5 Ways to Explore Taal Volcano

Every adventure seeker and outdoor enthusiasts bucketlist would include an experience to explore an active volcano. Get a chance to tick off yours with these five easy ways to explore Taal - the worlds smallest active volcano on an island on a lake in an island. Confused? Don't put your mind on it, just choose an adventure and go.. 

Taal Volcano is a complex volcano in the heart of Luzon Island. Its last eruption was in 1977 but has consistently shown signs of unrest and have raised alerts several times in the previous years. Despite the looming danger of yet another volcanic eruption, its shoreline is home to thousands of Filipinos. The unique and beautiful volcanic landscape of Taal also attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world. 

Here's how you can explore Taal, five different ways to suit your interest and physical capabilities.

1. Visit PHIVOLCS Taal Volcano Observatory

Taal Volcano is the second most active volcano in the Philippines, next to Mayon Volcano, which is why it is being monitored 24/7 by PHIVOLCS. Get science-y and learn first hand how volcanologists/seismologists monitor volcanoes. The Taal Volcano Observatory is located at the northern shore of Taal Lake in Buco, Talisay, Batangas. Scientists from PHIVOLCS can give a short lecture on volcanoes and Taal's numerous historical eruptions. Just give them a heads-up before coming for a visit so you don't end up disappointed as these scientists are mostly in the field. Contact PHIVOLCS Taal Volcano Observatory at (043)773-0293.

2. Paddle your way around the Crater Lake

Taal Lake is the third largest lake in the Philippines after Laguna de Bay and Lake Lanao. The lake is the volcanic caldera of the ancient Taal supervolcano. The lake expanse is approximately 235 km²  and spans 18km by 25km. Bring personal flotation devices as this lake can go as deep as 100m. Make sure you have your gears waterproofed and attached securely on the kayak. A sudden burst of wind can send you overboard and your phone fast sinking to the bottom of the lake. Also, it's not a bad idea to invest on a floating device for your waterproof camera or GoPro. Get your paddling and steering skills in check as there are bamboo fish enclosures on the lake which you have to dodge around. 

If you are already convinced you have the sense of adventure, stamina and the upper body strength, head to the Taal Lake Conservation Center in Sitio Lipute, Kinalaglagan, Mataas na Kahoy in Batangas. Here you can rent a single or tandem Kayak for Php250 ($6) halfday or Php300 ($8) for the entire day. Pit stops can be made along the lakeshore for snack breaks and lunch. Be prepared to wake up with sore back and shoulder muscles. 

3. Horseback/Hike to Volcano Island

The easiest way to reach the core of Volcano Island is via Daang Kastila, The hike up the crater can be a hot and dusty one via Daang Kastila which takes 45mins to 1.5 hours. Hiking on foot is relatively easy, yet there are options to get to the crater on a horseback. Pack your sunscreen, sunglasses, hat or umbrella, snack and enough water for the hike.  Be aware that although this is the easiest route to the crater, recent volcanic activity has been noted in this area. 

4. Hike up the lava field of Mt. Tagbaro

Southwest of Volcano Island is the last eruption center of Taal volcano, known as Mt. Tagbaro. Hike along the lava fields that spewed from the volcano between 1965-1969. Get a guide familiar with the area, as the trails are not established. If you get a good guide, they might also know locations of fumaroles that exist in the area and may include that in the itinerary.

Hike is between 4 to 5hrs to the crater viewing spot depending on pace and experience as a trekker. Wear long sleeves and light trousers to protect yourself from the sun, rocks and sharp cogon grasses along the trail. Bring enough water or energy drink to last the day trip as dehydration is common especially when the sun becomes too intense. 

5. Hike up Mt. Maculot for a vantage point.

The well known hiking destination among locals - Mt. Maculot offers a beautiful vantage point of Taal Lake. It takes 1 to 2 hrs to get to the campsite, from which you head towards the Rockies for the sought after view of the pristine lakewater and volcano. Be careful with your steps as there have been tragic fall accidents here that claimed the lives of even the most experienced climbers. One thing is certain, the view is spectacular up there and never fails to wow even the seasoned travellers. Mt. Maculot may be dayhiked, but an overnight trip is recommended to get a glimpse of the sunrise at Taal Lake. 

Mt. Maculot is located in Cuenca, Batangas and is easy to reach by public transport. Take a bus to Lemery and get off at Cuenca. From here, take a tricycle to the jump-off, passing by barangay outpost to register and pay hiking fees. There are small food stores at the campsite and if its the climbing season or weekend, there are kids vending buko juice along the trail. Still, bring water for drinking at least enough to reach the campsite and replenish from the store. 

Thats it! Choose any of the five ways to explore Taal Volcano. Better yet, try all of them. 

Interested to see Taal Volcano? Contact me for a personalized itinerary on exploring the worlds' smallest active volcano. 

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