PSX_20170921_124418A crater lake on a volcano on an island within a lake within an island seems like a mindboggling idea. But did you know that such a place actually exists?PSX_20170922_122437Taal Volcano is one of the world’s smallest active volcanoes and the second most active volcano in the Philippines. It has had 33 recorded eruptions, the last one being in 1977.

Take Off Point
While actually located in Batangas province, Taal Volcano and its surrounding Taal Lake is more commonly viewed and accessed via Cavite province, particularly Tagaytay City—one of the most popular local getaways near Manila.

I have been to Tagaytay once, and just like most tourists, I have happily admired the majesty of Taal Volcano from afar. I soon included a closer encounter (a.k.a. a hike to its crater) in my bucket list, so when Tia, one of my best friends, came to visit, I jumped at the chance to tick that item off.

Marsman Drysdale Travel Company offered us a reasonable all-inclusive package which included transportation to and from Tagaytay, a one-night stay at Taal Vista Hotel, and the Taal Lake trekking tour.

Taal Vista has one of the best views of the volcano, so even if you’re not planning to stay there, at least swing by for a drink, walk around the garden, and snap lots of Insta-worthy photos.PSX_20170922_124044We arrived in Tagaytay a day before our scheduled hike and spent the afternoon lounging around the hotel. We enjoyed Tagaytay’s cooler weather (as compared to Manila’s) we marveled at the beauty of Taal from the garden. We had too many sangrias and danced all night long the previous night, so the fresh air and the good night’s sleep that followed were definite must-haves.PSX_20170922_125316PSX_20170922_125101PSX_20170922_124419

Going Up
Dexter, our driver, arrived punctually the following morning. We set out for our tour after breakfast, driving to Talisay Bay, where we took a boat to the island. The road to Talisay is quite narrow and steep but oh-so-scenic and absolutely stunning to drive through.PSX_20170922_123451

At Talisay Bay, we met Jojo, our boat driver and guide. Before we hopped aboard the boat, we had to sign a waiver that stated that in case we fell into the the waters and got eaten by crocodiles, they won’t be responsible. Kidding aside, there were no crocodiles and even if there were, Jojo assured us that they were strictly vegeterians. Jojo is outgoing, friendly, has a good sense of humor. He was knowledgeable about the area and, most importantly, considerate when it came to trekking. He kept a good pace and we took time to rest and rehydrate whenever it felt necessary. It took us 30 minutes to get to the top and there it was, the awe-inspiring Taal Volcano.PSX_20170921_130718PSX_20170922_123227PSX_20170922_122753PSX_20170922_122634We spent some time taking in every inch of the tiny vulcan point island that sits inside the crater lake, which sits inside the Taal Volcano, which is inside Taal Lake. This mind-spinning setup is what makes Taal Volcano and Taal Lake strikingly beautiful.PSX_20170922_122116

The Way Down
After what I would call an enchanting experience, we hit the trails again. Our way down was much easier, with less panting. In no time, we were on our boat again and back to Talisay Bay. We got back to Taal Vista just in time to freshen up, pack our bags and head back to Manila.PSX_20170922_122544PSX_20170922_121928PSX_20170921_131134And just like that, our quick—but definitely memorable—getaway had come to an end.

What To Bring
In case you’re interested to conquer Taal Volcano and Taal Lake, I suggest having these essentials with you:

  • Proper hiking shoes and comfortable clothing
  • Surgical masks to cover your mouth and nose (it can get dusty due to volcanic ashes)
  • Hat and sun protection (trust me, you’ll need them)
  • Water to keep yourself hydrated

And finally, to make the trip a complete success, don’t forget to bring (and to be) good company. Have a happy hike!PSX_20170921_161759PSX_20170922_121132


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