My most recent trip took me to the city of Manila, in the Philippines. It was my second time visiting, however since I didn’t get up to much last time I wanted to go out and see a bit more of the country.
We arrived early evening and had been awake and flying overnight. It was all I could manage to order some room service (lechon kawali – the most delicious Filipino crispy pork!) and have an early night.
The next morning I was awoken by the sound of alarm at 5am – I’m quite certain that that’s the first time I’ve voluntarily woken up before the sunrise on any layover!
A group of us had arranged a guide to take us to the Taal Volcano, in Batangas. We made our way to the hotel lobby and our guide was waiting for us, so we got in the car and started the drive.
It took us around 2 hours to get there, and we were surrounded by lush green palm trees and beautiful scenery most of the way.
We arrived at the Taal lake, where the volcano is located. Our guide brought out some coffee for us, as well as the most delicious “pandesal” – Filipino bread rolls with a slightly sweet taste which are very addictive!
To get to the volcano we had to take a boat across the lake, which took us around 20 minutes or so.
The four of us hopped in the boat, as well as our guide who sat up at the front, and the captain who was already sitting at the back. Our guide had thoughtfully provided us with some wide brimmed hats, which came in very handy!
Even at 8am the sun was already beating down, and it was over 30 degrees.
We arrived on the island where the volcano is located, and stepped out onto the beach. The small village there was already bustling with people and some of them were doing their washing in the lake!
We walked across the sand to make our way towards the volcano. To get to the top you ride a horse around 4km along the dusty path. Our guide even gave us face masks to use but I found my face was getting far too hot with it on!
The view all the way up was absolutely breathtaking, and we stopped a few times to let the horses have a break and take some pictures.
As you can see some of the path was very steep and rocky! At one point we even spotted a bit of smoke coming out of the ground from the volcano, which is currently dormant. The last eruption was in 1977, so I was hoping we’d be safe!
We made it to the top feeling pretty hot and sticky, and we greeted by the most incredible view. The volcano has a bright green lake in the centre!
It was absolutely beautiful, and we spent some time just walking around at the top and taking plenty of pictures.
There was also a viewpoint which we climbed up, which had an equally awesome view.
We sat and chatted in the shade with some of the locals at the top who have various stalls selling fresh coconuts and souvenirs. My fridge is almost full from all of the magnets I’ve collected during my travels but I had to add another one with the Taal Volcano on it!
Slowly we made our way back down to the horses ready for the trek back.
The view was just as breathtaking on the way down, and I was so glad I’d dragged myself out of bed in the morning.
Soon we arrived back at the beach and jumped off our horses. The guides who came with us said the horses only have to go up and down once a day, a couple of times a week. I really hope that’s the case and they didn’t have to go straight back up after dropping us off!
We got back onto the boat, and this time two local girls also hitched a ride. Feeling rather hot and sweaty, the cool breeze on the water was a much needed relief!
We arrived back at the car and jumped in, and started the journey back to Manila. It took us just under 2 hours this time, and I might have had a little snooze on the way!
I’m so happy I managed to explore a part of the Philippines, which was absolutely beautiful.