jump-off - Php500.00
Boat Ride - Php1,500.00 (good for six persons)
Tour Guide - Php500.00
Docking Fee - Php100.00
Environmental Fee - Php.100.00/pax

Start your trek early, ideally 7AM
Bring hats or anything that will protect you from the sun
Wear sunscreen/sunblock
Bring lots of water
Bring snacks
Take your trash with you
Do a sidetrip to Picnic Grove and/or People's Park for a jampacked day

Last but definitely not the least,
Be a responsible adventurer!

Cheers to the next adventure!

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