Travel Photography Philippines: Experience Taal Volcano Up-close

April 20, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Taal Volcano is part of a chain of volcanoes along the island of Luzon, which were formed by two tectonic plates colliding over 500,000 years ago. Since the formation of this large caldera (Taal Lake), subsequent eruptions created another volcanic island, within Taal Lake, known as Volcano Island.

Over thirty eruptions have been recorded at Taal since the 16th century, mostly small eruptions restricted to Volcano Island. However, occasional violent activity has affected the entire region with the death toll estimated at over 5000 people. Because of its proximity to populated areas and its eruptive history, Taal Volcano was designated a Decade Volcano.

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Taal Volcano Crater
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The lake's water is a diluted form of sulphuric acid with high concentration of boron, magnesium, aluminium and sodium in salt form. Its average depth measures 20m. Swimming is allowed in the lake.

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Volcano Island (In The Lake)

Taal Volcano is the smallest active volcano in the world. Its unexplained shape and location on an island within a lake within an island, makes it a unique geologic wonder, enthralling thousands of tourists and geologists yearly. This island covers an area of about 23 km², and consists of forty-seven different overlapping cones and craters. It is one of the active volcanoes in the Philippines and part of the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’.

Permanent settlement in the island is prohibited by the government. Despite the warnings, poor families have settled on the island, risking their lives, earning a living through tourism, fishing and farming crops from the rich volcanic soil.

Taal Volcano Crater - Talisay, BatangasTaal Volcano Crater - Talisay, BatangasTaal Volcano Crater
Vulcan Point (an island in the Crater Lake on Volcano Island in Lake Taal)

In 1911 a devastating eruption claimed over a thousand lives. The deposits of the eruption drastically changed the floor of the main Crater Lake creating Vulcan Point. Vulcan Point is the world's largest island within a lake on an island within a lake on an island. (An island in the Crater Lake on Volcano Island in Lake Taal on the island of Luzon)

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Reflection of Boatman

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Horse and guide at Kalawit trail

There are two ways to enjoy your visit in Taal Volcano Main Crater. You can take the regular tourist trail and enjoy a panoramic, bird’s eye view of the crater or hike your way up (then down) via the Secret or Kalawit (Calauit) Trail and witness not just the beautiful panorama of the lake but also experience the warmth of the sulfurated water.

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Freshwater Sardinella (Tagalog: Tawilis)

Taal Lake is home to the world's only freshwater sardine locally known as Tawilis. Found exclusively in Lake Taal it is the only member of the sardine family that is known to exist exclusively in freshwater. In the 18th century large eruptions sealed Taal Lake from the sea forcing the trapped Tawilis into evolving into a purely freshwater species.

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Local Fisherman at the Freshwater lake

Tawilis stocks in Lake Taal have been commercially fished for several decades. The fish is a popular food fish in the Philippines, and tons are shipped to most of the major cities in the country. In addition to raw consumption, tawilis are also eaten dried and salted. The species is threatened by overfishing with many experts believing that they will eventually become extinct.

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Pansipit River (sole drainage outlet of Taal Lake)

The Pansipit River is the sole drainage outlet of Taal Lake. The river has a very narrow entrance at Lake Taal and stretches nine kilometres before emptying into Balayan Bay. The lake's freshwater population of giant trevally conduct its annual migration run through the river. At one time, more than 80 different species of fish were found to inhabit the river's waters, either as a migratory channel or as a permanent residence. This once included Taal Lake's now-extinct population of bull sharks.

The construction of fish cages has long been a problem for the river's natural ecology. Fish cages, oftentimes spanning the width of the entire river; physically block the natural migratory paths of fish species that move between the lake and the sea. Over the years, numerous measures have been attempted to curb the growing number of illegal fish cages in the river.

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Lake Taal (freshwater lake)

Lake Taal is a large freshwater lake with a high sulphuric content. In the 18th century large eruptions sealed Taal Lake from the sea, eventually leading its waters to become non-saline. The lake is only 2.5 metres above sea level and its surface area measures over 230 square kilometres. The lake is fed by over 30 rivers but has only one outlet, the Pansipit River which drains into Balayan Bay in the South China Sea. 

For decades Taal Lake has been used and abused by local communities, to its detriment. Most of the abuse has been in the
form of overfishing and exploitation, with the deployment of fish cages for aquaculture-profit. With the ever increasing scarring of the mountainsides and valleys for housing projects, the removal of the forests and the pollution of the rivers and streams that feed the Taal Lake, are now Taal Lake’s greatest enemies.

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How to get there:

Taal volcano is about 60 km from Manila. A day trip from Manila to see the volcano from Tagaytay Ridge involves a 90- minute bus journey . There are three main roads that link Tagaytay City to the lake and the Taal Volcano. One is the Diokno Highway near the border to Nasugbu, Batangas other one is just behind the Tagaytay Rotunda (but this is a very steep road); and the most preferred way is the Ligaya Drive near the Tagaytay-Sta. Rosa road, which leads to the town of Talisay, Batangas. Talisay is the major jump-off point where boats are available to reach the volcano island.

  • Boat riding – be ready to get wet for a bumpy boat ride to cross to the crater as it is the only means of transportation. Takes about 30 to 45 minutes depending on which trail you going through.
  • Horseback riding – going up the crater thru this mode will consume about 20 minutes (Regular Tourist Trail) or 45 minutes (Kalawit Trail).
  • Trekking – if you want a more difficult and challenging way to get up, go by foot, hiking up will take an hour
  • Sightseeing – the surrounding scenes can definitely wear out your tiredness from the rough trek trails. Enjoy the nature tracks that offers tranquil ambiance.

 

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