“Shall we do it anyway? Maybe it’s clear at the other side.”
That’s us when we travel. Always hopeful, always thinking there’s a bright side.
Our family was on a road trip in the Philippines in the southeastern part of the island of Luzon. We were heading for the first volcano in our itinerary.
The sky was overcast as we approached the city of Legazpi, the capital of the province of Albay where Mount Mayon could be found.
We could already see her symmetrical outlines, a perfect cone as she is often referred to. But she was shrouded in thick low lying clouds that midday. And with a threat of a downpour, we wondered how the ATV tour to the volcano is going to be like, if it pushes through at all.
But let’s get to know the majestic lady first, shall we?
Mount Mayon is a stratovolcano whose steep cone shape was built by layers (strata) of hardened lava and ash from previous eruptions. It is has a circumference of 130 km at the base and rises 8070 ft above sea level. *
Legend has it that she was named after a beautiful, fierce heroine princess, Magayon. Like Magayon, Mount Mayon has a captivating beauty that has fascinated many, our family included. And again similar to Magayon, she is unquestionably fierce and has demonstrated the extent of her power during several eruptions.
Mount Mayon is the Philippines’ most active volcano and according to Smithsonian has had 58 events since her first recorded eruption in 1661.** There have been varying degrees of eruptions in the recent times and the last one was in January 2018 which resulted in evacuation of tens of thousands of people and culminated in a spectacular display of lava fountain and ash columns.
We booked with Your Brother – Travel and Tours, the pioneer in Mount Mayon ATV tours. They offer various excursions of different lengths but we felt ambitious and aimed for the Summit Trail. It is the longest tour on the list that goes all the way to the highest point that the ATV is allowed to climb. We would be going 3500 ft above sea level which meant halfway up to the crater.
The van picked us up at our hotel after lunch. It brought us to their base camp where we had a short briefing and testing of the ATVs. It was also there that we met our two guides, Ramil and Christian. One of them volunteered to hold our camera and so we were spoilt with several family and action photos during this adventure.
The tour was a total of four hours of riding on steep, narrow, wet, and rough terrain. But, the adventure and victorious feeling once we’ve reached the highest point of the trail made the bumps and some neck strain all worth while.
Let me share with you some more pictures. 🙂
- Manila to Legazpi City could be quite a long drive especially if there is a traffic jam which is not uncommon in the Philippines. Google says 10 hours but this is hardly true.
- To get to Legazpi City from Manila, our first stop was at Lucena City (3 to 4 hours from Manila) for one night (since we started driving only after lunch). The following day we stopped at Naga City (5.5 to 6.5hrs from Lucena, another 2 hours to Legazpi), also for one night, because our family dislikes long tiring drives. We just love to take it slow and stop when we can.
- Legazpi could be reached via a domestic flight as well.
- We brought some food from Manila because we had to constantly feed our two hungry bears but don’t worry if you couldn’t because there’s McDonald’s or Jollibee for fast food.
- During school holidays, or Christmas Season like when we visited, book your accommodation early if your have certain standards. There are no 5-star hotels but the ones we stayed at in Lucena, Naga and Legazpi are really decent. I will give more details in another post.
- Lastly, try not to drive at night. The regional roads have minimal lampposts, there were some unmarked roads and it’s just not safe since some towns are quite far apart.
Other posts on our volcano road trip in the Philippines: