Spring Break in The Philippines–Ta’al Volcano and Tiny Horses:

Recently my daughter and I flew to Manila  to meet up with my husband, Chris.  He was there on an all too frequent business trip and my daughter was on spring break.  Seemed like a good way to burn some airline miles!

After a 26 hour journey, we arrived on a Wednesday night and dragged our tired bodies to our hotel in Alabang, which is an area south of Manila.  While Chris was working, we explored the area for a couple of days, then we all caught a plane for a 6 day visit to Busuanga Island in the very northern part of Palawan province.

Map of the Philippines
The first day, before jet lag took hold, we met up with our driver for the trip to Tagaytay, where we caught a boat to the Ta’al volcano crater.  The unique thing about Ta’al is that the crater itself is an island inside a huge lake (Ta’al lake).  And, inside the crater is a lake–with an island in the lake!  So if you’re keeping track, Ta’al volcano is an island inside a lake, on an island, with an island  inside….Crazy, huh?  Oh, and it happens to be the smallest volcano in the world.

It took us about an hour to reach Tagaytay, which sits high on a mountain overlooking the lake.  We stopped at the Starbucks to snap a photo, and the baristas all wanted to take a picture with Chloe.  She had never experienced anything like this before.  The Filipinos are the sweetest and most friendly people, and enamored with westerners.  Can you believe the view from this Starbucks?

That’s Ta’al Volcano in the lake
View adjacent to the Starbucks

In order to reach the volcano, we drove about a half hour down the most serpentine road I’ve ever been on to reach the road that circles the lake.  Once at the bottom we chartered an outrigger style boat and guide to the volcano island.  Now these boats, well, I wouldn’t exactly call them high-end.  I mean, I was concerned we weren’t going to make it across the lake given the copious amounts of duct tape and tie wraps I noticed.  It’s a 20 minute ride across, so there was legitimate cause for pause…..The guide hands us a tarp and quips, ‘you might need this’.  These outriggers sit low in the water, and any wake you cross, and gust of wind, well, you’re gonna get wet.  And we did.

Ta’al crater in the distance.  We were basically sitting on the water during this ride
looking back towards Tagaytay

Once on the island, the guide (our guide in the red cap)  goes everywhere with you.  The guide told us we would ride a little donkey up to view the crater, but that wasn’t exactly accurate…..

Can you believe how small this horse is?  I thought Chloe’s feet would drag the ground.  These are full-grown.  Now, I had some thoughts about riding these horses…..like, “I should just walk, these horses are too small to ride”, primarily.  In the end we rode.  Why?  The ONLY business going on this little volcano is tourism, and getting people up the volcano to view the crater is literally their livelihood–like if their horse isn’t ridden, they might not eat.  These horses were going to be ridden, whether we rode them or someone else did.  To make myself feel better I rationalized that Chloe and I were probably the lightest fares these horses were going to get.

 

Typical homes on the island

Anyway, I wouldn’t say it was the most enjoyable ride, but the views were fabulous.  And it was interesting that our boat guide came with us, and each of us had a guide for our horse who ran alongside the horse, mainly keeping the horse from bolting.  I mean, these horses were MOVING.

Once at the top, we were greeted by someone helping us off our horses, who then asked us to buy Gatorade or coconut water for our horse guides.  Of course we did.  I don’t think the guide ever got his Gatorade.   But we got some coconuts…

Behind us is Ta’al lake and Tagaytay in the distance

At the top there are several viewing platforms.  Notice the little island in the second picture below?

The body of water in the distance is the lake! It’s so big!

The last time the volcano erupted was in the 1920s.  You can see the water bubbling in the below pictures, though.

I’m a Pure Barre nut, so I make my daughter or husband take a picture of me in one of the poses everywhere we go.  They LOVE IT.

 

My husband made this trip previously with some work colleagues.  Apparently it was really windy  and raining the day they went, and they were completely drenched  and miserable by the time they got to the island.  He let his horse guide ride the horse up, and by the time he got to the crater, he was like, ‘eh, I’ve seen better’.  Couldn’t see beyond the crater due to the bad weather……

I hope you enjoyed this tour of Ta’al Volcano.  Has anyone else taken the trip to Tagaytay or Ta’al?  What did you think of it?

Next time, I’ll talk about Pagsanjan Falls.  Lemme just say this.  It was weird and wonderful.

Thanks for stopping by!

Joan