The Philippines is ideal for horsing around in the water or the countryside, and Legazpi offers two distinct options. The first is renting an ATV to see the lava flow from the perfectly cone-shaped Mt. Mayon volcano, and the other is splashing about with large, gentle whale sharks, whose pattern I’d like on a nice day dress. Anyway, both options are affordable, tons of fun and a perfect excuse for a long weekend in the Philippines!
Mt. Mayon and ATV-ing
The amusingly named Your Brother Travel and Tours provides ATV rides up to the 2009 lava flow and a 300-meter long zipline. The guide provides gloves, a mask and a helmet, and after signing the waiver, lets you take a few practice laps around the grounds to get your bearings. On the way up, you might get wet and you’ll definitely accumulate dust, so dress appropriately. This means clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, sneakers/closed toe shoes, and put your hair up! The ride goes through a small village, where many will come out to say hello, and then up to the 2009 lava flow. The lava flow provides a clear view of Mt. Mayon but is still quite far from the volcano; you definitely won’t be standing at the base.
The guides are friendly and knowledgeable about the local history and area, and will take photos of you along the way. The zipline, while long, is not terribly high. On the way back, our guide encouraged us to kick the ATV into high gear, and when we got back about an hour later, let us take the much bigger versions for a spin. We thought that was the end of the day, but we were treated to a trip up Lingon Hill and an additional two ziplines, which were shorter but much steeper, on the Hill. The total for the day was less than US$100 for two of us, which included the taxi.
Whale Shark Watching
The next day, we left the hotel at 7am for an hour-long drive to neighboring Donsol for a day tour with Whaleshark Adventure and Tours (the whale shark spotting season is from November to June). The one day tour includes the boat rental, guide, snorkeling gear, registration, transportation, a towel, drinks and snacks, and lunch. We were lucky to have the boat to ourselves. If you wear a bikini, you’ll get stared at by the young four-person crew, but on a more positive note, they were very nice, talkative and willing to answer all our questions.
Since we paid upfront, I didn’t bring anything with me except sunscreen, clothes and a bit of money for tips. We saw two whale sharks – one we had to ourselves, another we had to share with another, bigger tour group. After it became clear that we probably wouldn’t see another, we went over to a nearby reef and splashed about – beware the tons of mini jellyfish, though.The total was around $120 for two people.
Have you done these tours? Do you have any other suggestions?