One of my favorite places in the Philippines is Tagaytay. I’ve learned to love its cool temperature, lush green surroundings and more importantly the scenic view of Taal Volcano. Tagaytay gives me an instant break from the city life, without exhausting my energy from the long hours of travel. Tagaytay is about an hour from Manila, not too far yet not so near, to take me away from the noise and stressful atmosphere of the city.
Even though I already stayed at Tagaytay several times, I admit that I haven’t fully explored the place. The picnic grove and the Palace in the Sky were only the two places I have explored. If given the opportunity, I want to visit the Pink Sister’s Convent, Tagaytay Highlands, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and the restaurants and coffee shops that provide a scenic view of the Taal Lake.
In one of the visits I made in Tagaytay with my family, I saw a group of men holding a signage, which reads, Taal Trekking – Php 1,000. As my daddy drove further, I saw more men holding the same signage, trying to get the attention of vehicles that pass by. I got so curious with the idea of having a trip at Taal Lake itself. However, my family would definitely not like that idea. I then said to myself that if I will come back to Tagaytay, trekking Taal would be something that I will work out.
After two years, my dream of trekking Taal Volcano was granted! However, it’s not a Tagaytay trip that made me experience Taal. It’s our company outing in Talisay, Batangas that made me experience two first times in my life, trekking and Taal Volcano.
April 7 and 8, 2010 was the schedule of our company outing at Club Balai Isabel, Batangas. During our briefing and orientation, I learned that one of the amenities offered by the resort is Taal Trekking. The resort charges Php 1,500 for an all expense paid trip to Taal Volcano. This specifically includes the boat ride to Taal Lake and the tourist guide services.
When April 8 came, we were instructed to wake up early because the resort personnel advised us that early morning is the best way to go trekking. Why? The afternoon is also good but we might not be able to resist the intense heat of the sun. Late afternoon to evening is not ideal too because the pathway only depends on the light of the sun.
I woke up early and I was excited even though I was tired of our night swimming. With no breakfast, we went straight for trekking. A motorboat that carries a maximum of 7 passengers transported us at the foot of the Taal Volcano. I enjoyed the motorboat ride though. Since we were traveling on a lake, the water was very calm. I appreciate the view of the lake and the fresh air it brings to me. After approximately a 30 minute boat ride, we were brought to the Tourist Center and were introduced to our tourist guides. This is one minor comment that I want to address to the proper authority in charge of the Taal Trekking. We were given two male tourist guides who obviously smelled under the influence of liquor and cigarettes. In our course of trekking Taal, one of the tourist guides further insisted that he assist one of my female officemates. He held her hands and shoulders, which gave my officemate an uneasy and annoying feeling.
Trekking Taal itself was the biggest challenge one has to conquer if he wants to see Taal Volcano up and close. In order to reach Taal Volcano, one has to walk a steep, narrow and dusty pathway. Tall trees and sharp rocks further surround this pathway, so one has to be really careful. My carelessness by the way gave me small wounds and bruises on my feet. Apart from my carelessness, the fact that we don’t wear hiking shoes gave us extra challenge in trekking. I was wearing my Havaianas and what should I expect. On the positive side, I have to thank my Havaianas for not leaving me during my trek. By the way, my Havaianas is still alive today!
If you want to reach Taal without the hassle of walking, a horse ride is one alternative. A horse ride could transport you back and forth Taal and the Tourist Center for Php 400 (around $8). When I reached the top of Taal Volcano, it was truly a dream come true! Seeing the crater of Taal Volcano up close, proves that a long, perspiring and risky walk was definitely a worth sacrifice.
After viewing and resting on the magnificent Taal, we took pictures and went down the long winding, steep, and dusty pathway for the second time. Though seriously, going down was easier and faster. A boat ride to Club Balai Isabel, took a quick bath, pack up our things and back to Manila, back to normal life. My officemates were complaining because they suffered extreme leg pains. Luckily for me, I did not experience any leg pains. I’m used to walking and climbing the high stairs of the LRT! In fact, when we arrived in Intramuros, I still managed to take the LRT with no elevators or escalators. Yahoo, no signs of aging!!!
I was thankful of the opportunity of trekking Taal Volcano. In fact I am willing to repeat this experience with my other friends. However, with the recent condition of Taal, it might take me years to experience it again. It’s recently showing signs of irregular activity according to news. I’ll repeat this experience when Taal is safe and inactive and my age and legs still permit me to trek!