Itchy feet, passion for travel, a talent in story telling, a not so abused camera, a Travel Blog and a totally raped backpack (but not complaining), these are the common denominators of the 30 young (and not so young) travel bloggers who recently had a day trip to Mount Pinatubo Crater last January 28, 2012. It’s the biggest out of town trip of Filipino travel bloggers to date and the three major islands in the Philippines are also well represented.
Pinoy Travel Bloggers in Pinatubo – Ada Lajara
Who wants to join for a Pinatubo trip? – A question i read from a Travel Bloggers Facebook Group few weeks back. With total uncertainty If I can still hike due to lack of exercise, I still said yes to challenge myself and also to meet other travel bloggers from different parts of the country.
Crossing the River
We left Manila at exactly 3am, no Filipino time for seasoned travelers like us.. time is valuable. We had a short stopover in one of the Shell Stations in NLex to have breakfast, buy water and hoard some snacks. After the Jollibee fix, we headed to Capas Tarlac for our ultimate Pinatubo Adventure.
Stopover #1 at Shell NLEX
The 4×4 jump off point in Capas Tarlac was already crowded when we arrived and according to our driver, we were about 300 people to trek that day. We started the 4×4 adventure soon after everyone got their assigned vehicle with their group mates.
Nerd Shot by @Winston
We had a short stopover in the middle of the rocky road for nothing but photo op.. Well if its for photo op, nobody will complain for sure LOL.
Stopover #2 at the Mount Pinatubo Trail (photo by Winston)
The crowd was composed of local tourists, Koreans, Chinese, Japanese and Caucasians. I was truly amazed with the huge crowd, I thought we were the only ones to trek that day haha.
I know I’ve been to this place twice already, one was a trek back in 2005 and the other one was via a sky tour back in 2006 during the Hot Air Balloon fiesta but this trip has a different jump-off point in Capaz Tarlac unlike the one we had before which started in Sapang Bato in Angeles City Pampanga.
Ready Get Set Trek
The 4×4 ride was totally an adventure ride but not as adventurous like the one I had in Paoay Sand Dunes back in 2010. We crossed some wetlands, rivers, rocky areas and dusty roads covered by lahar. I really wanted to take photos while on the road but there’s too much dust and the road is too bumpy so I just decided to keep my camera inside my white (turning brown) Jansport.
Testing the Waters
Back in 2010 when the skyway was still available, the crater can be reached by a 30 minute trek but now that SkyWay needs rehabilitation, we had to trek for almost 3 hours to reach the crater’s view point.
Philippines is not just about Imelda’s shoes, Manny Pacquiao and Celebrity turned Politicians, The Philippines bannered the headlines last June 15, 1991 when Mount Pinatubo produced tons of volcanic ashes which brought several parts of the country in the state of calamity.
Mount Pinatubo Crater
On a positive note, the volcanic ashes blocked the sun’s heat from entering the earth for couple of days and eventually cooled the earth down. The data collected after these eruptions show that mean world temperatures decreased by about 1 degree Centigrade over the subsequent two years. This cooling effect was welcomed by many scientists who saw it as a counter-balance to global warming. (source : http://www.geology.sdsu.edu/)
Watch your Steps
Mount Pinatubo is known to all those who travelled to the Philippines. Just to make everyone aware, it is a famous volcano that is located at the island of Luzon which is considered to be a tri-point that combines the Philippine provinces of Zambales, Tarlac as well as Pampanga. The mountain became more popular when it had one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the World in 1991. The volcano as well as the ash cloud generated from that affected the lives of thousands of people.
After two decades since the volcano erupted, Mount Pinatubo is now one of the best places in Philippines for trekking. It is for sure that people who go for Mount Pinatubo Day Tour will be amazed to feel the extreme calmness as well as peace while trekking to Mount Pinatubo.
Couple of years ago, an easy shortcut known as Skyway was developed for the hikers, allowing them to have a shorter route that will extend up to a drop off point for trekking to the crater. During the time that the Skyway is still functional, tourists regardless of age can enjoy trekking in Mount Pinatubo unlike now that the trek entails almost 3 hours of trek to the crater.
Along with the two hour hike, an hour of 4 x 4 ride as well as a maximum of 20 minutes to 45 minutes trek to the crater means you will be spending almost four hours to reach the crater. Basically the hikers travel by 4 x 4 vehicles that will take them up to the river bed then a two hour trek will start from where the 4×4’s were parked.
Scenic beauty is overwhelming during the entire Mount Pinatubo Trek. With the whole area covered with vegetation with uniquely shaped mountain sides as well as sheer cliffs that are located along side bare volcanic rocks, there’s no shortage of beauty in the place. Adding to the scenic beauty is the 2.5 kilometer lake that is situated inside the crater.
Upon reaching the viewpoint, everyone was wowed and amazed with the natural beauty of the crater. The first question I had in mind was, Why does the lake so blue-green? I then asked one of the tour guides and I was informed that it was a product of chemical reaction between volcanic minerals and algaes. Can we swim there? Yes but its risky, make sure that you know how to swim before you even try. You should also avoid drinking the water in the lake. Are there fishes in the lake? The sulphur content in the lake is so high that no underwater fauna can even exist.
Getting Ready to Jump
With Mount Pinatubo Trekking becoming one of the major attractions for locals and most of the foreign tourists who come to the Philippines, there are several travel agencies as well as tour companies that provide attractive tour packages to the crater.
It was almost 4pm when we left the crater, Going back is the easiest part in all hiking activities but for me I guess that’s not the case. My foot is literally aching that time and I cant wait to reach the jump-off point. We finally reached the 4 x 4 parking area in less than two hours. We headed back to Capaz to freshen up before going to Isdaan for dinner.
I was really impressed with the cleanliness of the area and the organized tour guides. The tour guides didn’t only made sure that everyone enjoyed the trek, they also made sure that all the trash will be brought back to the town for proper disposal – that’s what we call eco-tourism in its finest.
Loving the Lake by Journeying Pinay
- Wear quick drying trekking shoes instead of sandals to avoid sharp tiny rocks that will eventually hurt your feet while trekking.
- Bring extra set of clothes, light trekking gear, sunglasses, sun protection and extra food.
- Schedule your Pinatubo Trek during weekdays for you to enjoy the Crater area without too much crowd.
- Avoid scheduling your Mount Pinatubo Trek during the rainy season since there are increased chances of risk involved in it.
- You will be sweating a lot so make sure to bring at least 1.5 liter of water for the trek, there’s no store along the way.
Melo Villareal in Mount Pinatubo (photo courtesy of Oman)
Our Creed : Take nothing but pictures; Leave nothing but footprints; Kill nothing but time.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Trek:
Question : Is it really hard to reach the Crater?
Answer : No! If you are physically fit and you can manage walking for two hours then you can do it:)
Got Questions about Mt. Pinatubo Adventure? Post a comment below 🙂