Lap of luxury caps off molten encounter
Christina Pfeiffer experiences the power of lava while on a Philippines volcano adventure
A FEW months ago, scientists were predicting that Mt Mayon, the fiery star of the Philippines’ Albay province, 330km southeast of the capital Manila, would erupt spectacularly. The alert warning was raised to level four, the highest warning level before a full-blown eruption, and 40,000 residents around the volcano were evacuated to temporary shelters. Much to the relief of locals, it was a false alarm and the volatile inferno now seems to be calming down.
Last year, when the eruption alert warning was at level two, I was one of the first to go on a new adventure tour to Mt Mayon.
Mt Mayon’s history scared me. The volcano has erupted 48 times before. In 1814, a major eruption killed more than 1200 people and devastated several towns. Yet I was inextricably drawn to its flawless, almost perfectly conical beauty. The first inkling I had of the volcano’s power was during a visit to the Cagsawa church in the town of Daraga. The lava stream from the 1814 eruption had buried the local church and killed hundreds of villagers sheltering inside. All that remains today is the blackened church tower.
Although the volcano was officially off-limits to the public, local tour company Mayon Adventureland was able to get our group of five past the 6km checkpoint guarded by armed soldiers.