Bicol Adventure ATV (Daraga, Albay)

From the Cagsawa Ruins, we again boarded our van for the short drive to the Bicol Adventure ATV compound where we were to experience the thrill of riding an all-terrain vehicle towards the Lava Wall of Mt. Mayon, the world’s most perfect coned volcano.  I have seen the beauty of the Mayon Volcano only from the fringes of Legaspi City and Tabaco City and towns of Camalig, Daraga, Malilipot and Sto. Domingo but, today, we were to appreciate its beauty up close via this more thrilling option.

Bicol Adventure ATV compound

Bicol Adventure ATV compound

The units available for our use are 150cc, 500cc (CFMoto Terralander 500) and 625 side by side variants. Virtually no prior experience on riding four wheeled ATVs is required. Everything is on the right handle – press a ledge to accelerate and retract another to brake.  The engine doesn’t turn off, even at full stop. However, we were all given a short briefing on the safety rules that have to be heeded:

Single passenger ATVs

Single passenger ATVs

  • A safe distance of at least 2 m. from each other’s vehicle must be maintained.
  • Never go crazy on the speed even with the off-road vehicle’s maneuverability’s capability to hit marks of up to 82kmph.
  • Never panic when tackling a steep uphill or downhill slope maneuver to avoid the ATV from toppling over yourselves or tilting sideways unnecessarily.
ATVs being readied

ATVs being readied

Then, we donned our helmets and were allowed a 5-10-min. practice ride on a mock trail along a rocky river track to allow first timers to get used to the ignition, throttle, brakes and direction.

The mock trail

The mock trail

The ATV was easy to maneuver as the tires were of a wide cross-section and it was designed for woods patrol and off-road exploration. It’s pretty stable too, unless you hit on a big rock.

The author trying out the ATV on a mock trail

The author trying out the ATV on a mock trail

Still, in the end, we all decided to let our guides drive our ATVs as we weren’t familiar with the trail and, with the sun now low in the sky, we were hoping to catch the sunset.

The author with his ATV guide and driver

The author with his ATV guide and driver

Together with our drivers, Lito and Euden and Star and Oliver rode in pairs while Ida, Leony and Nestor (who drove most of the way) where in a bigger ATV.  Boyet and I rode at the back of our respective drivers.

All geared up and ready to go ....

All geared up and ready to go ….

There are countless paths and trails that Mayon Volcano offers and the trail pathfinders of Bicol Adventure ATV are continuously looking for new sites to develop. One of the trails they developed is the challenging Green Lava Wall Trail.

Our ATV ride begins ......

Our ATV ride begins ……

The trail is a 7 km. (14 km. total trail) long river, sand and rock adventure challenge.  It would take us around 2.5-3 hours to and from the 1968 lava wall located 2,500-3,000 ft. above sea level in Brgy. Miisi, Daraga. We all rode on ATVs that are powerful enough to manage this trail. We left by 5 PM.

The Green Lava Trail

The Green Lava Wall Trail

Our ATV ride wasn’t short of excitement as we travelled a landscape dotted with big lava rocks ejected by the explosion of Mayon Volcano more than 100 years ago. From the bleak gray, the scenery turned green as we entered and drove through a forest.

Bicol Adventure ATV (29)

The trees that surrounded us were a welcome relief from the heat and the breeze was cooler. The forest trail, however, produced more dust. The last part of the trail was the uphill climb to the Green Lava Wall along a much narrower and bumpier road with plenty of sharp curves.

The gully created by Mayon's lava flow

The gully created by Mayon’s lava flow

By 5:45 PM, we reached the end of the trail, the now vegetated bed of lava that Mayon Volcano spewed during its 1968 eruption. When we alighted and saw ourselves, we all looked like we came out of a coal mine.  The now cloud-free summit of Mayon Volcano can be clearly seen, something Euden (a first-time visitor to Albay who was leaving for Manila the next day) had failed to see during the past two days.

The media group with the now cloud-free Mt. Mayon in the background

The media group with the now cloud-free Mt. Mayon in the background

From this vantage point, we had an exhilarating view of Albay Gulf, Misibis Bay, Legazpi City, the 3rd district of Albay in the west and, in the distance, the peak of Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon.  While enjoying the very cool wind, we also saw the dramatic sunset we were hoping for.  What more can you ask for?

