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Philippines: Mount Mayon – ATV to World’s Most Perfectly Formed Volcano

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They say a visit to Legazpi City in the Philippines will not be complete without an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) ride to Mount Mayon and I say that is TRUE.

Mount Mayon has a dramatically perfect cone shape that stands out in the landscape outside of Legazpi City. Of course, it’s also one of the most active volcanos in the Philippines. In the past 400 years it has erupted 49 times. Kind of adds a sense of danger to the whole experience. The good news is that the ATV trail has been well maintained for years now and you won’t be in immediate danger. =P

If you want to see a beautiful and incredible variety of the landscape of Legazpi City, taking a ATV tour to Mount Mayon with Your Brother Travel and Tours is the way to go!

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Your Brother Travel and Tours was established not long too long ago in 2007. They offered a wide selection of quality ATVs that guarantee safety to all of their guests.

The owner and his father started this tour with only one ATV, imagine that!

For three years, they would personally take their guests out to Mount Mayon up to 10 times a day without any employee. Now, they have over 80 ATV units with employees. I guess you could say that business is good.

Besides, this tour company had already been featured in many TV shows like Kris TV, Pinoy Adventures hosted by Richard Gutierriez and even in National Geographic. Moveover, the Mayon ATV tour had been tried by famous celebrities like Zac Efron.

Having mentioned how the Mayon ATV Tour by Your Brother Travel and Tours had been highly publicized in top television networks, it was automatically on my bucket list as soon as I learned about this Mayon ATV tour in Legazpi City.

The Beginning

While I was in Manila in the Philippines, I contacted Your Brother Travel and Tours via email offering a blog review for a sponsored ATV tour. Their contact person, Cyril Chan, responded promptly and agreed to the offer.

It was on April 16th after I visited the Art in Island museum when I heard the news. I had planned to take an overnight bus on the 17th that would last 10 hours from Manila to Legazpi City, but I missed the bus. Sigh.

That was the last bus and there was no other bus that would leave to Legazpi city, so the only choice I had was to take the bus on the next night.

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On the next day (April 18), I went back to the bus terminal in time for me to buy a ticket and catch the bus. The ticket was 800 PHP (~$17 US Dollars) after the disability discount. The discount actually applied to only Filipinos, but they were generous and applied the discount on me anyways.

Sigh. I wish I had taken that bus on the 17th because the bus ride on the 18th lasted 15 hours instead of 10 hours.

That 15-hour ride was NOT smooth at all. There was a flat tire and we had to wait around two hours for it to be replaced. Then the engine stopped running and it took them about 3 hours to get it running again.

Not kidding here. I hate it when my schedule goes off, but I managed anyways.

First night in Legazpi City

It was mid-afternoon when the bus arrived at the terminal. Upon arrival, I found a crappy and cheap hostel nearby. It was 300 Pesos (~$7 US Dollars) a night. I know I could have gone to somewhere better, but I had no choice because I was on a budget.

I mean it, it was really crappy and ugly! Their room was so small and totally outdated. It looked so old and it had a TV from the 80’s. The restroom was literally no-good. It would only drip so little water. There was a fan instead of an air conditioner. Ugh, how am I supposed to sleep in this? Oh, boy.

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I laid down my backpack and got myself settled. I pulled out my iPad and connected it to the Wifi.

Their Wifi was so lousy that I couldn’t connect to it from my room. I had to be in the lobby to be connected and the worse thing was that iMessage was the only thing I could access. I couldn’t send any email because the Internet wouldn’t load, so I sent my co-founder, John Hathaway, a message asking him to inform the tour operator that I had arrived for me. He did so momentarily. How lucky I am to have him!

Shortly after, John communicated with me that the tour operator was on the way.

I went out to wait for the ride. The tour operator arrived in a truck and I hopped in. He drove back to the tour office.

At the tour office, I was greeted by a kind lady at the front desk. I began by writing on a paper to her telling her that I was here for the sponsored tour. She was kind and asked me to wait while she called the owner to confirm. It wasn’t long before she returned to inform me that the owner couldn’t be there to discuss the tour, but she was about to take over.

