Talisay: Taal Volcano – A Day Hike Guide
We thought, like most people, that the tiny volcano that we are seeing from Tagaytay protruding out of Taal Lake is the Taal Volcano itself. Actually, this is not really the case when we went to the smallest and one of the most active volcanoes in the country.
Very early in the morning, we traveled by boat through the lake going to Taal Volcano Island. This is the most recommended time for such excursion to avoid the scorching daytime heat during the trek. Even with relatively calm waters, we were almost drenched with the splash of water as we sailed.
As we approached the island, we passed by what we thought of as the volcano. This is actually the Binintiang Malaki, one of the forty-seven or so craters identified in the island. This is not the only crater, according to our boatman, and it is one of the initial misconceptions of almost every tourist that he encountered.
In less than twenty minutes, we arrived at the island shore. We went to the Tourism Office to register. The trail that we will use is said to be in good condition so we didn’t hire tour guides and horses. The office is very informative with its infographics displayed on its walls.
To avoid the daytime heat we immediately started our trek. The trail is dusty. And because the holy week just concluded at the previous weekend, there are thirteen stations of the cross still standing along the trail, which served as our marker, though their distance varied from each other. There are also stalls built along the route, and the prices of goods increase with altitude (for instance, the coconut juice sold just PhP30 at the base becomes PhP60 near the top).
Even the sun has not risen yet, the surrounding is still hot due to the presence of volcanic vents. During windy conditions, you will be hit with bags of dust.
Arriving at the top is very rewarding as you witness the exotic beauty it offers. Imagine from here, you can see the Vulcan Point within a volcanic basin or caldera within the Taal Volcano Island within the Taal Lake within Luzon in the Pacific Ocean. To be simpler, it is an island within the lake, at the middle of the volcano, within a much larger lake, within a large island surrounded by an ocean.
At the summit is a view deck built and stores that sell refreshments. Because it’s Saturday, the place is crowded not just by compatriots but also by tourists of different nationalities. Thankfully we came in earlier that we managed to take decent photos without having to squeeze through the crowds.
Just a couple of meters away is a Red Lava trail, with a separate access fee (PhP50 per person). A trail suited for those seeking adventure, the trail has tall and deep areas in both sides. It also offers an exotic attraction on its own. From here you can see the steam venting from the caldera rim with the smell of sulfur.
Amidst the mesmerizing beauty lies its dark side. Thousands of lives have already been lost by its eruptions. With thirty-three recorded eruptions, it is the second most active volcanoes in the country after Mayon.
After enjoying its majestic view, we decided to descend. We thought of our boatman waiting for us, who upon seeing us arriving smiled and asked, ‘sir nag-enjoy ba kayo (did you enjoyed)?’ We just replied with smiles because we can’t find the right word to express our enjoyment.
Boat Rental – Php2,000 (Good for 7)
Registration – 100 each
Terminal Fee – 50 per boat
Horse Ride – 500
Guide – 500 good for 7
Red Lava – 50
Sumbrero – 50
Bulalo – 550
We highly recommend J-Cel Boat Rental for it’s both kind and very accommodating. Aside from that, you can also bargain. After the hike, you can take a rest in one of their cottages and have a sip of their bulalo for just PhP500 (good for 4).
J-CEL Boat Rental
0999-6666874 or 0905-4219874
Take a bus going to Tagaytay and get off at Oliveros. From here there e-trikes you can hire for PhP500 roundtrip, good for 3 and they will patiently wait for you as you hike.
or if you have a private vehicle go to Tagaytay and upon arrival at Oliveros descend going to Talisay. Just drive carefully because aside from being steep you will be encountering many sharp curves.
- Bring drinks and light snaks as the prices on-site are pretty inflated.
- Bring face masks, handkerchiefs or anything that you can cover your faces with because the sands blasted by the winds can be painful especially during strong winds.
- It is advisable to go early to avoid the hot sunshine.
- Bring extra clothes. If you will not be drenched by your own sweat you can be splashed during the boat ride.
- If travelling alone, join with other passengers on a boat that are not yet full (each boat can accommodate up to 7 people).
- The volcano had several violent eruptions in the past causing loss of life in the island and the populated areas surrounding the lake, with the death toll estimated at around 5,000 to 6,000. Because of its proximity to populated areas and its eruptive history, the volcano was designated a Decade Volcano, worthy of close study to prevent future natural disasters. All volcanoes of the Philippines are part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. (Wikipedia)
- It also has the unusual distinction of being the world’s only volcano within a lake within a volcano within a lake within a volcano. The largest lake is inside a large volcanic caldera that was produced hundreds of thousands of years ago by a catastrophic eruption by a supervolcano that was thousands of times larger than Krakatua. Inside the lake is a smaller volcano and lake with a small island topped by a relatively new volcanic crater. (Source: factsanddetails.com)
Taal is only 1,000 feet tall but don’t let its small size deceive you. It has a deadly history. The worst of its numerous eruptions killed thousands of people in 1754. But as devastating as this eruption was it also provided nutrients for the region’s fertile soil which today is ideal for raising sugar cane, coffee and cattle.