I always looked at Taal Volcano with fascination. The entire horizon appears to be God's painting that no human can ever recreate. Even the greatest painters who lived on this planet cannot have Taal's skyline as their canvas. But, I always look at it only through the distance. I have not met Taal Volcano up close. The proximity has always been from the Tagaytay Ridge. It is from here that I began to wonder how does its crater really look like?
|Taal Volcano (Photo Taken at Tagaytay Ridge)|
I had the chance of trekking to the top of this volcano as one of the numerous activities offered by Club Balai Isabel. If I remember right, the rent for the boat to Taal that can accommodate at least six (6) persons is Php 2,500.00. After a short boat ride, we reached the island where our hike will start to the volcanoes' crater.
There are two (2) options, one can walk all the way up to the crater or on horseback which at this time cost Php 400.00. According to our guide, we can walk and at any time of conceding, a horse can be brought up, at any stage of the trail, but for the same price.
We then made a short assessment of who is or not capable of trekking all the way to the crater. Age is definitely a factor. The hike is not meant for those with knee issues. Otherwise, it is sensible to be on horseback. Anyone who attempts this trek should have the endurance and determination to complete the climb.
Water is essential! But at this island, bottled water is priced twice as much at Php 50.00. Thus, it is a good idea to bring water from a much cheaper source to hydrate oneself during the entire hike. While this hike is supposed to be completed in a day, there are certain essentials that should be brought during the hike such as sunblock, first-aid kit, and insect repellant.
|Hiking Trail; Structure where Hikers are given a Briefing prior to the Trek; and the Dock at the Taal Volcano|
It is not a short trek! For experienced hikers, however, this is "peanut". But for those who are hiking for the first time, this is very challenging. It is known that numerous hikers who, in the midst of the climb, surrendered to the use of horseback. Keeping up with much-experienced hikers is difficult. Just being forced to walk faster than your natural pace may cause fatigue and injury. Walking unnaturally fast just to keep up with the group is very exhausting!
As we continued our trek to reach the crater, I am thankful that I have done this at this time when I am still physically capable of doing so. I do not like to do the trek on a horseback. I hope that someday I can do this again together with my grandkids.
The greeneries along the way provided a canopy against direct sunlight. While there still enough forest cover, the environmental impact of this activity is evident. I am afraid that a large number of hikers may cause devastating effects on the fragile environment in Taal. I am not sure if the local government imposes a quota on the number of hikers.
I hope that hikers are made aware that their presence would always have an impact on Taal's ecosystem. Good hiking etiquette should be practiced even without the strict enforcement of regulations. Hikers must leave no trace. Hikers must not leave trash and other forms of garbage. We do not want to accidentally destroy the environment in Taal.
We avoided a split in the group between the fast and slow walkers. We would rest for a while to wait for other members of the group. After catching our breath, we would then proceed with the hike.
It was a good idea that we decided to trek the Taal Volcano in the morning. It is risky to hike in the late afternoon and be left out when the sun sets. Starting the hike in the morning ensures every one of ample time to get to the volcano and be back to the hotel when the sun is still shining.
After an almost forty-five (45) minutes of hiking meaning - rest, walk, rest, walk – we finally reached the crater. And everything is worth it! The view is picture perfect. I never regretted taking the trek.
While we all knew that Taal is an active volcano and the temperature of the crater’s lake borders on the extreme, we all wanted to go down and swim. Our guide, however, informed us that swimming in the lake has been prohibited for safety reasons.
To see Taal Volcano up close and be on the rim of its crater is an experience different from the usual. If given the chance, I would attempt another hike.