A tiny active volcano on an island within a lake within an island.
In one of the typically hottest months of the year in the Philippines, my friends and I went to Taal Volcano, a popular tourist attraction about 60 kilometers south of Metro Manila. Taal Volcano is described as a complex volcanic system and many are fascinated by it. The small volcanic island (called Taal Island or Volcano Island) has its own crater lake and sits within a lake-filled complex caldera (a larger crater).
After about a two-hour morning drive we arrived at the Taal Yacht Club and there we hired boats to take us to the volcano island. The water was calm and we arrived at the island excited to start the short trek to the crater viewing deck.
We were greeted by merchants selling wide brimmed straw hats for shade and face masks to protect us from the dust. Horse handlers offered horse rides for tourists who prefer not to walk. I didn’t buy a hat or a face mask but later I realized I should have because the trail is very hot and dusty. I chose to walk, too, because I wanted to be able to stop and take pictures anytime, unhampered by a horse.
Our guides led us through the regular tourist trail which takes us only up to the viewing deck where we could take pictures of the crater lake. It’s about a 45-minute walk that is generally effortless in most parts but there are some areas where the trail is very steep and people who are not used to strenuous activity would find the climb arduous.
The scant shade and dusty trail are harsh but the view is quite nice. In some places I saw steam coming out of the ground. There are plenty of cows and horses along the way and I found them to be good photographic subjects. At the viewing deck we enjoyed the shaded benches where we could rest. Snacks and drinks are available for sale there but we brought our own because we didn’t want to buy the overpriced food and drinks. The crater lake is beautiful and I was able to get a good shot of it using my Horizon camera.
Adventurous people with more time to spare could choose alternative trails that lead to the crater lake itself. I might do that one day. I think it would be great to get closer. The volcano is still active and there have been occasions in recent years when alerts have been raised due to volcanic earthquakes. Residents have to be evacuated when it’s dangerous for them to stay on the volcano island, or even on other towns nearby.
The water was rough as we returned to the yacht club and we got very wet on the boat. After a hot and dusty trek we all wanted to take a shower anyway. But we had a lot of fun.
Here are some of my photos from our trip.
For more information about Taal Volcano, and to see aerial and satellite images, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taal_Volcano.
For Taal Volcano tour information, go to http://www.sailing.org.ph/tlyc/volctrip.html.