Being one of the most known volcanoes in the Philippines, and perhaps in the world, a trek to the crater of the Ta-al Volcano is definitely a must-try.
Why go to Ta-al?: If you want to get real up close an active volcano accompanied by several surprises along the way, Ta-al is a very good choice.
How did we go?: We wanted to go to certain locations first before finally heading up to Ta-al. In this trip, we rode a bus headed from Manila towards Sta. Rosa, Laguna to stop over in Enchanted Kingdom, a local fun amusement park, then hired a van going towards Tagaytay to enjoy its noted cool and clean surroundings. After that, we drove us to Talisay City, Batangas. where we rented a boat to cross Ta-al’s outer lake to its inner land circle.
Note that there are many ways one can access Ta-al. It is best to plan your trip ahead of time so that you can decide wisely which path suits your comfort.
What you should do?: The most enjoyable trip of your life in Ta-al doesn’t have to be that costly. At the foot of the Ta-al volcano, the locals of the community will welcome you warmly. There, you can ask one of them to accompany you to the crater. Of course, you have to give them some freebies as well. After choosing your tour guide, talk with him. Ask him what’s his name, how is he, how long has he be doing this job or does he have any other form of livelihood. Ask them anything about Ta-al as well, they know more the place they live in than anybody. By doing this, you’re not just discovering the place but more importantly the life within it. I have the opportunity to mingle with a local named Dennis, the horse jockey I had to accompany me. He was born in Batangas, lived in the same place ever since in his 36 years of living and has been doing the job for 10 years now. Dennis, was no taller than I am so I felt like I was talking to a comrade – a very close comrade if I may describe it. His dark complexion, black pupils, dry hair, dirty nails and gapped teeth spoke much of the simplicity of the life of the humble people living within the vicinity.
Aside from having a local tour guide, you can horseback your way to Ta-al too! Horses in this part of the world are so friendly and their names – Jericho, Cristina, etc. – are very amusing as well.
But my suggestion is that you trek to the crater and then horseback your way back to the town. That method, you’ll enjoy the the perks of both options. Just remember that any of those ways mentioned, you’ll have to bear with the smell of horse poop along the track. In my case, I just laughed out my disgust of the smell but occasionally covering my nose to avoid it. Besides, it is still part of the entire Ta-al experience, isn’t it?
You can do these things while you are on your way to the crater as well:
- Locate some sulfur emissions of the volcano and its rotten egg-like smell
- Talk to your fellow tourists and ask them how they’re doing. If they are enjoying, tell them great.If they are not, tell them have a life.
- Wonder at the scenic views of different islands.
- Take pictures! Just remember not to obsess too much on documenting the trip through your cam or phone that you fail to actually document it in your memory.
Once you reach the top, take some time to rest. Perhaps, you can take a sip of a local vendor’s buko or buy souvenirs like locally-made shirts and other items. This way, you’re having physical memoirs of your journey and at the same time, helping the community.
After gaining energy, now’s the perfect time to enjoy the view. Meditate on the view, capture it in your mind thinking you might not come back to this place. If you’re with your family, now’s the time to enjoy it with them; with friends, to have fun; with a lover, to be romantic; or alone, to reflect on everything worth’s reflecting.
Where to eat?: After the tiring yet fun trek, it’s just right to reward yourself a hearty meal. You can go back to Tagaytay and drive straight to the Mahogany Market. The market is known for its sumptuous and delicious native cuisines, all for reasonable prices! You can try their roasted crablets, fried shrimps, sweet pineapples and their bulalo (beef stew) is one, if not the, place’s finest. If you want, you can pair all those food with a native coffee. Just to mention, Tagaytay is known also for its coffee.
So what are you thinking about now? Plan your next rrip and let that trip be a trek to Ta-al.