The dramatic sunset

The dramatic sunset

The return drive, even if it was now downhill, was no less shorter as we had maneuver carefully down the trail.  Besides, darkness now set in and, with headlights on, we had to be on the lookout for large rocks.  It was almost 7 PM when we arrived at our starting point and, with great relief, we wash away the dust, mud and grime from our skin and hair – all proof of our great adventure.

The return drive begins - cautiously .....

The return drive begins – cautiously …..

The Bicol Adventure ATV was a truly unforgettable experience, enjoying the thrill of the ATV ride, with all its bumps and curves and, upon arrival at the Lava Wall, enjoying a quiet moment as we viewed the perfect cone of Mayon and dramatic sunset and felt the cool breeze touching our skin.

A vehicle to a great adventure ......

A vehicle to a great adventure ……

Bicol Adventure ATV: Belfry – Cagsawa Church Ruins, Daraga, 4500 Albay.  Mobile number: (0917) 571-4357 (Globe) and (0922) 868-2589 (Sun). E-mail: taikee@bicoladventureatv.com.  Website: www.bicoladventureatv.com.

Rates:

Green Lava Wall Trail–PhP1,500 (2.5hours)
Cagsawa Trail–PhP599 (45mins.)
Hoyop Hoyopan Cave–PhP2,000 (3.5hours)
Cagsawa to Lava Front–PhP1,850 (3hours)
Trial Ride–PhP110 (15mins.)

A Fun-Filled, Family Day in Corregidor

After breakfast at La Playa Restaurant, we all weighed the activity options available for us on the island and they had quite a few – ziplining, ATV (All-Terrain Vehicles), swimming (beach or swimming pool), hiking and sea kayaking.  We opted to try the first two. A ride at the ROCKet Zipline, a first for everyone except me (I’ve tried it twice before in previous visits to the island) would set us back PhP100 each. The zipline system actually originated in Europe and and was used to cross mountain ranges.

Jandy and I donning our gear

Jandy and I donning our gear

We proceeded to the zipline’s jump-off point, 40-ft. high, amphitheater-like ravine just outside the Corregidor Inn. I took first crack at it, donning a seat harness which was strapped around the waist and thighs, then was clipped into a double-pulley system with a backup line. Once suited up, I walked to the edge where I stood on a raised platform then was unceremoniously shoved down  the 655-ft. long free-fall cable line.

Ready, get set  ........

Ready, get set ……..

Go .........!!!!!!!

Go ………!!!!!!!

Propelled by gravity, I literally flew through the air, so to speak, as I sped past nearby trees, spreading my arms wide and turning around to face the sea, as I was cheered on by my family.  Near the end, 2 brakes slow down your travel as I approached the 16-ft. high receiving platform at South Beach where a guide assisted me in getting off the zip-line system.

Grace

Grace

Marve

Marve

Cheska

Cheska

Then it was Grace’s turn to try out this  25-second adrenaline rush which traversed just about half of the narrowest point of the island.   She was followed by Marve, Cheska and, lastly, Jandy. Truly a nice, first-time experience for all of them.  I wished it were a longer ride but this was not possible, as I would end up in the sea.

Marve, Kyle and Cheska on their ATVs

Marve, Kyle and Cheska on their ATVs

And they're off .....!!!!!

And they’re off …..!!!!!

It just so happened that the receiving platform at South Beach was conveniently located beside the parking area for the ATVs.  There were 10 4-wheeled, off-road ATVs for us to rent (at PhP500/hr. or PhP300 for 30 mins.).  We picked out two ATVs and Cheska and Marve took first crack at it.  But first, they had to don helmets, knee guards and elbow guards plus listen to our guide as he instructed us on how to use it.

Grace

Grace

Marve

Marve

Soon, both were off to the man-made, winding and bumpy dirt track especially blazed through the grassy field for that purpose.  Grace took over from Cheska followed by Jandy while  I took over from Marve.  It all fun, especially for Jandy who rode the longest.  It was my second time to ride an ATV, but I was still wary driving it over rocks, thinking I would topple over.

Jandy

Jandy

Cheska

Cheska

We soon had our fill after nearly an hour and we were already hungry, so we hied off back to La Playa Restaurant where we had a very late lunch.

Sun Cruises, Inc. (SCI) – Reservation Office: CCP Terminal A, CCP Complex, Roxas Blvd., Manila.  Tel: (632) 831-8140 and (632) 834-6857 to 58.  Fax: (632) 834-1523.  E-mail: suncruises@magsaysay.com.ph.

Sun Cruises, Inc. (SCI) – Sales Office: 21/F,  Times Plaza Bldg., Ermita, Manila.  Tel: (632) 527-5555 local 4511 and 4512.  Fax: (632) 527-5555 local 4513.  E-mail: sales@suncruises.com.ph.

Lignon Hill (Legaspi City, Albay)

Mayon Volcano

After an early morning breakfast at Villa Isabel Hotel’s restaurant, I packed up for my trip back to Legaspi City  where I was to take the 1:20 PM Zest Air flight back to Manila.  Bernard stayed behind as he had other business to attend to in Sorsogon City.  I took a tricycle to the national highway where I boarded a Legaspi City-bound van which left by 8:30 AM.  I arrived at the Legaspi City Satellite Bus Terminal by 10 AM.  

Legaspi City Satellite Bus Terminal

Here, I was picked by Ms. Danica Pontejos, a staffer from Mr. Marti Calleja’s Bicol Adventures, and her driver.  As it was still early in the morning, I still had 2 hrs. to tour the city and Daraga town prior to being brought to the airport and Marti was kind enough to let me do so.   First in my itinerary was, fitfully, the Lignon (pronounced as lin-yon) Hill Nature Park, one of the city’s famous landmarks and the highest location in the downtown area.  The trip up the paved zigzag road of the 156-m. high hill took less than 10 mins. (the hike up takes 45 mins. to an hour).

Lignon Hill Nature Park

For years, the hill was known for its PHIVOLCS observatory at its southwestern slope and the old lighthouse at its summit.  Today, it is known for its view deck where I had a panoramic, 360-degree view of Legaspi City (and its airport runway, 11 kms. southeast of the volcano’s summit), Daraga and Albay Gulf.  Best of all, as it was early in the morning (the best time to visit), I had a spectacular view of the world famous Mayon Volcano and its breathtaking perfect cone in all its naked glory. During my first visit to the city almost 7 years ago (http://firingyourimagination.blogspot.com/2005/07/albay-mayon-volcano.html), my afternoon view of the volcano was shielded by swirling clouds. In the late afternoon, you can watch the sunset and, in the evening, the city lights of Legaspi.

Aerial View of Legaspi City

For sightseers and guests, the hill also has a landscaped promenade with restaurants and shops.  For the adventurous, there’s also a 320-m. long zip line where one can soar through the air harnessed to a cable.  Other adventure activities and extreme sports offered include hiking, mountain biking (on the gullies at the foot of Mt. Mayon), rappelling 150 ft. down, paintball, riding 4-wheel all terrain vehicles (ATVs, c/o Your Brother Travel and Tours) and, soon, airsoft.  You can also take the super steep route up the hill via the Kapit Tuko Trail or explore a 50 ft. long Japanese tunnel.

View of Airport Runway

Lignon Hill Nature Park: off Binitayan Rd. (behind Albay Park & Wildlife). Open daily, 8 AM-11 PM. Admission: PhP10 (educational tour rate) and PhP20 (foreign visitors and non-Albay residents), 5- 9 AM free of charge for regular joggers. Zipline off season rates: PhP250 (basic) and PhP350 (advanced – superman).  Rappelling rates: PhP200 (off season) and PhP250 (peak season).  
Your Brother Travel and Tours: ATV rates: PhP1,800/hour (150cc) and PhP2,500/hour (500cc or buggy). Tel: (052) 820-3629.  E-mail: yourbrothertravevandtours@yahoo.com.    

The Pugad (Pugo Adventure) Tour (Pugo, La Union)

Four-wheeled, all-terrain vehicles (ATV)

We were now in Lakbay Tour’s second day and, after an art-filled first day in Baguio City, we were now in for some adrenalin pumping adventure featuring zip lines (3 to be exact) with some all-terrain vehicle (ATV) excitement thrown in at Pugad Pugo Adventure Park in Pugo, La Union.   Pugad, “bird’s nest” in the vernacular, is actually a hybrid of the two words Pugo, the name of the town, and “adventure.” We alighted from our special Victory Liner tour bus (its body sticker-wrapped with the tour’s sponsors), at the Flying V (incidentally also a Lakbay Norte 2 tour sponsor) station along Marcos Highway in Brgy. Cares in Pugo and transferred to a smaller Pugad shuttle bus.  DOT Region 1 representatives Evangeline M. Dadat (senior tourism operations officer) and Reynaldo Gesmundo (tourism operations officer II) joined us.  After a 300 m. drive over a narrow road (unfit for our big bus), we finally arrived at the resort. Though this inland swimming resort has 2 crystal-clear outdoor swimming pools (adult and kiddie), picnic cottages, clean toilets, shower rooms, conference halls and a hanging bridge over a clean river, Pugad Resort  is more known for the extreme adventure it offers. Pugad’s famous 380-m. long and 240-ft. high Super Man Zip Line 1, one of the resort’s  three zip lines, stands out as the longest zip line in Luzon and is reportedly the second longest in the country.  Rates for the 3 zip lines is PhP900 per person or PhP1,000 if it includes wall climbing and breathtaking rappelling.This was too good to miss out.

Pugad Pugo Adventure Park

But first we had to wait in line as only five people can be accommodated at a time.  While waiting, we opted to try out out the  4-wheel, all-terrain vehicles and dune buggies at the nearby dirt track.  Unlike the zip line, this was a first for me and I drove cautiously over the winding and hilly but well-designed, 2.5-km. long course with its numerous bumps and turns, at one time falling into a ditch in spite of my caution.   My other companions confidently drove like seasoned racers. However, I soon speeded up midway round the course, only slowing down as I tackled the final 4-ft. high and steep hill back to our starting point.
 
Hannah Barrios finally enjoys Zip Line 3


This initial adrenalin rush now over, it was now time for some state-of-the-art zip lining. There were no more waiting lines as only three of us were left, the other two being Studio 23’s  Hannah Barrios and Joshua “Red” Nietes, both reluctant and scared first-timers. After filling up the necessary waiver forms, we were suited up with the necessary Petzl C29 Pandion harness and Petzl helmets for our safety then bundled into the back of a pickup truck, then driven up the cliff,  We then made a short hike, up a concrete stairs, to our first zip line—the Super Man Zip Line 1 (so named because we had to do it in a flying Superman pose), the highest and the longest in duration (30 seconds) of the three.

I tried it first, as Hannah and Red  were reluctant.  Soon I was harnessed parallel to the ground and on my way. It was everything it was hyped up to be, with picturesque views of a smooth flowing, boulder-strewn river, small rice terraces and lush, forested mountains. It was sometime before Red then Hannah took the plunge but, after having done so, liked it so much that they were both first at the succeeding 2 zip lines. The 280-m. long, 160-ft. high and less picturesque Zip Line 2, the fastest among the three (10 seconds with its 100-m. descent), and the 250-m. long, 60-ft. high and relaxing, 20 second long Zip Line 3, the basic and beginner’s zip line, were both done in the sitting position.  The last passes over the swimming pool and the river before ending at the campsite. It was starting to rain when I finished the last of the zip lines, making rappelling and wall climbing out of the question as the wall had become quite slippery. Besides, it was now time for lunch at the resort’s restaurant prepared by resort owners Eugene Martin, a retired police director, and his wife Pricilla, a Pugo councilor.  Heck out my Business Mirror article “Pugo’s 3 in 1 Adventure Tour.” 
 
Pugad Pugo Adventure Park: Sitio Kagaling, Brgy. Palina.  Mobile number (0927) 667-2619.  Tel: (072) 603-1592.  E-mail: pugoadventure@yahoo.com.