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We went over and started discussing which ATV tour I should take. The tours they offered were the following:

TRAILS 150 CC
Single
350 CC
Single
350 CC
Double
Can-Am
ATV
MAYON ATV CHALLENGE PHP
599
PHP
799
PHP
1,200
PHP
2,500
MAYON TO BASE CAMP PHP
1,800
PHP
2,500
PHP
3,500
PHP
4,500
MAYON ADVANCED TRAIL PHP
2,000
PHP
3,000
PHP
3,800
PHP
5,000
MAYON ATV SUMMIT N/A PHP
6,500
PHP
7,500
PHP
9,000
CAGSAWA TRAIL N/A PHP
3,500
PHP
4,500
PHP
7,500
MAYON 360 N/A PHP
4,000
PHP
4,500
PHP
7,500
4X4 JEEP PHP 3,500
(up to 4 pax)

I decided to go with Mayon to Base Camp tour and they were cool about it. The lady quickly went outside to check how the weather was. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to have the tour, so she insisted to conduct the tour on the next day.

Of course, I went with her suggestion because I wanted the best out of the tour. Then I started filling out paperwork and signing agreement of terms and waiver of liability.

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She told me that I could take the tour at any time of my choice. I decided to go with 7-8am because I’m a morning person and I like getting up early in the morning. She was fine with it and recorded it in their schedule.

After that, she invited me to a gathering with her friends at a resort right by the Black Sand beach where we would have a feast and some drinks. I couldn’t resist the invitation because I get to meet some locals and have some fun, so I said yes. Who wouldn’t though. Besides, free food was a bonus for me as well.

I joined her ride when she closed up the office. She drove us to the resort by the Black Sand beach just to find that we couldn’t get in because it was closed.

After a short time of discussing an alternative plan, we decided to go to an area with hotels and bars only few minutes drive away where they had a public waterfront balcony that we could jump off along with a cook-out by locals.

First thing the locals did when we arrived at the balcony was take off their shirts and rushed to jump off the balcony. Sure thing I decided to join the fun. I set up my GoPro and started recording the night away then I jumped into the water. The people there was so nice they would make sure I was okay every time I come out of the water after jumping off the balcony. They wanted to make sure I was safe.

The sunset went down as we had countless jumps. Such a beautiful view.

We spent the rest of the night chatting with each other over a chicken curry with rice, which was decent. It filled me up well.

As soon as I was finished with my meal, the people there started giving me shots of Tanduay Rhum Dark (rum made in the Philippines). We all drank Rhum for the rest of night. I had bunch of fun chatting with them and getting to know them a little more.

When it became dark, the lady from the tour office took me and gave me a ride back to my crappy hostel. I was so exhausted that I didn’t do anything before going to bed when I arrived at the hostel. I just went straight to bed.

The ATV Adventure to Mount Mayon

Rise and shine!

I jumped out of my bed as soon as the sun came out. I just couldn’t wait. I got ready and went outside at around 7:30am.

My tour operator actually came in style this time! He rode a double seat ATV, and then I hopped on the backseat.

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At the site, the operator led me into the office to have me watch an introductory video that showed trail preview, safety precautions, and tips on smooth maneuvering of ATV unit. By the way, the video didn’t have subtitles or closed captions, but the video was very visual and I picked up just fine.

After that, I was told that I was given the privilege to have a private guide for this tour, so he introduced the guide to me. He was a 16-year-old boy, but that didn’t bother me. He taught me the how-to’s of ATV driving and allowed some time to practice riding the ATV around the office building. Safety first—this had always been the priority of Your Brother Travel and Tours. Obviously, they sticked with what their name was all about—a brother.

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My single-seater 350 CC ATV was ready to rip. This bad boy had no gear – just a thumb accelerator and hand brakes – making them very easy to operate.

Before hitting the terrain, I showed the guide how to use the GoPro camera, so he would know how to film me or take pictures when I ask him to. He picked up on the demonstration I had for him just fine.

An 18-km (11 miles) adrenaline-rush—I was so ready for it. 

Leaving the site, we began riding through villages and see what the people are living like out here. The rice fields, farms, animals, and the people themselves are having a day like any other.

As the trail climbs, you get more and more rocky terrain. The trail included grassland, rocky terrain, and a number of streams! Crossing swamps and mud holes awesomely made the ride splashy wet!

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Throughout the trail, we would stop by to take pictures and videos. What was cool about the guide was that he was so used to taking photos of the guests. He knew where exactly to stop to capture the best picture.

Anyways, I would tell the guide to speed up and make things exciting with the gesture of a thumb-up in the air. Then he would start raging through the trails. I would follow the pace and  fee the cool breeze on my skin.

As the ride went, I got more confident and found myself enjoying the scenery more. I could see Mount Mayon, but it was a little shy as it was hiding in the clouds. Oh, well!

When we were getting closer to the base camp, the guide gestured me to go crazy on my ATV. Without questioning, I went reckless and went as fast as I could to make the biggest splashes possible.

After around an hour, we reached the base camp just several meters from Mayon Lava front. we parked our ATVs here and I paid 50 PHP (~$1 US Dollar) for the environmental fee before climbing up the lava front. Besides, they provided water there.

For a moment there, I started having a conversation with the guide. He told me about how he want to join the military in the future, but he had been working to save up for a new life in Davao City.

Then I shared my story on traveling the world. He was so moved by my story, he actually gave me me my 50 Peso (~$1 US Dollar). He was inspired and he wanted to support me by waiving the environmental fee. I resisted at first, but he insisted. I thanked him profoundly.

DCIM105GOPROWe continued writing to each other for a while because we were hoping that the clouds would clear up for me to see. Unfortunately it didn’t.

At this point, we started climbing up the loose lava rocks for around 15 minutes to get on the helipad at the top of the lava front.

Great view of Legazpi City, Albay Gulf, Lignon Hill and Mayon Volcano itself at the top. The hike itself was really fun. The volcano would be right above you and the lava front gave me the goosebumps. It felt so surreal to be at the top.

Personally, I never got to see a close up of the lava rocks and the ones at Mount Mayon was so HUGE. It was like a giant river leading up to the summit of the volcano.

Seeing this with my own eyes was nothing like seeing this scenery in pictures.

volcano

After taking pictures, the guide started pushing that we leave soon because we were on schedule, then he stopped me quickly to offer me to take the zipline back to base camp instead of climbing down the lava rock for an additional 300 PHP (~$7 US Dollars).

I wanted to stay in budget, so I declined and then followed him back to the base camp. From there we hopped back onto our ATVs and drive back to the main site to finish the tour.

On the ride back down I tried not to think about how this was going to end soon. I was thinking about how incredible this experience was and enjoying the scenery at the same time.

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At the site, the guide went to get a cold and wet towel for me to wash the dust and mud from the trail off my face. I washed my face then he started showing me other ATV units. He also showed me the dune buggy (a low, wide-wheeled motor vehicle for recreational driving on sand).

He brought me a paper with information on other tours and activities that they also offered on the side of their tour business.

The tours and activities they offer are the following:

  • Water sports activities
  • Bike and motorcycle rental
  • Legazpi and Daraga City tour
  • Albay Provincial tour
  • Sorsogon tour/ Matnog island hopping adventure
  • Camarines Sur/ Naga City tour
  • Donsol WhaleShark interaction and Firefly watching
  • Misibis Bay or Cagraray Eco-Park tour
  • and different tours here in Bicol

Besides, I want to mention a little about their hospitality with me while I was riding with them before I wrap this up.

To be honest, they were very communicative and very clear in their writing. They made sure I understood everything. I could see that they wanted me to be safe yet have fun.

Not only that, they were very welcoming and I felt liked I was family to them. I was truly impressed with their customer service overall.

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I could trust them to watch my backpack while I rode the ATV to the volcano and it resulted with a return in one full piece and no sign of theft.

Overall, with the 9 km ride to the volcano, which took about 45 minutes, then a small hike to the lava front from Mount Mayon base camp, then the 9 km back. I was in complete awe the whole time. It was an amazingly fun adventure, one that I definitely wouldn’t mind doing again. Many thanks to Your Brother Travel and Tours for giving me this opportunity!

Few tips for you:

  • You will get a little wet. I would recommend you to wear swim suits, water shoes or sandals, quick-drying shirt and some waterproof gear.
  • Wear like it’s summer. Trust me, you will be cool and I’d suggest you to wear shorts or tanks as it would be hot outside, unless it rains then bring a raincoat.
  • Reserve in advance. Be sure to contact them in advance to book and communicate that you are Deaf. They will be more than glad to help.

This trip is a great time for anyone who enjoys an adventure packed activities. If you enjoy this sort of thing, then I highly highly HIGHLY recommend booking an ATV tour with Your Brother Travel and Tours.

Your Brother Travel and Tours

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Your Brother Travel and Tours. I received a free tour in exchange of this blog review. All opinions are my own.

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Calvin Young

Calvin Young

Hey buddy! I go by Calvin and I'm a Deaf traveler. I love exploring the world to discover and share amazing stories, useful tips, stunning photographs, jaw-dropping videos and many more with you all! I aim to empower and inspire the Deaf people that they can do anything they want through my travels.

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Marble Mountain Ranch

Wow, what a great ATV ride experience in this city, seeing the majestic view of this perfect-shaped volcano. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

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