Active and potentially active volcanoes in the Philippines for your next hike.
The Philippines has got it all when it comes to natural formations. The country is blessed with thousands of islands, beaches, and mountains and hundreds of rivers, lakes, and volcanoes. Volcanoes alone are at about 400, 25 of which are active and potentially active.
Many of these volcanoes, despite their destructive eruptions in the past, continue to attract tourists due to their beauty, charm, and challenge. Taking a glimpse of those breathtakingly-beautiful crater sceneries or exploring just the foot is a different experience. It’s like unleashing the inner daredevil in you and finally facing this challenging journey.
If you are looking to spice up your life by taking on new challenges, why not hike these volcanoes in the Philippines?
1 | Mayon Volcano
View from Mount Mayon
Known for its “perfect cone”, Mayon boasts of its perfect symmetric conical shape. It is regarded as sacred in Philippine mythology and is home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna including the nearly-threatened Luzon Bleeding Heart and the critically-endangered Philippine cockatoo. It was declared a natural park in 2000 and is one of the protected areas in the region.
Mayon is considered the most active volcano in the country with more than 50 recorded eruptions in the past 500 years. Its eruption in 1814 is considered as the most destructive one which resulted in burning of trees and damaging of rivers as well as the areas surrounding the volcano. The Cagsawa Ruins, with only the church bell tower existing presently, is a prominent reminder of this unfortunate event.
Over the years, the grim remnants of the eruption gradually turned into lush greenery which makes for an amazing hiking destination. 4×4 and ATV tours are being offered by several operators in Legazpi and nearby towns. From the foot, tourists can also hike to the summit however, it is important that you are physically prepared for the challenge as the hike is considered difficult.
READ MORE: Mayon Volcano
2 | Taal Volcano
A view in Taal Volcano
Don’t judge this volcano by its size. Taal may be one of the lowest volcanoes in the world with just 311 meters elevation but it is recognized as the second most active volcano in the Philippines with 38 recorded historical eruptions. Some of the eruptions were so violent, displacing thousands of residents in nearby towns and cities. Overall, more than 5,000 lives were lost caused by the volcano due to scalding, injuries, or suffocation.
Despite the devastation caused by the eruptions, Taal remains one of the scenic natural attractions in the Philippines therefore earning the nickname “a beautiful disaster”.
In the past, tourists could take a boat to the volcano or hike up to the crater. But after the 2020 eruption, trekking to the crater is prohibited until as of this writing. Maybe someday when the volcano calms down, we can all explore this caldera volcano again. For now, you can admire the sight of this beauty from Tagaytay and other nearby areas.
READ MORE: Taal Volcano
3 | Mount Pinatubo
Hikers in Pinatubo Crater Lake
Mount Pinatubo rocked the world in 1991 when it erupted and caused severe damage to several infrastructure and agriculture, altered river systems, and claimed many lives. Thousands of locals (indigenous Aetas) inhabiting the dense forest covering the volcano have been displaced following the catastrophic eruption. The eruption was considered as the most destructive volcano eruption in Philippine history and the 2nd largest eruption in the world during the 20th century.
But many years after the catastrophe, Mount Pinatubo gradually transformed into what it is today – a lovely and breathtaking expanse in the country with lahar towers and ash walls contrasting with lush greenery, bluish lake, and clear rivers. The crater lake, formed by the eruption and annual monsoon rains, is a sight to behold. It is currently one of the most-photographed spots in the area and continuously earns the admiration of anyone who lays eyes on it.
As imposing as it may seem, Mount Pinatubo is not only for seasoned hikers and mountaineers to explore. Its difficulty level is suitable even for newbies. The summit takes two to three hours to reach and swimming and boating in the lake is prohibited. Mount Pinatubo offers a breathtaking view and experience making it one of volcanoes to hike in the Philippines.
Several tour operators offer Mount Pinatubo tours and trekking packages which allow you to see the crater lake.
READ MORE: Mount Pinatubo
4 | Mount Kanlaon
View near the slopes of Mount Kanlaon
Mount Kanlaon is the largest and third most active volcano in the country with a record of 30 eruptions since 1819. Most of its eruptions produce minor ash falls except in 1902 when it erupted with lava and gas fumes. Being the highest in the region, Kanlaon attracts mountain climbers and hikers who are up for a new challenge. Reaching the base camp takes about a day while the descent can last for two days.
Kanlaon, declared a natural park, features two main craters and several hiking trails with difficulty ranging from easy to difficult. It also boasts of three hot springs – Bucalan Hot Spring, Bungol Hot Spring, and Mambucal Hot Springs which, along with Mambukal Mountain Resort, is managed by the provincial government of Negros Occidental.
The rich and lush environment of Kanlaon is home to various species of flora and fauna including the giant golden-crowned flying fox, Philippine tube-nosed fruit bat, Visayas warty pig, and the Negros bleeding heart pigeon, all are found in the Philippines only.
READ MORE: Mount Kanlaon
5 | Mount Apo
Although Mount Apo has no known historical eruptions, Mount Apo is classified as dormant or potentially active due to the presence of volcanic rocks and volcano craters. This national park and protected area is home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna including the critically endangered Philippine eagle, the country’s national bird. The mountain has four major lakes, 19 major rivers, 21 creeks, waterfalls, 2 geothermal plants, and 2 hydropower plants. Conquering Mount Apo is probably every mountain climber’s dream but is best explored by experienced mountaineers and hikers only due to its elevation and difficulty. Hiking the mountain takes 3 to 4 days roundtrip.
READ MORE: Mount Apo
Other volcanoes in the Philippines to hike include Mount Arayat, Mount Makiling, and Mount Hibok-Hibok.