Minor Climb No. 1: Taal Crater Lake-Family Hiking Adventure

Instead of a usual dinner date in a restaurant with romantic ambiance and music for our 18th wedding anniversary, I coerced my hubby to climb Taal Volcano and see the famous Crater Lake. He was hesitant at first but later I smiled in delight when he nodded his approval. Meaning it was yes! And because our kids were grown up and physically fit, we enjoined them to embark on this exciting adventure.

As of 2016, boat rental to Taal Crater Lake is now P2,000.00.

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Coming from Pasay City, we reached McDonalds in Tagaytay Junction (in Olivarez) via Aguinaldo Highway in one and a half hour trip. No traffic yet since it was early as 7:00 am. We ate our breakfast and later headed to Ligaya Drive which is few distance away from the famous Picnic Grove. This is where we will meet Angelo, our contact person. He is a boat organizer of Soriano Resort.

Before we turn right to Ligaya Drive, we waived to Angelo who was sitting in his motorbike. We stopped a while and he approached us hastily. He instructed us to follow him and so we went for a convoy. We started our descent, snaking a treacherous road in going down to a resort in Barangay Banga, the jump off point for the boat ride. Travel time was ten minutes only.

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the jump-off point in Soriano Resort

What we paid for

  1. P1,500 for the boat (back and forth) with capacity of four to six persons
  2. P500 for the trail guide which was compulsory
  3. P50/head for the entrance fee

Angelo was so busy that day. After he accommodated us he fetched another set of visitors.

A surge of excitement pulsed through me as soon as we sat on the boat. Sun was hovering into the clear blue sky. What a great day for another adventure with my family!

What You get in Going Places

Going places will not only satisfy your hunger to see and marvel God’s wonderful creations, but you will learn a lot of things. This trip thought us some exciting facts. First thing we learned: Talisay is the gateway to Taal Volcano and not Tagaytay City. We thought it was in Picnic Grove seeing lots of guys holding a signage “boat rental” in the vicinity. There are lots of resorts in Talisay that offer boat rental to the Crater Lake.

Another interesting fact. The most photographed volcano of Tagaytay Lake wasn’t Tagaytay Volcano but another crater, Binintiang Malaki (Big Leg).  I grew up with my Social Studies teachers with this basic fact. Anyway it’s not too late to learn the real thing.  We were amazed as we were passing this small and dormant volcano.

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We’ve learned that the most photographed small volcano in Tagaytay Lake is not Taal Volcano but Binintiang Malaki (Big Leg) 

Taal Lake was so calm thus we had a smooth twenty-two minute boat ride to Volcano Island. Setting foot at Barangay San Isidro, the starting point of the trek thrilled me much. Finally, we were here in Taal Volcano, the second active volcano in the Philippines (Mayon Volcano being the first).  We were approached by locals for a horse ride. But upon hearing the rate from them, P450 for the horse and P500 for the guide, we opted to hike it all by ourselves. Anyway, we have our trail guide Vergel who will lead us the way.

Brgy. San Isidro was a small village with a reception area, horse station, comfort room, sari sari stores and small wooden houses. The island was considered a permanent danger zone by PHILVOCS (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology). We’ve learned that locals are earning their living through fishing, farming and tourism.

The Trails

There are three known trails in getting to the crater lake. Calauit Trail, this will bring you down to the inner lake, Kristy Kenny Trail and the easiest Daang Kastila (Spanish Trail). We were on the third.

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the rate in Barangay San Isidro, the starting point of the hike

The hike

We prepared ourselves for this activity. We were equipped with hats, bottled water, one big umbrella and our SLR for capturing memories. The first few minutes of hiking was a bit easy. It would be much easier walking around if it was not for the scorching heat of the sun.

We were greeted by dust and unpleasant smell of horses’ dung scattered on the trail. But as we set out to the open area, the smell was vanishing bit by bit. We could now see a breathtaking view surrounding the island. The first shed sells soft drinks and buko juice for P50 each. Thirsty, we all bought buko juice.

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At last, after three years, I already wore my hiking pants! It seems I was on a major climb! hahaha!

There were no trees along the way, so it was getting hotter and hotter as we moved along. My hubby was feeling annoyed because he had hypertension. But despite of the heat of the sun, he did not give up. Pao and Shen seemed like they were not getting tired. But in my part, I started to get weary. Maybe this has something to do with my age. Or because, me and my hubby did not spend time doing some body work-out before this activity.

We stopped for a while in the second shed. There were lots of tourists riding on horses, mostly Korean.

From there we hiked the steepest part. Next to Vergel was my hubby and Pao who were leading the way. Shen wasn’t complaining. Her face turned red due to the heat of the sun. She was so curious and asked many questions about the beautiful things perceived by her eyes. It’s good because she learned a lot of things about nature. I hope this activity will teach her to appreciate beautiful things that surround her.

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approaching the steepest part

We passed by steam vents that give off smoke, a sign that Taal Volcano is really active! Vergel warned us not to step on it for it was so hot. The trail to the last shed was steep. I had a hard time catching my breath! Wooh!

When at last we reached the summit we bought cold bottles of mountain dew for we were all so thirsty. Whew! It’s good that there was a store in the area that sells cold refreshments, halo halo (P50), crackers, chips and bread.

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the stunning Lake Crater with the Vulcan Point Island

After few minutes of rest, we set off to the viewing deck to see the famous Crater Lake. We were rewarded of the breathtaking view that lay upon our eyes. It was all our first time to see an island within a lake on an island on a lake in an island! Such a geological wonder to behold.

The caldera of the smallest volcano was indeed stunning to see. It was dark green with white bubbles.

While we were busy taking photos, a girl was also busy doing the same thing with the visitors. Before we left the viewing deck, she offered us a framed 5R picture of our group with a caption of Taal Crater Lake for P300. Quite pricey, but we bought that item to help local tourism.

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at the view deck

Souvenir stores

T-shirts, bracelets, necklace, key chains and display items are available in souvenir stores near the view deck.

Another interesting spot to visit was the Red Lava area, five minutes away from the view deck. I was so eager to go there, but the stifling atmosphere forced us to bid good-bye to the crater.

Going down was so easy. No more catching of breath this time. I appreciated more the view so I took lots of pictures to my heart’s content. As I looked at Mt. Maculot from a distance, I was wishing I could hike there someday. But I have to be sure, I will take a body work out to ease the trek.

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the souvenir area near the viewing deck

For the meantime, I was just so thankful that I experience my first hike with my family. So after all, my body is still willing to do this kind of thrilling activity.

Till next climb!

 

Angelo

Thank you Angelo for this adventure… his contact number – 09197280514

 

Notes:

  1. Boat ride starts at 6:00 am until 4:00 pm only at P2,000 as of 2016 (standard rate).
  2. No overnight stay at Crater Lake.
  3. Bring lots of water, hat, arm warmer, sun block and of course your cam!
  4. Don’t use umbrella if a horse will pass beside you, it will annoy them.

In getting there through Public Transport:

From Manila, board buses to Lian, Nasugbu or Lemery, Batangas. Alight at Tagaytay Rotonda. Ride a jeepney going to Barangay Banga in Talisay via Ligaya Drive and tell the driver to drop you to Soriano Resort – P30/head. You may also take a tricycle ride for P150.

 

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