Archive for Mountains & Volcanoes

Feb
04

Mt. Taal – A Complex Volcano

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Taal Volcano is said to be the smallest active volcano in the world. It is located in Batangas, southern part of Luzon in the Philippines and at about 50-km away from the capital, Manila. It is a composed of a small volcanic island (Volcano Island), which has been the site of almost all historic activity. The island is called “pulo” (or islet) by the locals. Taal Volcano is surrounded by a freshwater lake formerly known to the local as Lake Bonbon (now called Taal Lake).

Just within the island, there are four craters including the main crater which is in the center of the island. The other dormant crater can be seen at the edge of the island. While the third and fourth craters called the “Twin Craters”, were formed during the 1965 eruption.

But what makes this volcano unique that grabs attention to visitors, is that right in the middle of its main crater holds a sulfuric lake which is called the “Crater Lake”. This is its main attraction. It is also the world’s largest lake on an island in a lake on an island and it also has its own small island, Vulcanic Point.

You can even swim inside its crater but not for long cause the water is composed of a much diluted form of sulfuric acid with high concentration of boron, magnesium, aluminum and sodium in salt form. The first recorded scuba dive inside the main crater was on 1986 by a team led by Thomas Hargrove. The dive was about 20 meters or 60 meters deep. Another thing that caught the team’s attention is the tiny island in the Crater Lake by which they explored.

The Taal Lake

The lake surrounding Taal Volcano was once just an arm of Baylan Bay. But then Taal Lake’s sole connection to the sea narrowed down into its sole draining river, the Pansipit River, after a series of major eruption during the 18th century. Then several centuries of precipitation also affected the water, diluting the lake once-saline waters into pure freshwater.

Eruption also affected the original landmark around the lake. It has buried numerous lakeside towns by volcanic ash and submerged by rising lake waters. Originally, the towns like Lipa, Taal, Bauan and Tanauan were formerly located along Taal Lake but now, only three of them remained. However, today, you can still see the remnants of the old lakeside towns like the buildings and walls seen under the lake’s waters.

Tourism

The main attraction of the island is its Crater Lake. The Crater Lake resort is located one boat away from the shores of Talisay, Batangas. For those who love adventures, they have a unique thrill of exploring nature and experiencing the attractions of Taal Volcano. You can enjoy lots of activities on the island like horseback riding going to the crater, trekking, and camping. And during the trip up and the down the mountain, the visitors got the chance to witness the stunning view of the lake and its surroundings. Other island activities include:

• Bird-watching
• Sight-seeing
• Fishing
• RC plane flying, boating
• Kite flying • Photography
• Picnic family outings
• Company outings
• Seminars team building
• Cultural shows

The Taal Lake also conveys interests from visitors as most island activities are done here. And because the lake is also connected to the sea, it became a home for many endemic species that have evolved and have already adapted to the desalination of the lake’s waters.

The world’s only freshwater sardine called “tawilis” is the most popular endemic species of the lake. Other species living in the lake are the trevally (Caranx ignobilis) or locally called mapulito. These fish are also found in the Pansipit River.

Indeed, Taal Volcano offers just the best adventure packed with dramatic scenery. You can even get close to nature for those who would want an escape the busy and polluted city. The island is a great place to unwind and to enjoy the cool breeze of fresh island air while spending time with your friends and family.

Feb
04

Mt. Apo – An Extraordinary Mountain

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Mount Apo is the highest mountain in the country located between the provinces of Davao del Sur and North Cotabato in Mindanao, Philippines. This volcanic mountain measures at about 3, 143.6 above sea level. The name “Apo” means grandchild.

Mount Apo is flat-topped with three peaks and has been declared a national park. The Mount Apo National Park covers a land area of 64,053 hectares. The peaks are capped by a 500-meter-wide (1,600 ft.) volcanic crater containing a small crater lake. The peak appears to be white due to a crust of sulfur that is released in the mountain emissions. It is also a source of geothermal energy with at least two geothermal plants located on it. However, the date of its most recent eruption is unknown. And so far, none is even verified in historical times.

It is a large potentially active stratovolcano with five distinct forest formations inhibited by hundreds of different endemic animal species. These formations include lowland, low montane, high montane and summit or scrub forest. It is one of the most ecologically rich mountains in the region. It is because of the diversity of its landscape with the influence of the climate, soil, rock formations, slant and drainage. There are different types of plants growing on the mountain.

Plant and Animal Life

There are hundreds of endemic species of plants, including rare and endangered species found on Mt. Apo. In a segment between 300 to 1000 meters above sea level, about 800 different endemic plants have been identified as growing on the mountain’s slopes. These include the rare lauan and the endangered almaciga. Of about 18 threatened species of flowers, including the waling-waling orchid, are seen while trekking on the mountain. You may also notice Lake Venado, which is 19 kilometers up to its slope.

Plants are not the only occupants in Mt. Apo. Its forests are also nested with various species of endemic animals. That comprises 227 vertebrate species including amphibians, reptiles and mammals. Butterflies also inhibit the mountain; of about 118 species have been documented in the area. It also served as a home to 272 species of birds, of which 40% or 111 are endemic to Mt. Apo and two endemic birds are already considered endangered. It includes the Philippine eagle or also known as the Great Philippine Eagle (Monkey-eating Eagle). It is among the tallest, rarest, largest and most powerful birds in the world. It is called “banog” by the locals. Another endangered bird is the abukay or Philippine coockatoo.

The Climb

Despite its height, Mount Apo is one of the most popular climbing destinations in the Philippines for its summit is considered easy to reach. October 10, 1880 marked the first recorded climb, by a party led by Don Joaquin Rajal.

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