Saturday, 3 March 2012

Trek to Taal, the worlds smallest volcano

Through the years, I've always thought that the iconic photo of Taal is the active volcano.
iconic shot of Taal (right side) 
Well, it is not. The whole island (refer to map below) covers an area of 23 square km and is the volcano complex. Our guide said that there are seven craters on the island- two of which are active. However, I googled and found out that Taal actually has "about 47 craters or depresions formed either by direct explosive eruptions or by collapse or ground subsience."  Interestingly, Taal is considered the world's lowest volcano with the highest point at 311m above sea level compared to Mayon volcano's elevation at 2,463m.

Taal Volcano, map by Philvocs
with Gai and Moni at the jump off point in Taal Yacht Club
The three of us - Gai, Austrian healer Moni Platt and I hiked to the main crater.  Moni said that she tried to climb the volcano last April but due to eruption warnings, she wasn't allowed up. So  far, there has been 33 recorded eruptions since 1572, twelve of which occured at the main crater from 1749 to 1911. The 1911 eruption devasted the whole island and claimed a total of 1,034 lives. The last eruption was on October 3, 1977.

The whole trip to the main crater and lake will take half a day - about an hour from Manila to Talisay, Batangas, then a 30min banca ride (right photo) to Volcano Island, an hour on foot to the Main Crater and back.

If you want a faster option to go up, go ride a horse (left photo) which looks more like a pony though at P500 per horse.

Warning to hikers: go early.  The whole island is volcanic and thus, the ground is hot! There is an area where you can see steam coming out of the ground and smell sulfurous. Also, check Philvocs website for volcano activity. The alert level "1" is still acceptable to hike to the crater.

Aside from the regular touristy trail, there are other ways to explore the island such as the Calauit Trail and for the more experienced hikers, the Mt. Tabaro Trail (south-west).
Main Crater and Lake

the easy trail 
the Ridge

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