TAAL: VOLCANO CRATER TREK

I have quite a list of the things I didn’t like about going on a trek to the crater of Taal Volcano.  Topping that list would be — I don’t think I’d last walking for a long distance… I’m scared of riding a horse… and I’ve never been fond of getting on boats… and not to forget that Taal is an active volcano.  There were quite a few more I discovered but that would be preempting the whole point of this entry.

As we passed through Tagaytay, we saw several persons holding up signs that offer boat rides and tours to Taal Volcano.  The prices vary from P1,300.00 to P1,500.00 for a small boat that could accommodate five persons… since there for seven of us, most of them said that it was ok.  May life vest naman daw.  That’s reassuring.

We decided to check our reservations first at Balai Isabel in Talisay before doing the trek.  We inquired from the guard stationed at the gate where we may find boats that could take us to the volcano.  He told us that the owner of the house right across the street offers tours.  At past ten o’clock in the morning, we were able to haggle the price from P2,500.00 for the boat trip across the lake  to P250.00 per person or P1,750.00 for the seven of us.

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A kilometer or so from the resort, we found ourselves a boat and boat man.  We had to write our names and age (walang madedeny ng edad) on the passenger manifest and pay the rental fee.  I’m not sure if there was an orientation prior to boarding since I was busy taking photos by the shore.  All I noticed is they were selling stuff like wide rim hats, bottled water, food, etc., which they said cost double when we get to the other side.

Boarding the boat wasn’t that difficult.  They used what looked like long metal benches, which were wide enough to walk on.  What a relief.  We can see the volcano from the shore… so I was guessing, the boat ride wouldn’t take that long.  It was an uneventful ride going to the volcano island except for the water splashing on us from one side.  It wasn’t enough to get us all drenched but just the same, I placed my camera, cellphone and wallet in a plastic bag to be sure… so I wasn’t able to take photos.  After 20 minutes, we got to Barangay Look, the starting point of the trek.

Before even getting off the boat, a lot of locals will persistently offer services and wares, which they all claim needed for the climb.  My only concern at this point was getting off the boat without falling into the water.  The shore was lined with boats that continuously cross the lake to transport both locals and tourist to the island, as well as to bring in goods.  It was a clear day with very few clouds hovering in the sky.  The mid day sun was almost at its highest now.  I was still hoping one of my companions would decide not to climb up the crater.  I would be happy to stay behind and take photos along the shore.  But everyone seemed to be resolved in doing this.

For P500.00, you can rent a horse with a guide to go up the crater.  As for us, we decided to go on foot.  We were assigned a very young guide named Deither who kept reminding us not to keep talking in order for us to conserve energy and not to run out of breath.  I didn’t have much problem with that since I always fell behind, I had no one to talk to most of the time… but I still ran out of breath.  The trail wasn’t really steep for most parts… but it was heavily eroded and since it was used by the horses as well, this causes heavy.   Watch out for the horse dung along the trail, which accounts for the stench that greets you at the start of the trek.  There will be more vendors as you climb who sold bottled water, soda, surgical masks and wide rimmed hats.  It could really get dusty especially if the horses walk past you, but I found it hard breath even more if I cover my nose and mouth.

I couldn’t count the stops I made.  But my friends would wait in a distant turn or so.  After making about three fourths of climb, Doc decided to stay behind.  From where we stood, I could see the last stretch of the climb.  It looked really steep.  I could barely feel my legs, but it was so near… at sayang ang pagod.  Besides there would be a lot of photo opportunity upon reaching the top.  Adik kasi!

Good thing, Ate Beng stayed behind with me.  She talked me through as we got near the crater and the climb got steeper.  Upon reaching the viewing deck, we were once again greeted by the smell of horses.  We rendezvoused with our friends who were waiting under make-shift sheds near edge of the crater.  There were a lot of tourist that it was hard to walk around. 1501119_10152112741479806_327782513_o

Because I didn’t bring water with me (I only brought my camera and whatever could fit in my pockets), Ate Beng and I finished what was left of Mommy Myra’s water.  There were also vendors who sold drinks — soda, bottled water, fresh coconut juice, etc.  For P50.00, I got a bottle of iced cold Mountain Dew… probably the best tasting Mountain Dew I ever had.  Parang yung sa commercial.

The view was spectacular but I wasn’t able to take a lot of shots for I was still trying to feel my legs and catch my breath.

I’m not sure how long we stayed on the view deck, for I wasn’t all that rested yet when we started the descent from the crater.  After a few meters, I lost my footing and slipped.  Leezl and Lani told me to stay close to them so I can trace their steps.  A few more distance, Lani tripped on a rock but she was able to walk it off.  While trying to navigate the steeper parts of the trail, I again fell.  This time, I couldn’t get up… much less walk.  My camera though, had no scratch better whatsoever.

Luckily, our cellphones had signals and we were able to contact our other companions who were ahead.  They came back with Diether, our guide and helped me to a nearby hut to wait for horses to pick us up.  Lani also decided to ride back since her foot also started to bother her.  So much for my fear of riding a horse… I didn’t have much choice this time.  Got back to the base of the volcano without any further incident.

Just had to walk a few more meters to where our boat was.  I eventually figured out how to get on and off the boat with my bum foot.

I still can’t decide whether the view was worth all the trouble — the dust, the heat, the pain… especially the pain.  I’m still feeling it on my right leg! But if there’s anything that was worth all that (all my hate list: horse ride, boat ride, trekking, long walks under the sun)… it was knowing that I could count on my friends after my ankle gave up… and who continued to take care of me during the rest of our trip even if I slowed all of them down.

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