Our third day in Bicol could be considered the highlight of this trip as we got to see the majestic Mayon Volcano. And we’re coming in for a closer view and experience her trails.
Mayon Volcano is a very prominent part of the skyline of the province of Albay. At 2,463 meters above sea level (MASL), it’s pretty difficult to miss, on a clear day that is. We’re already on our third day in the region but most of the time it was cloudy so we’ve never had a glimpse of her world-renowned beauty. The world’s most perfect cone.
As I mentioned earlier, you don’t really have to go anywhere in particular in Albay just to view Mayon Volcano as she’s practically seen everywhere, but we had something else in mind. We decided to pay her a closer visit by traversing through a few kilometers of trails on ATVs (all-terrain vehicles). For this, we tapped the services of Your Brother Travel and Tours located in Barangay Pawa of Legazpi City. They apparently pioneered this ATV tour in the area and one of their most prominent client is none other than Hollywood actor Zac Efron.
Just to get things straight, Your Brother Travel and Tours is not just going to lend you an ATV and you’d have your way aimlessly through the trail; what you’re going to get is a guided tour while you’re on your ATV so you won’t get lost. Aside from choosing which type of ATV you’d like, you also get to pick which trails you’d like to use. Note that there are advanced trails where more powerful (and expensive) ATVs are required. For us, we opted for the advanced trail using 350cc single seater ATVs. See the rates and package details here.
Travel Tip: Leave one of your group’s best cameras to your guide (as we did) so that you can have great photos of your trip! Trust me, they’d know how to use your camera!
The tour begins with a brief orientation. It provides some basic guidelines on what and what not to do during the tour. Then we got our helmets and ATVs! We were given instructions individually on how to operate our ATVs and then we’re off for a quick lap around their test track which eventually leads out to the main road. By this time we’ve gotten familiar on driving our ATVs; and after a quick inspection on the fuel (refueling as needed), we’re off to the trails!
Travel Tip: Leave your valuables before starting your tour, but do bring cash. There are food and refreshments at the pit stop near the lava wall, and there’s a zip line from the top of the lava wall in case you make a quick and fun return back (₱300). For your clothing, wear something that could protect you from the sun and something you won’t mind getting wet into. There aren’t much shade if you go midday and there are streams you’d cross along the trails.
Immediately upon entering the trails, a beautiful stream greeted us. It’s like you’re in another world. And it was just so fun to cross that stream with all the water splashing all around. And it was such a great decision to leave my camera to our guide as he tirelessly took pictures of each one of us in places he knew would look nice! All of the pictures you see here where I’m mounted on an ATV were taken by our guide. 😉
As expected, the trails are not flat and they’re quite beautiful. I’m not sure if these routes have been used in a trail run, but they’d make for some really beautiful routes. Since we’re going towards Mayon, it is a gradual uphill, but since we’re on ATVs, it doesn’t really matter. We were having so much fun that before we knew it we’ve already reached our pit stop near the lava wall.
Travel Tip: Keeping your distance (as mentioned in the orientation) is more than just an issue of safety. The trails are made of sand, mud, water, and everything in between so if you don’t want to eat someone else’s dust, literally, keep your distance!
We were quite fortunate that someone brought along some cash in our tour as we were just thirsty by the time we reached our pit stop. From here, it’s time to move our legs and do some rock climbing at the edge of Mayon’s lava wall. This is where the lava that flowed out of the volcano during its 2006 eruption ended and cooled. And it’s quite high!
It’s my first time to actually see cooled lava and they actually look like ordinary dark rocks, except that they feel porous. They can also be sharp on the edges so climbing the lava wall needs some caution. The locals were kind enough to paint some directional arrows to guide us visitors on where to step as you can easily be overwhelmed by the sheer vastness of the lava field. And why are we climbing this lava wall?
The effort in climbing this lava wall is pretty much worth it because of the stunning 360 degree view of Albay. And this helipad is really useful as it’s the only flat surface in this area so taking panoramic and even jump shots are safe. And speaking of pictures, our guides who have been with countless tourists showed us some of their prowess when it comes to taking trick shots. And I think every one of us has his or her own unique trick shot for bragging on social media.
And then it’s finally time to return. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a zip line here that could quickly lead you back down. Climbing up the lava wall could be quite tiring for those who aren’t really active and going down is still a challenge so if you don’t want to walk and want to return quickly, this is the best and most exciting way! I would’ve wanted to, but I really liked to experience walking down this lava wall so maybe next time.
Panoramic view from the helipad on the lava wall, across Mayon :cool:.
You would think that the return trip would be boring as we already seen what we need to see, but surprisingly it’s not as we had a slightly different route and there were more challenging parts. And what’s great about these parts is that on our pictures, we have the magnificent Mayon on our background. In fact, the first picture on this post was taken on our way back.
This ATV tour may not be the cheapest way of seeing Mayon but it sure is very exciting and fun and we got to cover a lot of area in a short amount of time. Seeing Mayon for the first time may not have been as exciting or memorable for me had it not been for this ATV tour. This is one of those days that I’m glad to be alive! And seriously, I’m already thinking of getting the longest route next time I return to bring me much closer to the volcano! 😆
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Bicol Express Chronicles: