Hoyop-Hoyopan Limestone Caves
We found out about these caves through local knowledge. Located in the village of Cotmon in Camalig (not far from Daraga), it is about 30mins drive from Legaspi. On the drive we stopped numerous times to ask for directions as sign-posting around here isn't great!
The Caves are a multi-level cavernous system of natural limestone featuring the usual sights such as stalactites, stalagmites, quartz crystalline, lots of colour and water. It was discovered during the Japanese occupation when the guerillas used the network as a base in the region. Since then, the caves have become a popular and easily accessible tourist site. More serious cavers can discover the more treacherous parts of the system which apparently take 11 hours to discover if you have all the necessary gear with you.
There is always a cool breeze to be felt whilst walking through the upper levels of the cave system which means that the natural ventilation is good and the caverns don't stink. The name 'Hoyop-Hoyopan' is derived from the word “hoyop” which means 'blow'.
The caves are situated on private land but the family that own the place know them well and provide very well informed and educational guided tours. The caves are lit with incandescent lights and the guide also carries a torch for the darker bits.
Since the system does have a history of guerilla movement, concrete steps and raised pathways were installed so that residents could get about easily and quickly. These days, this makes movement a much easier affair when visiting with the main risk reduced to being aware of slippery surfaces. With exception of one really narrow passage that involved a level of contortionism, moving around the cave was easy and relatively safe!
The guide was fabulous and friendly, with interesting little stories about certain stalactites, stalagmites and the quartz crystalline. Very well informed, he could answer most questions thrown at him about the formation of the caves, to the war-time history to folklore. He told us that the locals keep an eye on the water level in the underground lake and that if it drains rapidly then you know that the volcano is about erupt...!
Also, people have been known to shelter here during bad typhoons and cyclones.
We walked around for about 40 mins looking at the gorgeous colours and shapes before leaving by a side exit which afforded a gorgeous view of Mt Mayon. Since the caves are so well-lit, you can really see the colours which is a little unusual in caves.
The cost isn't too bad - a couple of hundred pesos for the parking, tour and lights. Obviously this is more if you want to partake in more serious caving.
There are a few more photos in my Travelogues
Ligñon Hill & Nature Park
A must do if staying in Legaspi, Ligñon Hill is well worth the visit. It is one of the best places to see Mt Mayon in all its glory along with beautiful 360degree views of the entire region. The 143m high cinder-cone hill is located 11km southeast of the volcano and is the highest location in Legaspi, towering over Legaspi Airport. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has a permanent station up here with which to observe Mayon.
I understand that due to the popularity of this place, there are developmental improvements being made with regard to eateries, entertainment & activity facilities and also improved protection of the nature reserve itself.
The early morning is the best time to see Mayon before the clouds set up home over the volcano's summit or, in the eveningtime for the sunset and city lights. Also, it is less humid and hot at these times.
There are multiple activities available such as zip lining, paintballing, ATV off-roading and biking through dry gullies at the foot of Mayon.
Alternatively, sit down with a cold drink/ snack and enjoy the beautiful views!
Please see my Travelogues for photos of the beautiful views of Mayon
Malilipot Busay Falls
This cute little waterfall is tucked away in the forested foothills of Mt Mayon near the little town of Malilipot. We had just finished a trek through the Mayon foothills so we were shattered already and just needed to rest somewhere cool and refreshing! The entry fee was minimal.
These Falls are quite high - initially descending from a height of 250m over 7 stages of mini-falls and pools until the last 40m cascade drops into a small and shallow pool at the very bottom. Since this is the one near the carpark and the most accessible of them all, it is also the most popular.
The pool is lovely, the water cool, clear and clean and the sound of rushing water is all around. It's a tiny piece of perfected, untouched paradise. We were fortunate enough to not have to share it with anyone else at the time we were there!
If you are a keen hiker, then the option to hike up to the start of the waterfall is an available option. Apparently it's quite treacherous, steep and slippery - especially during the wet season (which is most of the time!). If we hadn't hiked Mt Mayon, we could have done this instead.
Well worth a visit!
Our Lady of the Gate Parish Church
The Church was built in 1773 by Franciscan missionaries at the time when Daraga was still part of Cagsawa. Technically, the style is Baroque but there's also a bit of renaissance Gothic in there too and it's famous because it's the only one of its kind in the world built from black volcanic rock.
Unfortunately, in an effort to protect the crumbling facade, the front of the Church, with exception of the belfry, has been covered in lime, turning it completely white! In a very unpopular move with the general public, the Church has unfortunately lost that famous black volcanic facade it was famous for.
The Church’s facade carries the Franciscan Order coat of arms, images of Franciscan saints and an image of Our Lady of the Gate. The engravings throughout the entire façade including those on the belfry are pretty much all that is left of any historical relevance after the bombings during World War II. Inside, the Church is very simply laid out with little in the way of remaining relics or decoration to be seen.
There is a lovely little cafe that can be accessed from the grounds affording the most incredible views of Mt Mayon. We watched the sunset over a few drinks and snacks.
Please see the Travelogues for more photos of Mayon and the surrounds.
