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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrTaal Volcano is a very popular attraction, being the smallest active volcano in the world. It is actually a volcano within a lake within a volcano within a lake within an island and this geological phenomenon is what makes it world-famous. This volcano is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire and is located right in the mountainous ridge of the province of Batangas in the Philippines.
For those who just want a majestic view of the volcano, Tagaytay is the best place to do so, as it is 686 meters above the surface of Taal Lake and gives a direct view of the volcano. But the best experience is to cross Taal Lake, go to the volcano itself, and see it up-close.
HistoryHalf a million years ago, the province of Batangas and Cavite used to be a part of an enormous volcano that was 5,486 meter high. When the volcano collided, a large caldera (cauldron) was formed. It had a channel which opened out towards Balayan Bay, draining out the rainwater that would collect at the caldera.
There have been more than 40 eruptions since 1572. A major eruption occurred in 1754 that lasted for almost 6 months. The sky all the way to Manila was dark for days that even during mid-morning, people were carrying lanterns while walking around. This eruption is possibly the reason why the open channel that leads out to sea was closed up. The fresh rainwater that accumulated in the caldera became the Taal Lake.
After subsequent interruptions, another volcanic island called the Volcano Island was formed with a lake in its crater called the Crater Lake. Still, another eruption in 1911, which resulted in more than one thousand lost lives, also created Vulcan Point in the middle of Crater Lake.
GeologyThe island has an area of approximately 23 square kilometers, and geologically has 47 different overlapping craters and cones. The large caldera is Taal Lake. The bigger island in the middle of Taal Lake is Volcano Island. On Volcano Island is Crater Lake. Vulcan Point is the small island in the middle of Crater Lake. So, Vulcan Point is in Crater Lake which is in Volcano Island which is in Taal Lake.
Things to Do
HikingIf this is the only opportunity that you will have of setting foot on Taal Volcano, hiking is a good way to see the breathtaking views of Crater Lake and surrounding areas. The 2-kilometer Spanish Trail or Daang Kastila is the trail regularly used by tourists who hike or go horseback riding. Along the way to the summit, you will see volcanic sulfuric steams, evidence that you are standing on an active volcano. The air in Volcano Island is fresh although the tourist trail has the obnoxious horse dung smell as well. The hour-long trek is challenging and difficult but the view of the lake and mountains are incredible. Local guides can be hired to lead the way.
The private, 2-kilometer Kenney Trail is a quieter and cleaner route especially during weekends with less people and horses. There are more tree covers along this route but the view is not as amazing as the Spanish Trail. Tour guides are offered at ₱500 ($11) but both trails are well-defined so you will not get lost if you do decide to go without a guide.
Horseback RidingHorses are available to take you up to the crater in about 20 minutes. The Spanish Trail used for hiking is the same one used for horseback riding. The terrain is quite rugged from coast to top but on a clear sunny day, you see a kaleidoscope of colors with the island’s red rocks, blue skies, white clouds, green mountains surrounding Lake Taal, and its emerald water. Horseback riding fee is about ₱350 ($7.70) without a guide and ₱500 ($11) with a guide from the lake's coast up to Crater Lake.
CampingThere are wide grounds available for camping, even up to groups of 100 people. It is a unique place to camp out but a totally serene and rejuvenating place with the cool, fresh air and serenity of the island. Most campers prefer to camp at the shores of Taal Lake where fishermen sell fish that come from the lake. Others camp near Crater Lake besides this is highly discouraged.
SwimmingYou can swim in Crater Lake although it is not advisable to stay too long because of the presence of sulfuric acid and high levels of magnesium, aluminum, sodium, and boron. It is safer to go swimming in Taal Lake, a freshwater lake.
How to Get ThereBy private vehicle, take the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and exit at Silangan toll gate, then pass by turbine, Carmelray, and turn right to the Star Tollway. Go straight ahead and exit at Sambat (Tanauan) and turn right to go to Talisay.
By bus, take the Batangas via any Tanauan-bound bus that can be found at Taft Avenue in Pasay near the Buendia LRT. The bus fare is about ₱89 ($1.96). Stop at the Tanauan public market and board the jeep bound for Talisay.
There are pumpboats or Filipino, motorized outrigger boats that can be used to cross Taal Lake Talisay to the Volcano I. The trip is about 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the wave and wind conditions. Boat rental is between ₱1,500 ($33) to ₱2,000 ($44) for a 6-person capacity boat plus ₱20 ($0.44) docking fee, ₱50 ($1.10) landing tax, and ₱10 ($0.22) per person barangay fee.
Travel TipsAlways bring sunscreen, a hat (wide-brimmed is best), and a lot of water. There are sheds that sell soda but it gets more expensive the nearer you get to the submit. At the summit, there are viewing decks and stalls that sell buko juice and souvenir shirts but the shirts are more expensive there than in the mainland.
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Author: janblim. Last updated: Dec 12, 2014