You know it is never enough to just admire Mayon Volcano from afar. With a beauty like that, you understand there is some way of “conquering” her. If you cannot set foot on top of Mayon, then surely, you should find a way to at least enjoy a piece of it in a manner that is not easily forgettable. But if your energy tells you you are ready to get to Mayon’s crater, by all means, go. Mayon Volcano asks you to stop staring at her and get out of your usual viewing spot.
When it is your first time to conquer Mayon, it is important that you embark on a good start. Plan your trip accordingly so that you get a really magnificent view of Mayon while you are still up in the air or while your seatmate on the bus is still dozing it of in dreamland. This way, you wouldn’t have to spend your little time looking for that one spot where you can have a good vista of Mayon. That time should be spent wisely on conquering her.
When flying to Legazpi City, ask for a window seat. I cannot exactly tell you to take the left or right side of these window seats as the pilot can navigate the plane differently from time to time, but it is always best to take a window seat. Nothing is really amazing about Legazpi’s airport but having Mayon Volcano as your backdrop as you emerge out of your airplane is indeed a unique traveling experience. Take the earliest flight from Manila (that would have to be Cebu Pacific which leaves Manila at 6:05am when they are on time) as Mayon is highly visible early in the morning.
When you are really lucky, you get to ogle at this view even before you set foot in Bicolandia.
When taking the air-conditioned buses from Manila, avoid the early trips that leave at 4pm or 5pm. Traveling at this time will get you in Legazpi City very early, (usually around 4:00am or 5:00am) and Mayon will not yet be ready for her closeup then. It is better to take the later trips (preferably the one at 7:00pm) as it will allow you a really good view of Mayon before 6:00am the next day. I have a particular bias for Cagsawa buses because I can vouch for their good service, so I recommend you take their trips. They have booking offices in Ermita and Cubao (02-9131514). Fare ranges from PhP750 to PhP950.
Make sure you take the window seat on the driver’s side and get your sense working (especially your sense of sight) at 5:30am the next day. You are sure to enjoy a really good view of Mayon Volcano with rice fields on the foreground.
Now, for your “cute conquers” of Mayon, you can head to Cagsawa Ruins and have your jump shot taken such as the one I have here. They make for very good conversation pieces and while a lot of people are into this already, it is how you innovate your jump that makes your shot with Mayon as your backdrop an out-of-the-ordinary take on admiring the volcano.
Trust the locals who offer to take your pictures. They will approach you and can get really persistent at times but they know how to do the trick and have probably memorized the best angle to capture Mayon’s full glory. So after some time working on your camera and trying those tricks and not really getting the results that you want, you will relent anyway. Make sure to give them an “appreciation fee” that you feel does not disadvantage them or you. Make this a barkada or a family endeavor.
When you want a different adrenaline rush as you conquer Mayon, head to Lingnon Hill and get on their zipline ride. This surely elevates your game. Marvel at Mayon’s beauty as you scream at the top of your lungs. Remember, everybody can have a picture of Mayon Volcano to show to their friends when they’re back in the city, but not everyone can have this picture with them. The experience, however, requires you to shell out PhP250 for the two-way zipline ride but it is worth it. Look for Alvin Luminario of Linghon Hill Zipline.
Now, for that one hardcore conquer that is like no other, climb Mayon Volcano. The climb will take you up to the crater, this is indeed one helluva conquer. There is a common misconception that Mayon Volcano is unconquerable and dangerous (it is an active volcano, after all), but now there is a way to get to its crater without putting your life in danger. The Mayon Outdoor Guide Association or MOGA is the only organization accredited by the Department of Tourism – Bicol to take tourists to the crater so make sure that you avail of the services of a guide who is a member of the association.
One person that I totally trust to deliver a superb work on this one is Bayron Cepria. I haven’t personally taken the tour but I have talked with a lot of tourists in our resort who have been to the crater and who strongly recommend Bayron for being a good guide. The guests I have talked with swears the climb to Mayon can get hard at times but it’s nothing once you get to the top. Expect to feel a different sense of accomplishment as not a lot of people can really say they have literally conquered the world’s near-perfect cone.
Mayon Volcano towers at 2,426 meters above sea level, and the association uses a newly discovered trail that takes off from San Roque in the town of Malilipot in Albay. The previous trail had its base in Santo Domingo, Albay.
According to Bayron, the tour usually takes two days if it involves seasoned mountaineers and trekkers but extends to three days when “ordinary tourists (that is, those with little experience on trekking)” are part of the tour. The challenge should not intimidate non-seasoned mountaineers as the guides are around to help them with the climb. The association offers a climb package that includes everything from food for the 2-3 day climb, ropes, tents, sleeping mattresses, and other camping paraphernalia. One tourist guide is assigned per one person plus two more persons who act as porters and secondary guides.
The climb usually starts at 5am or 6am of Day 1 that sees the climbers moving towards Camp 2 where they are going to spend the night. The forest trekking runs from five to six hours (and more depending on the pace of the guests). The trek takes you to some 1,200 meters.
Day 2 of the climb starts really early, usually at 4am. You get to see the sunrise at an elevated area, with the different islands surrounding Albay in sight.
From Camp 2 up until the 2,000 meters mark, there’s very little vegetation in the area and one has to climb wide lava. These are really smooth lava formations that have become solid through time and can get slippery when it’s rainy.
But the view at this point certainly gets better.
And the climb, harder. Remember that at this point, you are conquering the part of Mayon that is made of hard volcanic rocks and sand, the climb can get really tricky. This is the part, says Bayron, that is considered a technical area where guests might see the need to use ropes as they continue with the trek.
But the punishing climb is worth it, since you do not just ascent up until the collapsed crater, you really make it to the top! And with the mouth of the volcano fuming smokes on the side, this is romancing the beautiful Mayon on a different, enviable level! For inquires regarding the climb to Mayon, contact Bayron Cepria (+639294657529 / +639179994716).
Mayon’s beauty is really mystifying and intriguing. While she is always beautiful to look at, she also challenges you to further appreciate her by going out of your comfort zone. However you choose to conquer her, you are set to admire Mayon over and over again.
Hey, let me know of your Mayon conquer soon! Love and light, everyone. Go, juanderlust! 😀
- All Mayon climb photos courtesy of different travelers I’ve met at Amor Farm Beach Resort in Donsol.
- Except for the aerial shot of Mayon which was taken with a Sony T90 digital camera, all the other Mayon photographs were taken with a Canon 550d.