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I have always admired Taal Volcano from a distance--either from the popular restaurants that line up the ridge of Tagaytay City or from the dilapidated Palace in the Sky. I often marveled at the spectacular view right before my eyes--that not even my 300mm can fully capture its beauty from afar. I made a promise to myself, I should get to the volcano island at least once in my lifetime.
This dream came true when, in the course of performing my job, I had to set foot on the volcano. And needless to say, it was my first time be on one of the most active active volcanoes in the Philippines that is the Taal Volcano.
Getting there, however, has proven to be more difficult that I thought. We decided to hike instead of riding a horse--at 1 o'clock in the afternoon--a decision from two Louisians, who left Baguio more than 20 years ago, and who thought they could use their daily fare of climbing up the Msgr. Charles Vath Library Building (the tallest building that sits on the highest part of the campus) to good use.
Not as lean and strong as we were, we found ourselves panting under the mid-day sun, and it was hot--literally. So I asked our guide, who walked past us and treaded the winding path like a stroll in the park, what part of the volcano we were heading. He pointed, "Dun!" (There). Mind you, he treated "there" like any mom and pop store in the street corner! And I just interjected, "Ahhh, there!" while mixing the formula variables in my head:
"elevation x distance x age x time x temperature x the 10 kilo camera backpack with gears = there"
|The tree in the middle is the "THERE"|
Goodness! it would take us another two hours to get there considering the many stops we have to make! Now laugh your heart out!
|Horses, at last!|
Then the mango trees 100 meters ahead! It was like an oasis for me! At this point, I still am quite hopeful and determined to get to the top by hiking, but then I was regretting we had to turn down two boys who earlier offered a horse ride. We should have given in, we thought. Then all of a sudden--like an answered prayer--the two boys holding their horses with their reins came from behind! They must have fully calculated and foretold that these two almost-middle-aged-men-pretending-to-be-stronger-than-their-sons will never make it to the top at this time of the day.
I would have declined the second offer, but I had to swallow my pride. I just have to give in--while reasoning out we would have made it to the top if the hike were done early in the morning, but I am sure, Manong guide must have been smirking behind us--for pretending!
So we got on the horses' backs. While riding the horse, I noted the thick bushes and tall grasses along the way. I asked if there were snakes along the barely cleaned up track. The guide told us there are snakes, and some of their horses were already bitten by cobras. Uh-oh! That is another danger sign! But he assured us there are no snakes around since it has been cleared and perhaps the snakes would have scampered. It would be more dangerous if our horses would be bitten by a snake because of the danger that it would scamper away and would send us rolling down the hill. This is not to mention the foal that keeps on playing with his mother (my horse), that poses danger to us.
Be that as it may we reached "there" after 15 minutes on a horseback.
It would have been quite an experience if we had to hike to see the beauty of the volcano and its surroundings, but then fate has it that we have to accept our limitations as we also needed to go back to by 3 PM before the waves on the lake would grow bigger.
|An obligatory touristy shot.|
|The island in the middle of the inner lake.|
|A spectacular view of Mt Maculot.|
|The clear portion of the mouth of the volcano on the right is the touristy spot.|
|A panorama of the view deck on top.|
I am not quite into hiking and mountain trekking. That is the reason why reaching the mouth of the volcano is one of the most exhilarating traveling experience I have had so far. At least I have done it not the touristy way.
We have reached this side of the volcano from Barangay Calawit, Taal Volcano Island. Jump off point was at : Pusod TLCC in Sitio Lipute, Barangay Kilaglagan, Mataasnakahoy, Batangas. For eco-tourism tours, contact Pusod, Inc.
More photos after the JUMP.
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