Practice makes perfect. This was my mantra during the 45 minutes that I drove an ATV or all-terrain vehicle at Cagsawa, the area in the town of Daraga in Albay province famed for its postcard perfect Mount Mayon landscapes.
I don’t know how to drive though I can manage a bicycle so long as I am the only inhabitant in the road. However, I refused to be beaten by my fear and hopped on the humongous machine which is the ATV.
I have covered many places in Albay to confirm and behold Mount Mayon’s cone-shaped perfection, as if this could ever be disproved. I wanted to step up, though. I had to experience something new. Ergo ATV.
But less than 10 minutes into my ATV ride, I had my first of many thrills when I accelerated and crashed into my friend’s ATV. Ha! I screamed like a girl and thought that the instant would officially end my dream of becoming king of the road. But I survived with just my masculine ego slightly wounded. I mastered the fine art of gently pressing the gas and my first ATV ride was lodged into my brain as an exciting, unforgettable memory. And I am definitely going back for more.
ATVs had been around the area for several years. It is an alternative for travelers particularly the adventure and thrill-seekers. While Mount Mayon may be viewed from many points in the cities and municipalities that share the active volcano’s jurisdiction, ATVs allow travelers to go closer and come into direct contact with the fine sands, boulders, streams, and vegetations within the danger zone.
Because my ATV ride was among the best things that ever happened to me in Albay, I feel that it is my duty to share these tips so that your own ATV encounter will be as exhilarating as mine.
- Go directly to the shops that run the ATV rides instead of the dispatchers in the area. Inasmuch as I respect these guys who are just earning their living, talking directly with the shop owners allows you to assess if their trips and units shall be safe or less risky for you. Price gets a few bucks cheaper too.
- May I recommend an ATV operator in the area? Of course. Harry ‘King’ Esquivel of Albay ATV Adventure’s service to our group had been excellent. First, the ATV units he provided were all new and in perfect condition. Second, his team conducts thorough safety procedure from the briefing to the test drives. Third, you never have to worry about photo and video documentation. King’s team perfectly understands the behavior and needs of modern day travelers-we need to post proofs of our daredevil stunts in social media. You just hand over your camera to your guides and focus on your ride while King’s boys will take care of the angling. His enterprise has a Facebook page and he can be contacted through these numbers: 0917-496-7170 or 0977-839-9217. You might wonder if I am getting freebies in exchange for this promotion and the answer is nope. He doesn’t even know that I am an occasional blogger. I am doing this out of gratitude because it is guys like him that make our travels unforgettable.
- Though the more advanced ATV rides that take 3-5 hours sound more enticing as these would allow the adventure-seekers to scale parts of the volcano, I would suggest that first-timers or beginners take the gentler (and cheaper) route. Because of the scare factor, too much challenge might stress you out and spoil your fun.
- ATV rides are available as early as 6:00 AM hence it is best to start early. That way, the sun’s heat is not yet scorching. The best views of Mount Mayon usually happen early in the morning or late in the afternoon since the volcano is often shrouded with clouds during midday. From Legazpi City, low-maintenance travelers may just take a jeepney bound for the towns of Camalig, Guinobatan, or Polangui as Cagsawa is just along the way. So you can budget, the short ATV rides cost P 600 to P 750 depending on the chosen ATV unit.
- Lastly, wear comfy clothes, apply sunscreen, put on closed footwear preferably running or trekking shoes, wear shades, prepare to get a bit wet, strictly follow the guide, and just enjoy.
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