Guest blog by: Hanna Sobczuk
Most people who come to Manila stay here one or two days and head off to other islands. However, if you decide to explore some surrounding area of the Philippines capital city, we recommend you to visit Tagaytay and Taal volcano, the smallest active volcano in the world.
Some people laugh and call Taal an inception, just like the movie with DiCaprio. It is because of the lake around the volcano as well as inside the crater. I mean, if you look at the map you’ll see the Pacific Ocean with Luzon Island, then a Taal lake in Luzon, a Taal Island in the Taal Lake and a lake in the crater. Ocean – island – lake – island – lake. Inception, right?
What is more, Taal is the smallest still active volcano in the world as it’s highest elevation is only 311 m (1,020 ft). The last eruption took place in 1977 but the last biggest one was over a hundred years ago, in 1911. Citizens in Manila, which is about 60 km away from Taal, felt the seismic activity of the volcano that caused earthquakes and heard the eruption, which first they mistook by a loud thunder. The ashes of that eruption fell down in the area of 2000 km in diameter around Taal.
Even if the volcano has been quiet since 1977, it is still active and has shown signs of unrest since 1991, like for instance seismic activity and formation of mud pots and mud geysers. However, the trip to Taal volcano is safe and scientists watch over the volcano’s activity.
How they can say that it’s dangerous to visit the volcano as it may erupt? For example when the frequency of volcanic quakes increase and temperature and level of the water in the crater lakes changes. As an addition you can smell strong sulfuric odor (similar to rotter eggs) and see killed fish in the water and drying up vegetations. There are more signals but so far it is still safe to visit the Taal volcano. 😉
Despite it is officially forbidden to live in the island, some local families decided to settle there earning a living by fishing, farming crops and serving the tourists offering horse ride up to the crater.
Of course, riding a horse is not the only option. You can still walk but make sure you take food and planty of water with you, something to cover from sun (or rainproof!) and wear comfortable close shoes. The walk should take you approx. 45 minutes but in a nice sunny day it can be really exhausting as there is almost no shade on the way, the sun burns and the heat of the volcano makes it even worse. In rainy day it’s not better because the road up to the volcano is covered with slippery mud… But any day you take your trip – be prepared even if the hike is not that long.
On the way up you’ll see exposed sulfur. It’s easy to see it as it is yellow and steams. Watch out, it’s hot! Around the crater you can see more steaming places and even one where you can see magma.
Some people even try to swim in the crater lake, despite the scientists don’t recommend that. If you decide to do it, be really careful as the toxic gases may be very dangerous especially further from the shore!
A daytrip to Tagaytay and Taal volcano is a good idea if you want to explore surroundings of Manila and / or you are already tired of the city. It’s great option to spend some time with friends or people met in Z Hostel! 😉
How to get to Tagaytay from Z Hostel? Depends if you are alone or with friends, there are 2 options: – using public transport from Manila – just make sure you leave early to avoid the traffic! – share a taxi. Grab taxi one way to Tagaytay costs 1000 pesos but if you want the driver to wait for you whole day and take a highway you should count more. The day price depends on what you negotiate with the driver. It’s good to have some friends with you to share the costs!
To get to the Taal volcano you need to go to Tagaytay and rent a boat that will take you to the island. It can be a bit expensive so you should haggle. Going with friends can help you share and save some costs!
Check out more of Hanna’s travel experiences at http://hannatravels.com