Legazpi airport must have one of the most scenic landing strips in the world. Ten minutes before the plane descended towards the city, just one hour’s flight from the Philippines’ capital Manila, Mt. Mayon came into view.
If you have the chance to choose your own seat on this route, opt for the right-hand side where you’ll see the most spectacular views as you approach the Bicol region.
One of the world’s most famous and photographed volcanoes, Mt. Mayon gets its name from the Bicol word ‘magayon’, meaning beauty. It’s easy to see why.
The active volcano sits beside the airport, separated by leafy fields and lush rice paddies. It’s so picturesque the pilot asked us not to stop for photographs on the runway – although most people still did. It’s just stunning.
At first I thought the peak of the volcano was covered in clouds, but it’s actually sulphur dioxide, which pumps out constantly.
Later that day, I got much closer to the mighty Mayon during a high-powered ATV (Any Terrain Vehicle) ride. These hardy quad bikes are perfect for negotiating the rocky trails and muddy paths leading up the base of the mountain.
I’d never driven one before and assumed I’d be sitting on the back, behind an experienced driver – but no, you’re given full control. I needn’t have been worried because they’re ridiculously easy to drive.
After a few nervous loops around the car park – watched on by the amused locals – I felt confident enough to take to the roads.
As they say, it’s not always about the destination, you should enjoy the journey – and that was certainly the case. While I was excited to reach the Mt. Mayon, the ride towards it was SO much fun!
We careered around dirt tracks, over bumps in the roads, rocky paths and ditches – nothing got in our way, apart from the odd cow roaming around.
Passing through the small villages, I got a wonderful insight into the lives of people living there. The must’ve heard the gentle roar of the engines approaching, as many came out their homes to greet us, as we motored past. The children were thrilled when we waved and smiled back, jumping up and down with even more energy whenever we responded.
We passed rice paddies and wound our way around endless palm trees before we reached our destination.
Finally there, we were met by incredible views of the volcano – and two water buffalo bathing in a waterhole. Perfect.
Although this is one of the most exciting ways to journey to the foothills of Mt. Mayon, there are plenty of other ways to experience it. Trekking is popular. You can chose between one, two or three day hikes. But, if you’d rather just lay back and enjoy the view, head to The Oriental Hotel. This high-end accommodation has lots to offer, including great service, modern rooms and the most impressive desert buffet I’ve ever seen! But its crowning glory has to be the gorgeous view of Mt. Mayon from the infinity pool. Head to the roof top for a swim around sunset and enjoy the vista. As the Bicol people say, it’s a true ‘magayon’ indeed.