Taal Volcano half-day hike

Before our tour, I was lucky to find a slightly more affordable Taal Volcano hike provider. I was really nervous because I just found him on Facebook and I wasn’t even sure if he was legit since he seems new and the price seems too good to be true. In this case, I was glad I trusted my gut instinct, plus he didn’t ask for a downpayment so I wasn’t really scared if he didn’t turn up; we’d just be disappointed!

20160131_090955_markedThe name of the provider is Bryan Malvataan, and the reason his services are so cheap is because he owns the boats and is the one renting out to other resorts who offer Taal Volcano hikes. He offered the tour at P1,350 per person for us three, which already included the roundtrip boat transfer, roundtrip horse ride with a personal assistant, coconut drink after the descent, pick-up from Club Balai, face mask (it’s very dusty going up Taal), and mineral water. The roundtrip transfer to the hotel is actually not included but since we were super near the boat station, he picked us up for free.

The tour guide was just one of his staff who went along with us on the boat ride, handled the paperwork for us and made sure we got suitable horses for our weight. He didn’t go up with us since it will take him a long time on foot and he didn’t have a free horse.

The road was pretty steep and we were careful because we might fall off the horse. Even though we didn’t walk, we’re not used to riding a horse so our bodies still ached. There was a time when I had to suddenly duck because my horse was being too playful and trotted quickly up a different path, where a branch was swinging low. I actually felt a little bad riding the horse while my guide walked the whole way, but she assured me that they’re used to it, and that since there are plenty of them offering horseback riding services, they only get to make one trek, so my fee was her sole income for the day. Although tipping is optional, we each gave them P50 (the only amount that could fit our budget) at the end of our ride.

Curly haired horse for a curly haired rider
Curly haired horse for a curly haired rider

But before we started, we had a short introduction to where we’re actually going. You know that little volcano-shaped mountain we love to take pictures of? Did you know it’s actually not the actual Taal Volcano?

Spot the actual Taal Volcano
Spot the actual Taal Volcano

My father told me this before, so I was very excited to see the actual Taal Volcano, or the world-famous volcano with a lake within a lake. Yes, this group of mountains is situated in a lake, the Taal Caldera, and the Taal Volcano itself has its own lake, as you can see from the picture. I think I fell in love with Taal just a bit more.

We went up Taal around 8am so that it wouldn’t be too hot. It’s really recommended that you hike early and to also bring a face mask or shawl to cover your face because it’s extremely dusty. We were so very glad we had a hat and water with our package.

Along the way, our horse guides would point out little pockets along the road where steam was coming out. Do remember that the Taal Volcano is an active volcano. And that in 1754, it erupted for six months.

Taal Volcano -- what a view!
Mouth of Taal Volcano — what a view!

We spent about thirty minutes taking pictures and just taking in the view. There are some shaded areas because they’ve set up stalls and are selling drinks.

After thirty minutes, we had to go because we wanted to take a bath and rest a little before going back to Manila. Thankfully, Club Balai agreed to extend our check-out time by an hour because of our tour. Whew!

Tired but happy travelers
Tired but happy travelers back at the boat station

The ride to Taal Volcano was choppy, but it was choppier on our way back. We thought Taal Caldera was very placid, but it only looked like that in pictures! Good thing our boatmen had huge plastic sheets at the ready that helped to cover us up from most of the splashes. I kinda pitied the hikers we saw about to leave the pier.

Back at the boat station, we were each handed a buko juice. Since I’m all for trying out new experiences, I surprised my sister by drinking it! I’m not a fan of buko juice, but it was so rehydrating after a three-hour trip up the mountain.

After checking out of Club Balai, we went to Tagaytay City for lunch. I really wanted to try Breakfast at Antonio’s, but we didn’t realize traffic in Tagaytay had gotten so bad that we arrived 2pm, after leaving Club Balai at noon. We were so famished, I bought a cookie from Antonio’s pastry shop while waiting for our food.

Such a beautiful, romantic place. I immediately understood why it's a popular date place!
Such a beautiful, romantic place. I immediately understood why it’s a popular date place!

Breakfast at Antonio’s is so popular so we had high expectations.

After our lunch there, the best thing about Breakfast at Antonio’s is the ambiance.

The service was pretty bad! We were seated after a few minutes and we ordered immediately. It’s a good thing I ordered their eggs Benedict and carbonara, because the latter never came. They kept assuring me it was on its way, but thirty minutes passed and it still hasn’t arrived. By 3pm, I gave up on it, and they didn’t apologize. I don’t think they even cooked it!

I looked forward to their hot choco, which also took ages to arrive, but again, it was nothing special. As an avid fan of hot chocolate, I’ve had better.

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Pancake and bacon
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Eggs Benedict — a little expensive for the quantity, and not as filling as I hoped.
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Bacon, pan de sal, eggs and hash brown
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Weekender trip with Kesh. Thanks for the happy weekend, buddy!

Their pastries were delicious, though, so I bought some for the ‘rents. But the three of us agreed that Breakfast at Antonio’s was not the culinary delight and experience we thought it would be. But if somebody asks to take me there, I wouldn’t say no, if only for the beautiful ambiance and view, and finally taste that friggin’ carbonara!

 

This is not a sponsored post. All photos are unedited except for the watermark. Please don’t grab them and use them for your own.

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