Spice up your Albay adventure
MANILA, Philippines - One of the most recognizable tourism landmarks in the country is Mayon Volcano with the ruins of Cagsawa Church in the foreground.
Mayon’s perfect cone remains the major landmark of the province of Albay in the Bicol region.
In fact, enterprising children and guides in Cagsaua Ruins Park have mastered the art of taking trick shots of tourists "leaning on" or "holding" the ruins in front of the volcano.
But beyond getting the requisite photo op and shopping for abaca and pili nut products, there’s a host of other exciting activities you can do in Albay.
Spice up your next trip to the province with these adventure-filled activities:
1) Drive an ATV to the lava wall
While she may be a great beauty to look at from afar, Mayon Volcano’s trails can pose a real challenge to outdoor enthusiasts up close.
Drive through 18 km of boulder-strewn terrain, volcanic dirt roads and small streams aboard an all-terrain vehicle.
Rev up an ATV and drive all the way to the wall of volcanic debris that was formed from the confluence of a mudslide and volcanic eruption in 2006 at the foothills of Mayon.
Then, climb up the jagged rocks leading up to a helipad to get a closer view of the majestic volcano’s near perfect cone.
ATV and 4x4 rentals cost Php1,800 to Php3,500 (depending on the model of your vehicle) for the whole two-hour long tour.
There’s also a short zipline from the volcanic wall heading down to the starting point of the trek.
2) Head to Lignon Hill
By day, Ligñon Hill offers a slew of thrilling activities such as hiking, airsoft, paintball, climbing, rappelling, crossing on a thin hanging bridge or zipping down two zip lines, all with a scenic view of Mt. Mayon.
Zipline rides cost Php250 to Php350 (basic/advanced) while crossing the hanging bridge costs Php100.
For an even bigger thrill, try the zipline spiderman-style — zip through the scenery upside down.
From Lignon Hill’s viewdeck, visitors can also get a great panoramic 360-degree view of Legazpi City and the surrounding vistas of Daraga, Albay Gulf and the Mayon Volcano.
While it’s best to try the activities in the morning before it gets too hot, it’s also worth climbing up back the hill at night to get a stunning view of the cityscape’s lights.
3) Hike to the waterfalls
Albay is home to many natural wonders including caves, natural springs, black-sand beaches and waterfalls.
Because of its accessibility, Busay Falls in the town of Malilipot is a popular day trip destination and swimming hole for locals.
However, aside from the small and shallow pool beneath the 40m-high cascade of the lowest waterfall where most locals take a dip, Busay actually has 7 cascades.
A short hike through a steep footpath will lead visitors a smaller and more secluded waterfall with clearer pools, while more effort is needed if you want to visit all 7 falls. Local tourism officers say that it’s best to hire a local guide since some of the trails are extremely difficult to navigate.
The entrance fee for Busay Falls (lowest falls) costs a mere Php10.00/head.
4) Hang out at Embarcadero
Dubbed Legazpi’s new lifestyle hub, the Embarcadero by the Legazpi City harbor is a premiere mall and shopping center that also offers a host of dining places and adventure activities ideal for those traveling with younger children and teens.
Aside from having an arcade and huge playground for kids in the middle of the mall, Embarcadero also offers go-kart rides and another zipline — this time, over the water.
The nearby scenic boulevard is ideal for jogging and the management is exploring offering more recreational watersports in the area.
If you’re hungry after all those activities, head to Gilian’s Sea Wharf for great Filipino favorites and seafood specialties.
Meanwhile, Ellis Ecotel — conveniently located inside the mall — is a good hotel choice for tourists looking for a place to crash not too far from the city.
5) Go on a food trip on fusion cuisine
Bicolano cuisine is known for its distinctive use of spicy and sweet flavors.
Dishes that make use of sili (chili peppers), gata (coconut milk), gabi (taro leaves) and pili nuts are mainstays.
If you’re adventurous when it comes to food, check out several restaurants in the province that offer interesting fusion fare incorporating favorite Bicolano dishes:
- First Colonial Grill (Old Albay District on Rizal Street) offers servings of the famed Sili Ice Cream, Pili Ice Cream and Malunggay Ice Cream (P79.00), among others
- Small Talk Café (#51 Dona Aurora Street, Legazpi City) serves Bicolano Pizza (a blend of pinangat, mozzarella cheese and pineapple chunks) and pasta dishes topped with Bicol Express and pinangat
- Balay Cena Una (F. Lotivo St. Bagumbayan, Daraga) is a heritage restaurant if you prefer fine dining. Some of the restaurant's delicious fusion dishes include pinangat (or laing)-inspired pasta and Butterflied King Prawns in tilmok sauce swimming in creamy coconut milk sauce flavored with saffron.
Aside from all these adventure-filled activities, visitors can learn more about the history and culture of the province by visiting the centuries-old churches, museums or by taking part in the different fiestas around the province. - Rappler.com
Visit the author’s blog Travel Up at www.traveling-up.com.