A week after I went to Mount Pulag, I decided to join the same group and head to Mount Pinatubo. After our gruesome 26 km total hike in Pulag, I thought to myself: “Pinatubo should be smooth sailing. No sweat…” . Well, it’s true for the most part of this trip.
Our trip starts at our meeting point in Metro Manila around 3 am. From there, we hit the road and headed to Capas, Tarlac. After our orientation with the travel organizer, we headed towards the entry point to Mount Pinatubo. It was already sunrise when we reached our final stop. From here, we would be riding 4x4s to reach the foot of the mountain.
(Mount Pinatubo is actually an active volcano. The indigenous people who live around the mountain were unaware that this was a volcano up until it erupted in 1991.)
The most tiresome part of the trip was the 4×4 ride. While some rode an open top 4×4 jeep, we were assigned to an enclosed one. Both have pros and cons. Riding the open top gives you more leeway in terms of space. You can also hold on to the roll cage or even stand up if you get too tired of sitting down (and of course the photo ops). On the downside, you are more prone to be exposed from the lahar. As for our enclosed ride, there wasn’t really any option to hold on to anything. There were no handlebars to cling on so the bumpy ride can really get messy. Did I also mention that the ride takes around 2-3 hours. Part of the experience for me!
As we were getting deeper, you can see the sudden shift in the landscape. Can you imagine something beautiful resulted from a vicious volcanic eruption? For some reason, it made me feel like I was in the Land Before Time minus the dinosaurs of course.
Along the way, you will see several local Aetas. The children are very friendly and enjoy being taken photos.
Once we reach the foot, it was now time to hike up the trail. Contrary to the old set-up, the most convenient trail to reach the crater only takes 15-30 minutes depending on your pace. There are longer trails which just meant that you get dropped off earlier and start walking from that point. I was initially expecting to hike between 1-2 hours per way so I was surprised that the trail was way shorter than I expected.
The trail is very easy and anyone should be able to manage it. As a tip, I suggest that you wear quick dry shoes as you will be passing by certain areas that has shallow running water. Also, refrain from wearing open shoes if you are prone to sunburn. Temperatures can get really hot in Pinatubo during the summer time.
Behold… The Mount Pinatubo crater…
You can also camp within the crater as I’ve seen some photos online. However, swimming has been prohibited already. For me, a day trip is already enough to enjoy what this place has to offer.
Before heading back, we decided to take a side trip to a nearby waterfall. I decided to take a plunge to refresh my body from the hot summer heat. The water is so cool and clear! You can ask your guide to bring you there as they’re probably familiar with the spot. It’s just a few minutes from the 4×4 drop off point before the short trek.
By the time our trip has officially ended, it was almost sundown. Our group then headed straight to Pampanga to grab some dinner before parting ways.
I would recommend everyone to head to Pinatubo if they want to be more adventurous with their travels. This is definitely a good starting point! It’s also just a stone’s throw away from the country’s capital.
– The Tourist Pao