As part of my TBEX Philippines fam trip to Bicol, I went on a Mayon volcano tour riding an ATV. Made famous by Zac Efron, these ATV tours take you on a two to three hour trip through the Philippine country side and up to one of the Mayon volcano’s eruption sides.
What is an ATV, and how do you drive it?
ATV stands for all-terrain vehicle, and we literally tested these babies in all terrains. Starting off with a short drive on a paved road, we soon got to a big lawn where we stopped for group photos. After that, we mostly went along trails of lava ash and rocks, occasionally swerving a cow or a local on a motorbike.
The highlight of the Mayon volcano tour, at least for me, were the stream crossings, where we got to drive our ATVs into the water at full speed, crossing our fingers that we’d come out on the other side and not get stuck in the river mud, having to walk out in shame with drenched feet and waving one of our tour guides to come rescue our vehicles. Our success rates were at about 70%, and it was a great laugh both when riding and when watching others try their luck.
Driving the ATV was really easy. We got automatic models, so all we had to do, really, was hit the gas and break when necessary. They were surprisingly powerful and agile, making the ride quite thrilling.
What is there to see?
We rode up to the Mayon volcano, one of the Philippine’s most active volcanoes known for its “perfect cone”. As we went in rainy season, we were a bit unlucky not to see much of the volcano on our way. But being in the countryside and cruising through streams made up for that. Once we reached the lava front, we ditched our rides, had a quick snack and then walked and climed up the lava pile to a view point. From there, we had amazing views of the volcano and the surrounding area, seeing all the way down to the sea.
If you’re looking for an additional moment of thrill, you can save your energy on the way down and simply zipline back down to where you left your ATV. Ziplining off a volcano eruption site is probably quite a unique adventure!
What to bring to an ATV ride
We were provided with everything we needed, but our guides recommended a change of clothes. That turned out to be a good idea, because even those of us who made it through all water crossings perfectly had mud all over us. Rainy season definitely makes ATV rides more fun! Bring a camera. Our guides were super patient with our group and the thousands of photos we wanted. I’m not even exaggerating here, that’s what happens when you’re out with a group of bloggers. An action friendly camera – GoPro, Olympus Tough or the like – is your best option as you won’t have to worry about it getting splashed by the mud.
Adventure: Mayon Volcano Tour on an ATV
Thrill level: 4/5
Chill level: 3/5
Skill level: 2/5 – driving is pretty easy, a bit of fitness is required to climb the lava pile (optional!)
Where to do it: For the Mayon volcano specifically, there are various ATV tour operators based in and around Legazpi. We went with “Your Brother Travel”, and I would recommend them. ATVs and helmets were in great shape, and the team was friendly and helpful.
Verdict: One of the highlights of our five day Bicol trip for me. Lots of fun, we got to know the area, and it’s as thrilling as you choose to make it. You can take it easy and slow, or go a bit crazy.
Note: I was invited to this ATV tour by the Philippines Tourism Promotions Board. Opinions, as always, are my own.