Taal Volcano: Guide to Hiking (or Horseback Riding) to the Crater Lake

This is a long overdue post that I should have written four months ago. I attempted to finish this last month during my field break but I got busy with other things. Hopefully, I finish this today. So moving on… the day after my 35th birthday last June, my college friends Hanna, Liza and I went to Taal to hike. Well, I thought we were hiking. But on our way to Taal, Hanna and Liza started talking about horseback riding to the top. I sensed that they were planning to do it and they even tried convincing me to do it too. By the time we got to Batangas, they have already decided they are going to ride a horse to the top.

Taal Volcano is a complex volcano and has an elevation of 311 MASL. It is the second most active volcano in the Philippines and is said to be the smallest active volcano in the world. According to Wikipedia, the crater lake on Volcano Island is the largest lake on an island in a lake on an island in the world. Refer to the picture below to better understand this.

The Main Crater Lake on Volcano Island is the largest lake on an island in a lake (Lake Taal) on an island (Luzon Island) in the world. (Screenshot from Google Earth)

Unlike the other hiking trips I had previously, I didn’t read much about hiking in Taal. All I know is that it takes about 45 minutes to get to the top, its level of difficulty is 2/9 and getting to Taal Volcano Island entails crossing Lake Taal. This was the reason I never planned on hiking Taal alone in the past. I felt that spending Php 1,500.00 to Php 2,000.00 for a boat is not practical.

We hired a boat at San Roque’s Paradise Resort in Talisay, Batangas. The resort has a wide parking space and a clean restroom and shower room. The owner, Lita Merkx was very accommodating and she even gave us a brief presentation about Taal Volcano before we went on with our adventure.

The parking area at San Roque’s Paradise Resort

Mrs. Merkx’s “visual aid” during her short presentation about Taal

The boat ride to Volcano Island took about 25 minutes. From the docking area, we walked a little to the registration area to pay the registration fee. Afterwards, Hanna and Liza were made to chose the horse they are going to ride. After seeing the horses, Liza decided to hike instead because she felt that the horse is too thin and won’t be able to handle her. After about 15 minutes of walking, however, Liza decided to get a horse because she was already tired. I went ahead as I was the only one who is going to hike. We agreed to meet at the top.

The docking area

The Hike

We got to Volcano Island at half past 11 in the morning so it was almost noon when I started to hike. It really isn’t advisable to do your hike at this time of the day because it is very hot. The hike is really easy, the ascent is gradual but doing it midday is very exhausting. There are resting huts along the way where you can rest for a while if the heat of the sun becomes unbearable. The most challenging part of the hike is the final stretch before reaching the resting stations just a few meters under the viewing deck wherein the trail is composed of steep ascents coupled with sulfur steam emitted from the ground.

Just to give an idea of how the trail looks like. Do note that horses pass by this trail too.

Some parts of the trail look like this

At the rest station. Hanna and her horse Charlene

Liza’s guide is too clingy 😂

Mount Tabaro. One of the advantages of hiking instead of riding a horse is that you get to enjoy the view and take pictures.

If you reach this part, you are already close to the viewing deck

This was the most difficult part of the trail. I was so close to the viewing deck already but I was so exhausted so I decided to rest for a while.

Expectation vs. Reality

As I have mentioned earlier, I didn’t read much about hiking to Taal prior to going there so I really had no idea about the condition of the trail. I was expecting though that it’s the same as the other mountains I hiked. I was a bit disappointed because the reality is that the trail is so dusty because of the horses passing. You actually share the trail with the horses. Almost everyone going to the crater lake are riding on a horse. And the worst part, the trail stinks because the horses don’t have something to catch their poop so there are horse droppings along the trail. The view at the top, however, was outstanding.

The reality is that you need dust mask when hiking/horseback riding to the top of Taal because the trail is very dusty.

The View at the Top

This is what you will see at the top. The tiny island is Vulcan Point.

Trip to Taal is not complete without a picture with this beautiful background.

With my college friends Hanna and Liza

At the entrance of Red Lava. Red Lava offers a breathtaking 360-degree scenery of Taal Lake and the faraway mountains of Maculot and Batulao. An entrance fee of Php 50.00 is collected at the gate.

Red Lava

At the Red Lava. I had the place all to myself because my two friends backed out. Good thing I had my selfie stick with me haha.

At the hut near the entrance to Red Lava

The view of the trail taken at the view deck

Tips

  • Bring dust mask, cap, and shades. The trail is very dusty.
  • Wear appropriate shoes. DO NOT wear heels. It is also not advisable to wear flip-flops.
  • Bring water. There are vendors selling water and other beverages at the registration area, at the resting huts, and at the view deck but their price is too high. Water costs Php 50, Gatorade costs Php 100 and 12 oz coke costs Php 50 at the view deck.
  • Do slather on sunblock lotion to protect yourself from the harmful UV rays.
  • Bring face towel and extra shirt as you will be perspiring a lot.
  • Start your hike early to avoid the sun on extremely hot days.
  • Bring umbrella or waterproof jacket in case it rains. You can also use the umbrella to protect you from the heat of the sun.
  • Watch your steps. Be very careful especially when going down.
  • Enjoy the view and take lots of pictures. 🙂

Fees:

Boat rental: Php 1500.00 (6 pax capacity)

Registration fee: Php 100.00

Environmental fee: Php 50.00

Horse Backriding (Optional) – Php 500/head

Red Lava Viewpoint Fee – Php 50

*A guide is not required.

How to Get There:

From Manila, take a bus bound for Tagaytay City, Nasugbu or Balayan and alight in Olivares or in Rotunda just in front of the Police Station. From there hire a tricycle going to Talisay or to your contacted boat station.

Boat Rental Contact Information:

San Roque’s Paradise Resort: +639394776063 / +639054179179 / +639202248975 / +63437730271

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