Our hands were shaking after 2.5 hours on the ATV but if you would ask our daughter if she is willing to do it again - you will hear a resounding YASS!!! It was an adventurous way to spend the last day of November in a barren land up North of Metro Manila.
IN THE KNOW
We booked our ATV tour via Capas ATV Adventure - though this was not our first time to ride an ATV but our first experience was short, sweet and sandy (down South of Vietnam). This time around, it was a 2.5 hour drive from Capas base to Tambo Lake on a 13 kilometer trail though lahar and river crossings. According to our tour guide, our destination Tambo Lake used to be agricultural land of rice paddies. After the 1991 Mt.Pinatubo eruption, the lagoon was created and has now been a source of aquatic resources for the native Aetas living there.
We opted for a late afternoon ride, when the sun was not too hot and just in time before sunset. It was the right time for us to do this, because we escaped the scorching heat yet had enough sunlight to appreciate the surroundings.
We first made it to the Capas ATV Adventure (photo with rates courtesy of Capas ATV Adventure Facebook page) office to register and pay for the fees (fees include rental of the ATV Php 3,500/ vehicle and the tourism fees Php300/ person). The next step is to put on our helmets and listen to the orientation on how to use the ATV – press on the right handle for the gas, and the left handle for the brakes. Set the manual on neutral when the vehicle is not in use. As we were riding with a youngster under age 10, she had to piggy back on one of our vehicles because she wasn’t allowed to drive on her own yet.
From the office of Capas ATV Adventure, we made our way to our destination via the National Road. It was a short drive on cement pavement before you hit the dirt road. But it was a good thing there were only a few vehicles that day – for a first timer motor driver like me, it was rattling to drive the ATV at the same time be aware of other vehicles. Our next step was to submit our registration papers to the base camp officers who are stationed before you enter the lahar trail. We beamed our prettiest smiles and made our way to Tambo Lake.
Seeing the vast lahar land created by the Mt. PInatubo eruption gives you a surreal feeling. It's mostly barren land but it now provides another form of income related to tourism services.
Capas ATV Adventure provides you 2 guides on your trip – one to drive the 3rd ATV just in case a vehicle stalls, and the other guide to take all of your photos and videos.
During our ride, we saw farmers pulling their carts with their ever-reliant carabaos (or buffalos), and also saw wild carabaos resting along the way. We wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a photo with them (but be careful not to get close as the engines tend to startle the animals).
There were plenty of lahar walls along the way too. We saw writings or lahar graffiti and tried it on our own. Who knew the walls would be stiff hard!
After about an hour of driving, we finally arrived at our destination. The famous Tambo Lake. We met local Aetas who lived in the area of Tambo and also saw pigs looking for clams in the water. We rested here for approximately half an hour. Our tour guide explained the history of the site, and how it was devastated during recent typhoons.
Unknown to us, the little one was observing how we drove the ATV. Since the ATV was using a stick shift, it was easy to change it from Neutral to Drive. And so, she tried to drive an ATV on her own. But ssshhh… don’t tell her grandparents we allowed her to drive on her own!
Now it’s time for us to head back to the base before it gets dark. We made a few river crossings along the way, and it was really fun to do so! The most adventure I would ever get out of an ATV!
With the sun setting behind the beautiful mountains of Tarlac and Zambales, we couldn’t help but notice the gorgeous view it made. Our family adventure is one for the books. The little one had so much fun – she kept on pointing at things she saw like animals, interesting rocks and the curves of the mountains.
No drive would be complete without some friendly competition – here’s the little one making gestures to her dad saying "I SEE YOU, I will beat you!" Of course the fastest we went was less than 20kmh, so you can just imagine how long this competition went! We had tons of laughs!
AGUIVENTURE FAMILY TRAVEL TIPS
Pack light, just the bare necessities and a water bottle would do.
Bring face masks as the road will get dusty. It can irritate both your eyes and nose.
Don’t forget your sunglasses as there is no shade from the sun. On that note, make sure to put on sunscreen before the activity.
Wear long pants – when the ATV passes rivers, the water splashes onto the ATV engine making it really hot for your legs.
Visit during summer season when there is less chance of rain. In case of heavy rains, the trail is not safe to pass through which would derail your itinerary plans. The safety is ensured by the Capas Tourism Agency as they issue GO or NO GO for activities.
As I always say, sharing is caring. A little goes a long, long way. Bring candy for the Aeta kids you would meet along the way. They may seem shy at first but are very friendly and share their own stories about life in Tambo Lake.
A big THANK YOU to our guides and Capas ATV Adventure for an awesome adventure. It’s an adventure we would never forget.