BATANGAS | The Hike to Taal Volcano from Tagaytay City | Lakad Pilipinas

Taal Volcano Hike

An islet within a volcanic lake within a natural lake, all within another island—Luzon Island, that is. It took me a while to figure out what the island within a lake that is on an island within a lake that is on an island phrase that kept coming up whenever Taal Volcano is mentioned, totally forgetting that Luzon is an island too, lol!

Taal Volcano Islet Hike
VULCAN POINT, AN ISLET IN THE MIDDLE OF TAAL VOLCANO’S CRATER

I visited this conundrum of a volcano a couple of years back, remembering it after a failed hike from our Taal Vista Hotel staycation. Tired from always looking at that volcano in the middle of Taal Lake from the many restaurants lining the Tagaytay ridge, I, together with a few companions decided to finally take that ride down to the town of Talisay and see the volcano up close.

Taal Volcano Hike Crater
GREEN WATERS OF THE CRATER LAKE

We actually came straight from Manila at the time, braving the horrendous traffic leading up to the highlands. We really didn’t have any Tagaytay itinerary on hand, we went there only for the Taal hike. It was almost noon when we arrived, alighting at the Olivarez Rotunda where most of the touts offering a boat to Taal Volcano hang out.

Taal Volcano Hike Sulfur Vents
SULFUR VENTS ALONG THE TRAIL TO THE CRATER

I’ve heard a lot of bad things about these guys, overcharging tourists with their hidden and additional fees, so I was pretty upfront with the one we dealt with, asking exactly the amount we would only be paying, adding that we wouldn’t be paying any more than that.

The guy said that these would be the fees for a hike to Taal (updated as of this writing):

PHP150.00 ~ tricycle rental for three persons one way
PHP300.00 to PHP500.00 ~ tricycle rental going back
PHP2,000.00 ~ boat fee, good up to seven persons
PHP50.00 ~ boat landing fee, per boat
PHP100.00 ~ environmental fee, per person
PHP500.00 ~ horse ride, optional
PHP500.00 ~ guide fee per group, optional

 

We could’ve taken the much cheaper jeeps plying the Tagaytay-Talisay route, but it was already quite late and there aren’t that many trips per day. Another option we could have taken was to go straight to Talisay from Manila via a bus to Batangas Pier, then another to Tanauan-Lipa, and finally a jeep to Talisay Terminal—but we didn’t know that then. Or, to avoid all hassles, we could’ve just booked a tour of Taal online straight from Manila. 

In the end, we agreed on his price and rode the tricycle down the winding road towards Talisay where the boat going to Volcano Island docks. We were five in the group and it’s a miracle we fitted inside the vehicle (we paid extra, by the way).

Taal Volcano Hike Boat Ride
BINITIAN MALAKI IS WHAT MOST PEOPLE PRESUME AS TAAL’S CRATER. WELL, IT USED TO BE.

It took about forty minutes to reach Talisay. We stopped at Rock Fort Lake, on one of the many resorts fronting the waterside and was then led to the docks where a boat awaited us. Soon enough, we were skimming across Taal Lake with the Taal Volcano’s Binitiang Malaki cinder cone—the crater that most people associate Taal Volcano with but isn’t really it’s crater—as close as I’ve seen it yet.

Taal Volcano Hike Boat Ride
THE RATHER ROUGH BOAT RIDE TO TAAL VOLCANO. BE SURE TO BRING A CHANGE OF CLOTHES.

The ride took about an forty minutes and I was actually surprised at how rough it was. I thought that lake rides were supposed to be calm and serene. We were drenched when we landed at Volcano Island.

Taal Volcano Hike
THE TRAIL LEADING TO THE CRATER IS VERY DUSTY. A FACE MASK IS A MUST.

Visitors to Taal Volcano are required to register at the tourism office before going up. They asked us if we will avail of a guide, but we politely declined, we knew that we could just easily follow those going up to the crater. They asked us if we wanted to take a horseback ride going up, we again politely declined.

