Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Making my best friend eat mud and water with this maneuver

M Y   N E E D



Friends know me to be eager in trying anything once. In the case of riding an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), I had to take another shot at it just because the first time I had one in Albay for the Bicol Adventure ATV was so much fun. It was crazy exhilarating! For this, I took with me five more fellow travel bloggers to experience the joy ride and convoy.

Capas ATV Adventure

I've learned since traveling the rest of mainland Luzon that memories are priceless. There's no price tag to making them. Have none and you won't have anything to motivate you to move forward in life. Have a lot of it and you just become more appreciative of life, nature, and the locals that you meet along the way. Obstacles become challenges. Difficulties become conquests. In Tarlac's Capas ATV Adventure, I fed my craving for excitement, my thirst for the outdoors, and my love for exploration.

Life at Tambo Lake
A 20-minute break at the lake site
With my best friend and Contributing Photographer Josua Chan

The Pinatubo Lahar Terrain

Capas ATV Adventure is known for its sprawling Pinatubo lahar trail. It's the only ATV touring facility to operate in the area. It was also the site where the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century happened. The year was 1991 and it was 55 miles northwest of the capital city of Manila.

When I saw it for myself, I thought that it was rather easy for being flat, but I was wrong. Hidden by the vastness of the trail was the uneven terrain. Under flowing water and numerous brooks was the un-groomed playground for speeding up beyond sudden jolts. As a matter of fact, one member of our convoy got stuck in the mud. Fortunately, it didn't need any dramatic winching. The second guide (local) who always travels with the chief guide (originally trained in Albay) was enough help to remove the rider from getting stuck.

With fellow riders Edgar, Mervin, and Ramil
Tambo Lake Trail

Our chosen trail was the two-hour Tambo Lake Trail (aptly named after the tambo plant which were harvested by locals in the area before the Mount Pinatubo eruption). We could've extended an hour more for a visit of Maruglo Falls but since the weather earlier that day was not nice, the river got a bit deeper than the usual depth. We had to bail out of that side trip and cut short our total covered distance to 18 kilometers. Co-owner and operator Taikee Calleja shared that some guests would even spend extra minutes at the waterfalls site for lunch or merienda. It was definitely an additional experience that I missed doing.

Non-bike Rider

Some of the members of our convoy can drive cars. I, however, can't even ride a bike to save my life. As I successfully tackled the Mayon Volcano green lava trail in Albay on an ATV, so did I tackle this one in Capas. The 500cc-engine vehicle was superb. It was easy to maneuver as it had options for 2-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive. Add to that, a differential lock for moments when you're recklessly revving up for speed and being clueless about the mud.

Convoy of seven (including the chief guide)

Our Bicol-trained Chief Guide

Playground For Adventure

My group of friends did not worry in the first few minutes of the trail as we were all coached first for necessary training. We underwent a 5 to 10-minute briefing by our guide to familiarize ourselves with the vehicle before heading out. It was imperative that we automatically follow the convoy line at a distance of at least 4 meters and only veer from it when advised to do so which happened in the middle part of the trail. I remember tackling countless of imaginary lanes to my contributing photographer Josua Chan's nervousness. I had to play around anyway and I successfully made him eat mud and rainwater over the many times of overtaking him on his route. We did not worry about getting dirty because we were provided goggles for the eyes. No need for gloves but we had to wear protective helmets as our safety was paramount.

A brief stop for picture-taking
Crucial Tips

If you don't mind getting wet, you can wear shorts or sleeveless shirts. Otherwise, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. I wouldn't advice what I wore during my ride -- a pair of crocs. Make sure you bring a sturdy footwear with you. Capas ATV Adventure recommends driving within one's limits, so you are in charge of yourself as much as the guide is in charge of you. A strong presence of mind is necessary during the whole ride.

A local on an afternoon errand

Rugged and Dirty For Speed

According to Jeni Calleja, co-owner of the touring facility, it's the dirty and water-plunging experience that lure most of their foreigner clients to Capas ATV Adventure. Most of them are tourists from Europe and a few Americans.

For me, after tackling the quite difficult trail of the Mayon green lava trail, I consider the Mount Pinatubo lahar trail to be a delight in speed. The only video games I play are race car-oriented ones. Why settle for a virtual game when I could experience the real thing?

Pleasant Scenery

The good thing about the ATV ride in Capas were the moments of pulling over for photo opportunities of young agtas or aetas who continue to live in the vegetated outskirts of the area. There were also breathtaking sights of hills and a distant mountain range.

A young agta or aeta with his tirador
It was amazing to see my fellow riders slowly have fun after 10 to 15 minutes of continuous journey. They got dirty as I did. They also tried to overtake me a couple of times or more.

Adventure Destination

There is truly more to Tarlac than just historical museums. It's no longer just the transit spot for travelers to and from the North and Metro Manila. I was grateful that my official luxury hotel base for this "I Love Tarlac!" Blog Series Tour, Microtel Suites and Inn By Wyndham-Luisita, was accommodating enough to drive us on its shuttle to and from the ATV site.

Watch a video of my ATV convoy at the Mount Pinatubo Lahar Trail:

Watch a video of my ATV convoy reaching Tambo Lake:

For those on a budget, you can try the backpacker-friendly Bognot Homestay which I will write about soon. It will serve travelers well also as it's the closest accommodation from the adventure site.

Try anything once. Better yet, try something for the second time. It's going to be a lot better.

Photography by Josua Chan and Karl Ace

Capas ATV Adventure

Address: Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac, Philippines
Phone: +63922-868-2589/ +63917-571-4357
Hours of Operation: Monday-Sunday, 5:00am-5:00pm

More Photos Below:


  1. Seems like you guys had a lot of fun!

    1. Yeah. Capas ATV Adventure's best for speeding!

  2. Sounds fun and awesome. I dont mind getting dirty hahaha. Now i wanted to try it.What else can we do in Tarlac? And where can we stay also? Thanks. Please reply.

    1. Try the Bognot Homestay which is nearer to the Capas ATV Adventure site, Cha. Thanks!

  3. Need po ba magpabook or reserve? Thanks!


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