Taal volcano as tourist destination
A recent visit to Batangas province has been a rewarding experience for our small group of trekkers looking for a unique weekend just outside Metro Manila. The Philippine Insurers and Reinsurers Association (PIRA) made the trip possible.
The group headed south, about 80 kilometers from Manila, via the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) Tollway until we reached the idyllic lakeshore town of Talisay, where flowers bloom all around.
At the Club Balai Isabel, we stayed overnight and feasted on the resort's local cuisines. Balai Isabel, built on an 11-hectare lakeside property, attracts foreign and local tourists alike. It has townhomes designed for rich investors who wish to have their own piece of paradise and a five-story condotel for guests.
At dinner, Tawilis, a small fish found in Taal Lake, was served, to the delight of the diners. The 27-kilometer-long Taal Lake is said to be the country's third largest and abounds with various fish species endemic to the lake and its river tributaries. Also served on the table were maliputo, which abounds in the nearby Pansipit River, and the all-time favorite tilapia.
We had to fill up to gain strength for the trek to the volcono island. We decided that we would not ride on horses, which are available on the island for a fee, and which are the usual mode of transport for foreign tourists willing to pay P400 or more for a five-kilometer roundtrip to and from the crater-lake. Besides, trekking on foot would allow you to observe closely the forest, its trees, animals, birds and insects that you can hardly find in the metro nowadays.
Taal Volcano, although being considered the smallest in the world, has been active for centuries. The fact is it has many craters scattered across the Taal Lake, which used to be one large mountain that collapsed because of repeated explosions in the past, according to accounts. About 33 eruptions were recorded at Taal since 1572, the latest in 1977.
Our group left Club Isabel early in the morning and took a boat ride to the volcano island. From there, our tourist guide led us to a horse trail uphill to the crater, which is now a lake. There is a viewing deck for a wide view of the crater lake, but guests have to option to go down and navigate a trail downhill to take a dip in the sulfuric pool water of the crater lake. We were contented with the top view of the crater lake.
We returned to Club Isabel for lunch and on our way back to Manila, decided to take the scenic but difficult route to Tagaytay. Our vehicle needed to be on first gear at times to climb the abrupt upward turns. Tagaytay City, at an altitude of 2,250 feet above sea level, experiences a lot of real estate developments right now, with investors lured by the relatively cooler temperature of Tagaytay and the view of Taal Lake.