Taal Volcano Hike
THE TRAIL IS ACTUALLY VERY EASY

From the small community living at the shore of Taal—I wasn’t aware that people still actually live here, considering how this is the second most active volcano in the Philippines—we proceeded to the popular tourist trail, which isn’t hard to follow at all.

Taal Volcano Hike Crater
A VIEW OF THE CRATER’S SHORELINE

There are actually three trails going to Taal; the Daang Kastila trail, the Kristy Kenney trail, and the Calauit Trail. The first one is what most tourists take, the same one we took. And that last one, dubbed as the Secret Trail, would actually send you all the way down to the caldera lake of Taal itself.

Taal Volcano Hike Trail
VERY DRY AND DUSTY TRAIL

Taal Volcano Hike Horseback Ride
IF YOU DON’T WANNA WALK, YOU CAN RENT A HORSE RIDE

The Daang Kastila Trail is a walk in the park, a very dusty park, even for a non-hiker like me. The trail, trodden daily by hordes of tourists and horses alike, is extremely worn out. The dust blows up at a mere suggestion of a movement. It gradually wounds up, except for a select few places where the incline is a bit steep. Generally, it is a very manageable one-hour climb that even senior citizens can accomplish.

Taal Volcano Hike Horseback Ride
MIDDLE PART OF THE TRAIL

Taal Volcano Hike View
A VIEW OF BINITIAN MALAKI FROM THE TRAIL

Eventually we emerged from the dust and into a plateau-like area overlooking the lake with sparse grasses and trees sprouting beside the trail. It was here that we realized that we’re actually standing on an active volcano, there were areas where smoke rises out of holes in the ground! The trail wounds on until the final ascent to the Taal Volcano viewing deck.

Taal Volcano Hike Crater View Deck
TAAL CRATER AT LAST. THEY HAVE FOOD STALLS.

The view of Taal’s two-kilometer wide crater, hundreds of feet from the edge of its mouth, was spectacular. You’d think it would be underwhelming and clichĂ©d, but it is absolutely not. The caldera, a huge basin of dark green water, similar to that of Mount Pinatubo, is dotted by a single rock outcrop of an island dubbed as the Vulcan Point. Taal overwhelms the senses—even with vendors hawking drinks right along the ridge.

Taal Volcano Hike Crater View Deck
MAKESHIFT FENCE PROTECTING VISITORS FROM PLUMMETING DOWN

Taal Volcano Hike Crater View Deck
WHY WOULD YOU EVEN WANT TO STAND THERE

The ridge is actually fenced off, which is good, since a fall to its precipice would lead to nothing but a very volcanic death. Kidding, but really, you’ll die; it’s quite a long way down. There’s a wooden platform extending a meter or so into the drop, but it was too scary for me to even try.

Taal Volcano Hike Crater View Deck
TAAL CRATER RIDGE

Taal Volcano Hike Crater View Deck
BEAUTY BORNE OF DESTRUCTION

I read that before the 1911 eruption, Taal Volcano used to have several lakes within the island. Besides the usual green one, it has a red and yellow lake too. I can just imagine how beautiful those were. Still, the one it has now is still quite a sight; such beauty created from destruction.

 

 

Taal Volcano Hike
Address: Volcano Island, Talisay / San Nicolas, Batangas
Boat Jump Off: Resorts along Talisay-Tanauan Road

Jump Off Coordinates: 14.088281, 120.976649
Taal Boat Dock Coordinates: 14.035114, 121.001763
Crater Deck GPS Coordinates: 14.017974, 120.999258

BOOK A TAAL VOLCANO TOUR FROM MANILA






Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Tuesday, September 19, 2017

4 comments:

  1. Are there still buses in Cubao bound to Tagaytay?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anna, as far as I know, there are no more buses going to Tagaytay from Cubao

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  2. Replies
    1. That platform is not for the clumsy nor the faint-hearted! Hahaha

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