A day out on a fishing boat...
Thanks to the suggestion made by our friends who live here, we were able to hire a local fishing boat to take us to the coral reefs in the Albay Gulf for a spot of snorkelling.The boat resembled a catamaran and must have been about 35 foot long. This was a working boat weighing in at few tonnes so although it wasn't fitted with any luxuries (such as ladders to get in and out!), there was a 5-man crew in attendance. No sails but entirely motored, the boat did have a powerful engine that got us there and back in one piece.
It didn't strike me as difficult to arrange to one of these excursions. Our friend entered a cafe, asked someone (in English) and then we were guided to someone's house and within half an hour it was arranged! We would leave at 7am and return by lunch time.
People here live on the water and their livelihoods are derived from the sea. They know the water very very well and are good judges with regard to swift weather changes. When fishing, these boats are taken out to quite a distance, are strong and sturdy and are managed by skilled crew.
We didn't go too far and stayed within the relative safety of the Albay Harbour. The captain knew of good snorkelling areas and thanks to his knowledge, we saw numerous varieties of fish, starfish and coral in crystal clear urchin-infested waters. The captain had offered to take us to a sandy beach island for a walk around but we opted to stay in the water as long as we could. Instead, we stopped at a little bay for a half hour coconut pit-stop before making our way home.
From when we had left at 7am, we had watched clouds build up far in the distance. As it got darker and the lightening started flashing with distant rumbles of thunder, our crew went into a huddle, had a talk and decided the excursion was over and we needed to leave asap. We had been quite keen to visit an island with some caves but by this stage they refused to even entertain the idea because of the time vs the building storm. They didn't think we'd get home in time to beat the storm that was swiftly moving in. I, for one, wasn't keen to be out there in a storm! It had rained every day that we'd been here so this wasn't unexpected.
Full power on, we motored back to Legaspi, enjoying the motion, wind, sea-breezes and views. It had been a really fabulous few hours!
Well, shortly after we got home, the storm hit land and it was a big one! The wind screamed and howled rattling everything, rain pouring for ages, the lightening and thunder just horrid! And down there in the harbour we could see our boat hopping and bouncing all over the place!
I have posted photos of our day out in my Travelogues:
Read more: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/145713/154a73/#ixzz1s4Oz8jQE
- Diving and Snorkeling
These ruins are the remnants of a Franciscan church built in 1724 during the Hispanic occupation, which was later destroyed by a violent volcanic eruption in Feb 1814. They are considered a symbol reflecting the dangers of living near an enormous, active volcano and are one of the biggest tourist attractions in this region.
The eruption is said to have killed about 1,200 people in the area and actually buried the town of Cagsawa (among others) under several hundred million cubic meters of ash. It is said that hundreds of Cagsawa residents sought refuge in the church, but were killed by either pyroclastic flows or lahar. The proximity to the volcano meant that any chance of survival was extremely low. These days, only the belfry remains standing and the area is protected by government. Apparently, in the past, there was more left of the structure but cyclones and earhquakes have left their legacy since.
Survivors chose to resettle in Daraga and remain in the locality rather than leave and set up somewhere else. We were told by locals that people wanted the ruins excavated so that bodies could be recovered and returned to their families for formal buriel but the government refused. This place therefore remains very important to many families in this region.
We visited on a dark, cloudy, gloomy day which added to the general atmosphere of the place. It was a unique experience
I have posted photos in my Travelogues...
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
- Museum Visits
Visit the Cagsawa Ruins
The Cagsawa Church, built around 1724, was buried when Mayon Volcano erupted in 1814. The bell tower is the most preserved part of the church. The remaining walls of the church can give you an idea on how big it was, and its basic structure. Looking around the vicinity, there were big boulders scattered, which were testament of how strong the eruption was, moving tons of stones just like marbles.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Chill at the Embarcadero
Good food, good view. It's modern Legaspi. This commercial center located at the Legaspi Harbor. We weren't able to enjoy all that it could offer since we only passed there to eat, but they have a variety of activities to keep you busy. There's a 350-meter zipline from a lighthouse, kart race, segway.
Trek to Lignon Hill
Lignon Hill gives you a 360degree view of Legaspi City, which includes, of course Mayon Volcano . The tricycle we rented was only allowed up to the gate at the bottom of the hill. So it was a 45-minute trek for us, which includes a few minutes of rest in between. Going up, we felt that the road never ended. We huffed and puffed all the way, and swore to start exercising when we got back to Manila. What made it worse was the realization that if we rented a van, we would have skipped the aching legs, as we saw them going straight to the peak. But, then, we never dwell on the negative (and was also on a budget), so we set the thought aside. There was a zipline, but wasn't available when we went there. I'm not sure why, it could be that they open late or maybe because we came on a weekday. There are stores on the peak which sell food, drinks and ice cream. :-) Get ready with your P5 coins to be able to use the viewer for a closer look of Mayon Volcano and the port area. You can also see the airport runway from the hill. When we went there, we were fortunate to see an aerial show of around 8 small planes (probably a practice routine). Entrance fee is P30.00
- Budget Travel