Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday, July 16, 2014



T O  T H E


I had been curious to tread the 6 kilometer permanent danger zone of Mayon Volcano’s perimeter for the past two years since I first visited Albay in 2012. From reading about the perfect cone-shaped majesty of Bicol in grade school textbooks, I managed to see it up close from various vantage points in Legazpi City’s Lignon Hill and the Embarcadero, Cagsawa’s famous ruins, Daraga’s old church and Ligao City’s sunflower farm. Little did I know that I would have the chance to ride an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) onto the Mayon lava trail and reach its vegetated summit where the province is visible in numerous points.

An Adventure In Albay

Aboard Bicol Adventure ATV’s CFMoto Terralander 500, I was led with my correspondent photographer by tour expert Lhanz Asuncion and his assistant to experience the so-called green lava trail. It’s a full 16-kilometer trail that commenced at Barangay Busay's Cagsawa Ruins, plying the rugged quarry-filled terrain along the 1968-produced lava wall with uphill and downhill slopes, past the permanent danger zone through the eerie forest, up the 2,500-3,000-feet verdant summit and back.

Safety First

The adventure ride was one about safety as it was essential for us to read and sign a waiver. I remember myself to be in good shape even after being hospitalized six months ago for frontal sinusitis. I was still on recovery phase. The experience offered me the chance of an exciting therapy that let me flex my muscles and breathe fresh air. I sincerely thought I wouldn’t be able to walk again due to specific complications during my hospitalization but there I was with a helmet on my head and feeling extremely giddy over the 30-minute training route for someone who didn’t know how to ride a bike.

Off-road Exploration Tips

 I still don’t know how to even after the ATV ride by the way, but that’s because anybody can share in the experience as long as all the safety rules are heeded. Lhanz repeatedly reminded  us to keep a safe distance of at least 2 meters from each other’s vehicle. He also stressed for us not to go crazy on the speed even with the off-road vehicle of maneu-verability's capability to hit marks of up to 82kmph. Most importantly, he stressed to never panic when tackling a steep uphill or downhill slope maneuver to avoid the vehicles from toppling over ourselves or tilting sideways unnecessarily.The vehicle was easy to maneuver as the tires were of wide gross-section and it was designed for woods patrol and off-road exploration.

Volcanic rocks at the trail

The Green Lava Trail

Cathy, a good friend of mine recommended the adventure ride over another similar tour because she thought that Bicol Adventure ATV has a more extensive trail. And she was right. With the green lava trail allowing us the chance to travel through a few barangays and a desolate danger zone, the experience was a radical ride of the past and present. We had necessary 3-5 minute stopovers at interesting sites like an old and abandoned neighborhood church, a breezy bamboo-paved trail, the middle of the lava trail for picking scrub-worthy volcanic stones, a short distance from the trail summit with a breathtaking view of Legazpi City and Camalig’s famous hills and the culminating peak where the famous climber’s knife-edge was quite visible. 

Tour expert Lhanz Asuncion
Our guide was also able to pinpoint with his finger the spot on the volcano where the recently-dubbed Zach Efron trail could be found. According to him, it was where the Hollywood actor was dropped from a helicopter to ply a crazy and steep ATV trail.

Lingering At The Summit

We reached the vegetated summit after two hours and were fortunate to be welcomed by Mayon in all her glory, cone shape and all. However, an international TV crew that preceded our climb had the misfortune of missing the spectacle.

The wisps of distinct cloud near the crater proved to be charming for photos as if to say that the volcano was in her admirer’s sweet embrace, proving the Bicolano folklore of Panganoron was true. And since our entourage was the last one scheduled for that day, we had the chance to linger in the area beyond the usual time imposed on riders.

We were advised to try the ride next time as early as 6:00am so as to catch the wonderful sunrise and be less at the mercy of the daytime heat. As for the dust, splashes of brook water, and mud, there wasn’t anything that we could do about them except to enjoy them for all their worth – proof of adventure.

Check out this video of our wild ride:

Photography by Josua Chan and Karl Ace

H E L P F U L   L I N K

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Bicol Adventure ATV
Phone: (Globe) 0917-5714357 (SUN) 0922-8682589 

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