Mount Mayon: The Majestic Lady and the Rugged ATVs

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“She’s covered.”

“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.

On the road to Mount Mayon

But let’s get to know the majestic lady first, shall we?

Majestic Mount Mayon on a clear day

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.

During our 2N/3D stay in Albay, we’ve observed gas-and-steam plumes coming out from the crater.

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.

Base camp of Your Big Brother

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. 🙂

28 km to the end of the Summit Trail (midway up the volcano)
Proud parents behind
Still a long way to go.
There were fallen trees on some parts, an aftermath of the typhoon two weeks earlier. Getting steeper now but we were almost there.
We’re back in the open, the destination felt near
The view from behind was great and gives an idea of how far we’ve come.
This is the team that made it! And true enough, it was brighter on this side.
Joaquin was exploring the area and using his binoculars to see where we’ve been.
Time to slow down now
Reflecting as a family on this outrageously rugged adventure
Me and hubby pointing at the rainbow. (Thanks to Ramil, our guide, for this ‘stolen’ shot.)
There it is
Walkin’ on sunshine 🙂
With our happy guides, Ramil and Christian
On our way down, we stopped by the lava flow from the 2006 eruption
We hang there for some time. Another chance to slow down. And wait for the sunset, too.
There’s the sunset now
We went to Cagsawa Ruins (1814 eruption that buried the town including this church and killed 1200 people) the following day. The majestic lady was on full display.
Apparently, she has a flaw too, just like any of us 🙂
That glow looks haunting. It appeared less than two months after we visited her…

Travel Tips:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Legazpi could be reached via a domestic flight as well.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Sources:

* https://www.britannica.com/place/Mayon-Volcano

** https://volcano.si.edu/volcano.cfm?vn=273030

https://www.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph/index.php/volcano-hazard/volcano-bulletins3

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Other posts on our volcano road trip in the Philippines:

Three Volcanoes and a Road Trip

Mount Mayon: ATV Summit Trail Video

15 comments

  1. I love your family attitude & perspective when travelling – I’m guessing you guys are just optimists, in general! I am again reminded of how wonderful it is that you still all like each other enough to do such adventurous things together on vacation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I and my 10-year old are eternal optimists, my hubby and the teenager call themselves realists hahahah… But yeah during our holidays, we tend to agree to be positive.

      Thank you for pointing that out. I am really grateful that we really do like each other and we still do many things together. But I think there were many things that we did during this road trip that were too daring and will not be repeated, phew!

      Like

      1. I imagine your knees go soft now when you look back at this super-adventurous trip!

        My family are lazy travellers – we like to eat, laze about … the most exciting things we get up to are shopping (Husband & Older Daughter only) and museum/art gallery visits.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Being lazy while on holiday is definitely nice too! And sometimes exactly what we need right? We also love museums and galleries. My favourite has to be the London National Gallery. Which one is yours? When they brought in some paintings of Monet and Juan Luna in our Nat’l Gallery, I had to visit twice hahaha 🙂

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