Saturday, October 2, 2010

Conquering Taal Volcano via Taal Lake Yatch Club

We were supposed to go rafting in Pagsanjan one Saturday of December. But it rained in the morning. We were told that since the water level is high and the flow of water is quite strong, the rafting would only reach the first falls instead of the last one which was the one with the majestic sight. So Jener and I decided to just come back again next time.

Instead of going back to Manila though, we decided to head off to Taal Lake and conquer Tall Volcano. We opted not to drive back all the way to Sta. Rosa and take the Tagaytay road. We took the road from Calamba, Laguna to Sto.Tomas, Batangas intead. It was the first time for us to take that road. I had a map with me, but the scale I guess was not that good. We were nervous if we were really on the right direction. Hence, we stopped twice on the road to ask for directions. Luckily, the two people we have asked were kind enough to give us the right directions.

Since we didn’t pass by Tagaytay, we were saved from aggressive people flagging down tourist offering tours to Taal. Good thing I have save the contact number of Taal Lake Yatch Club. I called them on the road, and we were happy to know that they can still accommodate us even with such short notice. However, they told us to hurry though since there is a curfew hour for tourist in the in the island. Finally, after more than an hour drive, we saw the entrance sign of Taal Lake Yatch Club. We couldn’t be any happier!

We have chosen Taal Lake Yatch Club since we have read good reviews about them, and also due to security reason. We just don’t want to get services from random person offering their tours on the road. Upon entering Taal Lake Yatch Club, I personally like how the area was filled with trees. I love green. The tour to the Taal crater would costs as 1,800 pesos good for 6 people. That already includes the boat ride across the lake, the guide fee, and the entrance fee and barangay fee on the island. They said our guide would be the one to pay the entrance and barangay fee for us to avoid the hassle of going to the registration area. We were surprised with the price. That would be 300 pesos each. Wow. Too bad there were only two of us. Haha! But anyway, we still availed of the tour. They asked us if we would like to ride on a horse going up to the crater for an extra pay of 500 pesos each. And since we haven’t ridden a horse our entire life, we grab the offer. That was a total of 2,800 pesos. Note that this trip was taken last 2009, so prices may have changed by now.

The one on the right is the Fake Volcano...yup, FAKE!
The ride from the mainland to the island took about 30 minutes. Thankfully, the weather was cloudy, a good time to hike….errr, go horse riding. Now, to our amazement, we didn’t go to the direction of what we thought was the crater of the volcano (on the right side of the picture above) Our boatman said that people thought that was Taal Volcano. Even postcards and other travel photos would show it to be Tall Volcano. Actually, they call it the Fake Volcano, and the real one is situated on the bigger island on the left side. Now, that’s some good information.

Upon nearing the island, we saw houses signifying that some people choose to live at the foot of the volcano. I admire them, being the protectors of this island volcano, but I also am worried for their safety.

With Patricia (the horse)
Upon arriving, the boatman introduced as to our horseback riding guides, and the horses, Gina and Patricia. My horse, Patricia, was still young and small. Good thing I was so underweight at that time. But if you plan to go horseback riding in Taal, please choose a horse proportionate to your weight, if you can. At first we were scared if the horse would just run ahead or throw as away, but Gina and Patricia appeared calm. So, off we went.

There were a lot of tourists that day, mostly already going down the hill as it was almost 4:00 PM. If you would be walking here or riding horse, I suggest you bring a hanky as the road would be dusty. The last stretch of the trail was steeper; it was hard to maneuver the horse. But with our guides’ help, we made it to the top! It was worth it!

the steep part of the trail

And the view was worth it. Makes you appreciate nature more.

the Crater Lake with Vulcan Point, the small istel on the lake

gas emitting, they said it's just normal
We wished we could go down there like Kuya Kim!

There are nipa huts were visitors could take some rest and enjoy the view. Local vendors are selling refreshments, of course with a hefty price. The funny thing was that the vendors sort of commanded us to buy drink for our two guides loudly. So we didn’t have a choice but buy some drinks for us and our two guides. We stayed for a couple of minutes, enjoying the view. If we could have come earlier, perhaps we could have stayed longer. It was time to start our descent though at 5:00 PM, since no visitors are allowed by night fall. Thankfully, the ride back was much easier. We met our boatman back at the village and give “Thank you” tips to our kind guides.

Back at the yatch club, we used their shower facilities, which was free for their guests, by the way. Before the sun was about the set, we were on our way back to Manila, this time, taking the Talisay-Tagaytay road. It was an uphill drive, and we were able to get a good view of Taal Volcano, the first volcano we have conquered!

For more information of Taal Lake Yatch Club, and the directions on how to get there, visit their website. I highly recommend them. Bring a lot of friends if you are on a budget to share the expenses, and lots of water/drinks to avoid buying pricey refreshments on the site.

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