My Post-Birthday Day Trip to Taal Volcano.


If you ask me what I want to do for my birthday, I would always answer go out of town to either relax on the beach or explore some place I haven't been to before.  But like I said, things were a bit hectic during my birthday week this year and even if T tried to make plans to go out of town, I couldn't give him a definite answer nor could I help out with the planning.  Luckily, my birthday fell on a Friday so I had time to recharge for the weekend.

Obviously, we couldn't go far and could only do a day trip.  So I thought of going to the crater of Taal Volcano in Batangas, which was only a few hours by land.





Since I had no more energy to arrange our trek, I got a package from Taal Lake Yacht Club.  The club is located on the north shore of Taal Lake in Talisay.

Directions to Taal Lake Yacht Club

T and I brought our own car so we took the South Luzon Expressway and went straight onto the STAR Tollway.  We exited at Tanauan and turned right to Talisay/ Laurel.




We traveled for around 20-30 minutes and passed through the town of Talisay. 




Then we drove for around 5 minutes until we saw this sign.




You can actually DIY your Taal Volcano trip but I was worried about where to leave my car.  The only option for parking for DIY trips is the Talisay Public Market and I wasn't too comfortable leaving my car there.  Although a bit more expensive, getting a package from Taal Lake Yacht Club includes parking and the use of its showers and bathrooms.  We just thought of it as paying extra for a secure parking space and a decent place to shower after the trek.




Trail Packages

Tagaytay Yacht Club offers 3 different trail packages to Taal Volcano:

Regular Trail
This is the usual trail that tourists climb.  It goes to the rim of the volcano where a viewing deck is located so you can only look down to see the inner lake with the island inside.  With this option, there is no way to go down.  You don't really need horses on this trail nor a guide since it's an easy walk. 


Boat (up to 5 pax) - P1,900
Guide Fee - FREE
Tourism Fee - P50/person
Landing Fee - P50/boat
Horse - P500/person
TOTAL (for 2 pax) - P3,050 with horses / P2,050 without horses

Kenney Trail
Taal Lake Yacht Club claims to be the pioneer in developing the Ambassador Kenney Trail, which like the Regular Trail, goes to the cliff of the crater rim.   The only difference is that you go through private lands so it's less touristy since there are no other tourists or vendors.  You have to pay extra for the guide fee though.  They say riding a horse through this trail is recommended.

Boat (up to 5 pax) - P1,900
Guide Fee - P350/boat
Tourism Fee - P50/person
Landing Fee - P50/boat
Resort Fee P50/person
Horse - P500/person
TOTAL (for 2 pax) - P3,500 with horses / P2,500 without horses

Secret Trail
Now this is the trail of all trails and not for the faint-hearted.  The Secret Trail is twice as far from the club by water as the Regular Trail or the Kenney Trail.  Plus, it's way more expensive, almost double the price of the regular trail.  This is the only trail which allows you to go down to the inner lake but I do not suggest this unless you really want to swim.  You'll know why as you read along.

Boat (up to 5 pax) - P3,800/boat (walk in rate) or P2,900/boat (prepaid rate)
Guide Fee - P350/boat
Tourism Fee - P50/person
Landing Fee - P50/boat
Resort Fee - FREE
Horse - P750/person

TOTAL (for 2 pax) - P4,900 with horses

Since I'm an adventure-seeker, we took the Secret Trail.  This was a crazy, crazy decision.  It was noon time, the sun was shining its brightest.  Our guide asked us if we really wanted to go in this heat, especially at that time of day.  I don't think they were up for it but I guess they had no choice since I announced it was my birthday ;)


What to Wear and Bring to the Trek

Just my personal list of things:
  • Appropriate clothing (no mini skirts or maxi dresses!)
  • Comfortable footwear (slippers will do but better wear sneakers)
  • Towel (or anything that could shield your face from dust)
  • Sunblock (I got sunburnt!)
  • Bug spray (or you can spray yourself before going on the trek)
  • Water (bring two bottles per person)
  • Snacks (for energy!)
  • Small bag/fanny pack or backpack (don't bring bulky bags)
  • Money (for your guides' drinks and tips)
  • Cap/Hat (to shield your face from the sun)
  • Change of clothes



The Boat Ride

Our guide Manolito took us to a boat named Pawikan (big turtle).  He explained that Taal Lake was actually within a volcano and that the Tagaytay ridge was still part of a volcano.  So confusing as this may be, there is an island within a lake within a volcano within a lake within a volcano.  Inception anyone?







Then he told us that what was usually referred to as Taal Volcano, as seen from Tagaytay, isn't really Taal volcano nor its crater.    The photo below is what's referred to as Taal Volcano in history books, postcards, and even in Katy Perry's music video but no one bothered to correct this mistake of fact.




After a 20-30 minute boat ride, we arrive at the starting point of the Secret Trail.




It is a small village with a few cows and horses all around.  There's also a sari-sari store where you can buy water and food.  Manolito told me to buy eggs since he wanted to show us how hot it is in the inner lake.  The eggs are overpriced at P15 per piece but I got two out of curiosity.




