My trip to Taal Volcano on December 29, 2008 was THE trip that gave birth to The Lakwatsero and my many adventures that were to follow.

For this weekend, my original plan was to go to Donsol which became a Skydiving adventure… which also didn’t push through. So on Friday I decided to go back to Taal Volcano. Why go back? A few nights earlier I saw a travel show on TV (I don’t recall the show or the channel so don’t ask). In the feature the female host talked about being able to cook an egg while in the crater of Taal.

The show made me recall that during the first trip, I remember seeing down to people who went to the water in the crater. I remember asking our guide who said that it was possible. What he didn’t quite explain was how and where to go. Anyway… it was decided… BACK TO TAAL I go!

Taal Volcano with a view of crater lake

What was to follow was a different experience from the first, and I was very happy with this Lakwatsa.

In times of instant travel plans, I usually tag along Patrick Mineses aka “Kaladkarin”. For Southern trips, I pass for him at the McDonald’s at Alabang Town Center. Meeting time… 7:00am.

View Taal Volcano in a larger map

After picking him up, we were on our way to Tagaytay. We got to Tagaytay at around 8:30am and I proceeded to road which goes down to Taal Lake. As we passed half way… just as before we picked up a tour guide from a tourist look out point. He parked the car, then boarded the boat… and we were off!

On the boat to Taal

En route to the island/volcano I mentioned to our boat guy that I had already been to the peak and that this time I wanted to go inside. That’s when he told us that we needed to go to the back of the island… not the “front” (I refer to the front that area nearest to Tagaytay). He said that on the other side, were was another station to dock and there are also horses there. It is of course farther, and costs more (P3,500 instead of P1,500). Pat and I looked at each other for a moment and agreed.

Fake Taal

We passed that little volcano which most people who look at Taal from Tagaytay assume is the actual Taal Volcano. Well… no. It is part of Taal… but is not the main volcano… it is, a mini-volcano. Not sure what the right term is, maybe it’s a huge vent?

TaalCrater20100313 019

We had to make a quick stop at the original drop off point to get gas. Yes… gas. I didn’t get it myself. So don’t ask. We then proceeded to the back.

What happened next was quite a pleasant surprise. Between the towns, we got to see another source of income… fish pens. I found it fascinating.

TaalCrater20100313 026

En route we saw these small habited islands.

TaalCrater20100313 046

Upon “landing” we were planning on make the trek by foot. But it was hot. Very hot. So we decided to take horses instead. Only costing P900 each, it was good that we did take the horses.

In retrospect, I was glad that we took the horses. Some might thing its corney and that they should just attempt to make the climb themselves. But the horse ride itself was quite fun. After all, how often does one get to ride one. Of course if you never rode a horse it could be a little disconcerting at first. But in the end, its fun and all worth it.

Taking the horses up.

When we get to the top, we actually reached the rim of the volcano. We rook a short stop at the top to let the horses and guides rest. There are some vendors that were there selling bottled water and soft drinks … tourist trap alert, a bottle of Pepsi at the town below would cost P15, up there it cost P50/each. But still, when you are thirsty… what’s 50 bucks?

Anyway, we went around and took a few pictures till our guide called us.

TaalCrater20100313 068

TaalCrater20100313 066

We then got back on our horses, then proceeded down to the water level. Going down was a little cooler as the foliage provided some cover.

Going down

almost there!

We got down. A sight more reminiscent of Mt. Pinatubo. BREATHTAKING!

TaalCrater20100313 072

But I must say… it seemed to me… nicer and more majestic than Mt. Pinatubo.

TaalCrater20100313 076

What was fascinating about Taal was that it isn’t as “dead” as a I thought. Patrick went down to the water and… it was hot!

TaalCrater20100313 070

TaalCrater20100313 093

We walked around to a spot with lots of steam vents.

TaalCrater20100313 081

The area was full of these steam vents. And the vapors smelled of sulfur… of course. And it was hot… full of boiling water. Of course it was nice walking around exploring all of these. If this was in the US… you wouldn’t get to do this. There would probably all of these safety precautions preventing tourists from walking up to these places. Good thing this isn’t the US with their over safety-conscious officials.

TaalCrater20100313 080

TaalCrater20100313 110

I decided to take out my Flip Cam (which I always forget I have on me) and do a video channeling my inner Sir Richard Attenborough. Hehe… NatGeo I am not. So here it is…

You can’t see it in this picture below but up near the center is the lookout point had you come up from the “front”. I must say it was good that I went up there the first time. This trip was so much better putting the first trip to shame.

TaalCrater20100313 090

I said earlier that Taal seemed more than Pinatubo. I had done Taal last year (just went up to the rim I mentioned above) and did the trek to Pinatubo twice last year. I guess its a toss up. The Pinatubo trek is always great. And if you ever get to do the sky tour to Pinatubo, I highly recommend it. But I guess there were a lot of great moments during this trip to Taal… the steam vents, the boiling muck made it really interesting. The weather was great. The sky was fantastic!

A final plus is that, from Manila, Taal is nearer and easier to get to.

TaalCrater20100313 103

TaalCrater20100313 099

By around 11:30… we decided to head back to Tagaytay. It was getting real hot and of course we were hungry. We rode on the horses and we were off. At lunch in Tagaytay and I was back home in Quezon City by 2pm.

TaalCrater20100313 088

All in all… a great trip! A good lakwatsa ! I highly recommend trying this out!!!