The Trek Up Taal Volcano
We did it again, another trek, up another hill, in the sizzling sunshine. And again, I felt like I was going to faint. ‘I am so unfit’. I am quoting myself, from my post on Na Muang Waterfalls, Koh Samui. This time, it was a volcano we trekked, named Taal, in the little town of Tagaytay, Philippines. The trek was strenuous, but what a sensational view there was to greet us at the top.
Taal Volcano, known as the Lake-Land Inception (as there is the mainland, then a lake, then land, then a lake, then land again) was absolutely stunning. The smallest, active volcano in the world showed only minimal signs of activity. Coming up from the volcano were spits of sulphur, giving hints of the commotion below. Other than that, the place was calming, peaceful, almost lagoon-like. From the view at the top you can see a perfectly still, shimmering, green lake, resting in the volcano crater. Beyond the volcano lies Main Crater Lake, surrounded by resting, sleepy hills. We paid an extra 50 peso (80p) each to reach a higher point (which was also pretty unsafe – no fences to stop you falling from a very narrow and very steep path). The new vantage point was 100% worth it. Less tourists, no barriers, just you and the beautiful volcano. Bliss.
How to get to Taal Volcano from Manila? Well, we took it slow and gave ourselves 2 nights in Tagaytay, but you can do the volcano trip in one day if you wish. First, we got a coach from Taft station, Manila. We were unsure where to go and which coach to get on, there were tons of bus companies in the area. We just popped our heads into one of the companies and the staff there pointed us in the right direction. After 2 hours on the coach, costing 83 peso each (£1.30), we arrived into the small town of Tagaytay. There is one main road (Tagaytay-Talisay) down to the lake that houses the volcano. At the top of this you will find multiple tricycle drivers waiting to take you down the winding road. This should cost somewhere between 100-200 peso each way (150 peso = £2.35), depending on your haggling skills.
After 20 minutes of meandering downhill, you will reach the lake. Here, you can hire a boat to take you across to the volcano. We paid 1700 peso which is around £26.50 (haggled down from 2200 peso) for the hire of the boat and entry to the volcano. Note: when the boat docks there is a docking fee of 50 peso. Both the boat driver and our tricycle driver waited for us to take us back. We spent a couple of hours at the lake, so you could head back into Tagaytay and catch a coach to Manila the same day. All-in-all the cost of the trip came to a total of around £70, when looking at an organised tour it will cost around £70 each!
So, back to why I am unfit. It all started well, with enthusiasm we hit the very dusty track named Daang Kastila, which is supposed to be the easiest route up Taal. Our walk was constantly interrupted by ponies. You can hire a pony to ride up the hill but we wouldn’t advise that, those poor ponies carried some pretty large tourists in the burning sun. Herds would pass at regular intervals, kicking up all the dry, dirty dust on the ground. I used a sarong as a mask-come-shoulder cover as even my dark skin was feeling the burn.
It wasn’t until we reached the steepest part of the hill, the last stretch before you reach the ridge of the volcano that I had a wobble. Before this, there were regular spots of shade where we stopped for a water top up. ‘There’s no shade here now so we need to motor through to not be in the sun for too long.’ Wise words Pete. My motoring lasted all of 30 seconds. Legs heavy. Sweat dripping. My heart was thumping like the drums of war (that’s a Pocahontas quote for all you fellow Disney fans). I felt weak. But I had been here before, back in Koh Samui, Thailand. I knew I could make it, just one foot in front of the other and keep breathing. There was promise of a Sprite when I reached the top. By the time we did, and that Sprite was popped, my hands were physically shaking. But don’t worry Mum, Pete looked after me, I’m ok now!
PS: Here is the aftermath of that dusty track: