Taal Knowledge Tours: Hike, Bike, and Kayak to Help Preserve Nature
The viewing deck on top of Volcano Island boasts scenic views of the Taal Volcano Crater. Volcano Island is accessible via a boat ride and a thirty-minute hike from the PUSOD Taal Lake Conservation Center.
When you want to trade tall-buildings for fresh country air, the Taal Lake area—including the Volcano Island, lake water and peripheries—can offer a refreshing respite for the city-weary.
But beyond the obvious weekend spots which peddle eats and sights around the Taal Lake, organizations are also working hard to ensure the area remains tourist-worthy. One of them is PUSOD, Inc., environmental non-profit organization based in Lipa City actively involved in ensuring that the Taal Volcano Protected Land (TVPL) management plan is being implemented.
Hike or go on horseback—the short trek to the top of Volcano Island rewards one with Taal Lake views.
"The TVPL management plan is the blueprint of what should be done to keep the protected area waste-free. We work with like-minded organizations such as Globe who support us in our conservation work. Globe supported the E-governance program, which began in November 2011, by providing information and communication technology (ICT) platforms and tools to aid us in environment conservation. Through text advisories to fisher folk and stakeholders, we are able to help maintain the water quality of the lake and keep it and its peripheries solid waste-free," shared Ipat Luna, board member of PUSOD Inc.
The TVPL area spans thirteen municipalities and three cities and is also a source of livelihood for around 2,000 fisher folk and their families. Added Luna: "The technology-led solution or E-governance program also informs fisher folks and other stakeholders about the water quality and other danger signs of possible fish kill and empowers them to make the right decisions regarding their harvest and other planned activities."
Kayaking allows you to enjoy the placid Taal Lake.
According to Yoly Crisanto, Head for Globe Corporate Communications: "Our partnership with PUSOD on the protection of Taal Lake and its environs not only reinforces our commitment to environmental conservation and preservation but also serves as the anchor program for our community of practice in Batangas wherein the different advocacies of Globe are represented. From this, we are able to drive sustainable tourism and help provide livelihood opportunities through tour guide training, ensure good governance by empowering barangay officials, and give access to information via the TxtConnect facility."
Sustainable Tourism: Going Beyond Conservation Work
While conservation work and collaboration among stakeholders and residents are ongoing, PUSOD also thinks it's time to develop tourism products which will showcase recreational activities on Volcano Island, thus the creation of the Taal Volcano Protected Landscape (TVPL) Knowledge Tours.
"We've trained our Knowledge Tour guides on the history, geology, biological resources and conservation plans and programs for Taal Volcano Protected Landscape so visitors can get a wholistic view and appreciation for the area. The guides are also trained on basic first aid as well," shared Luna.
PUSOD hopes to professionalize the tourism experience in the area through the TVPL Knowledge Tours. More importantly, communities in the area have additional sources of livelihood as well as funding to support the continued implementation of the TVPL management plan.
Hike, Paddle, or Bike for Nature
The PUSOD Taal Lake Conservation Center, located in Mataas na Kahoy, Batangas, is a jump-off point for several half-day adventures: choose to bike through the terrains of Malvar, Balete, Lipa City, and Mataas na Kahoy or take a 30-minute boat ride towards the Volcano Island with tour guides trained by heritage ambassador, performance artist and tour guide Carlos Celdran. You may choose to reach the top of Volcano Island via horseback or take the 30-minute trek on foot—either way, the scenic views of the Taal Lake crater will make the leisurely uphill hike to the community-built viewing deck worth it.
Kayaks are also available for use: depending on the lake's moods, glide over the placid lake or battle Taal's waves and paddle against the wind. "It's really all about appreciating and seeing firsthand what we're trying to conserve—and that is the beauty of the Taal Volcano Protected Land area—and being able to enjoy leisure activities around the area which are not destructive and conform to the TVPL management plan," enthused Luna.
Entrance fees to the PUSOD Taal Lake Conservation Center are only P50 while packages for hiking, kayaking, and biking are also available.