Next to dogs and cats, horses are my favorite.  I used to ride all the time when I was little and I really feel bad whenever I see horses not treated well.  So before riding, I asked my guide if my horse was fed and given water.   When he didn't answer straight up, I told him I'll just walk instead of riding a horse.  But the locals told me we couldn't make it on foot which left me with no choice.

This is me on my horse named Christine before I got attacked by another horse. 




T got a horse named Chino, who kind of went crazy and kicked me thrice while I was on Christine's back.  I have a lot of bruises on my thigh and my pelvic bone.  Yes, my pelvic bone and that hurt like #*%#@$!  Everyone came out of their houses asking if I were okay.  The kicks hurt but fortunately, I am able to balance myself and didn't fall off my horse.  Our guides asked me if I still wanted to continue the trail.  Adrenaline junkie that I am, of course I said yes!


The Trek

In their write up, Taal Lake Yacht Club claims the Secret Trail to be a kid-friendly trail as long as you take the horses.  This is NOT true.  The climb is long and steep and full of rocks.  Even the horses have a hard time traversing this trail.  Imagine balancing on a horse which can't climb up or down. But not riding a horse isn't an option.  Like I said, it's too hard to go on foot on this trail.

This is the beginning (and the easiest) part of the journey, then it becomes difficult from here.






But Taal Lake Yacht Club did get one thing right, the views are spectacular!  While waiting for T, since his horse had a hard time going up the trail and they had to go on foot, my guide took some pictures of me and Christine.  This is the only part of the trail that isn't that steep so it's the perfect photo op stop.







After an hour or so riding up the trail, we are finally at the viewing deck.  It's so beautiful and worth the ride!
 



Just a warning for those taking this trail, there's a man at the viewing deck who will tell you to buy drinks for your guides and will offer you overpriced drinks.  Overpriced as in P50 for a small bottle of Coke!  But I felt bad for our guides who seem to be really tired from the heat of the sun so I got them drinks anyway.  Had we known, T and I would've brought water for them instead of buying from this man who took advantage of the situation.



We thought the hardest part is over and descended to the inner lake.  We were wrong.  Even if I'm used to riding, there are times when I almost fell off my horse while T went on foot for most parts.   And the scarier thing is that we were on a narrow trail on a cliff so if I fall off, I'm likely to roll down on trees and rocks until God knows where.

After 15 minutes, we are finally at the crater!  As you can see, the water is green because of the presence of sulfur.  Although it's supposed to be good for your skin, I don't feel that it's safe to swim in the inner lake of Taal.  The water seemed highly sulfuric compared to Mount Pinatubo (read my blog post about Mount Pinatubo) where I had no qualms about swimming.









Surrounding the lake are volcanic rocks of different colors ranging from gray to white to orange to yellow.
















Unlike Mount Pinatubo, the inner lake smells really, really stinky.  Kind of like curling lotion that went bad.  It's also dangerous to walk around without a guide because of the steam vents that could burn skin at an instant. 







Manolito then guided us to an area so he could show us how hot the water is.. It's hot enough to boil eggs!




And only after a minute or two, the eggs are already cooked!  I gave them to our guides so they will have more energy for the trek back.




As much as I wanted to stay for a while, there are dark clouds forming overhead so I suggested that we head back.   I am a bit more relaxed during this ride since I knew what to expect.  Even my horse Christine is more relaxed as she chowed down cogon grass which happens to be a favorite among horses, according to our guides.  Plus, the view going back is spectacular.  




So would I suggest the Secret Trail?  Yes and no.  Yes, because of the opportunity to go to the inner lake and the adventure that you have to go through to get there.  No, because it's expensive, scary, and... scary.  But I am glad T and I took that trail and had that experience -- from getting kicked by a horse three times to almost falling off and rolling down a cliff.  But seriously, I had fun.  This is just my kind of birthday adventure.  Happy birthday to me! :)



Taal Lake Yacht Club
Trip Date: 24 May 2014

Talisay-Tanauan Road 
(beside Taal Lake)
Barrio Sta. Maria
Talisay, Batangas
Philippines

Tel No.: (043) 773-0192
Mobile No.:  (0928) 678-8849

Official Website
Facebook Page

Look for Sonia Lucero and tell her you heard about her from Joei the birthday girl ;)
Also get Manolito, he's a really good guide.


9 comments

  1. nice! thanks for this post joei! my friends and i have been thinking of a volcano trek actually. this is definitely useful info for us! :)

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  2. It's an easy trek :)
    Their horses are still puny, but it's better to be on one. I could imagine how hot that day must be and it would be very challenging to walk.

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  3. LIZ. Goodluck! Let me know how it goes :)

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  4. RUSS. The REGULAR trail is an easy trek. The one we took (the SECRET trail) isn't. The locals had a hard time doing the trek as well. I don't think we would've finished doing it just on foot.

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  5. Mother! I want to try this too! I mean, I've always known that there are lakes to Taal tour but they never appealed to me until I read your post.

    I love the inception bit haha.



    And aliw how you and T have matching shades!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mother just saw your comment! Wish we can travel again together or kahit day trip lang like our Anilao or Pinatubo ;)

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♥ joei