Mt Pinatubo, Botolan, Zambales, Philippines

Exploring Mt. Pinatubo: A Journey to Nature's Majestic Crater

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking and Tips

Mt. Pinatubo, known as the "beautiful disaster", is known for its paradoxical blend of awe-inspiring beauty and catastrophic history. And never in my life I would thought of conquering it one day! 

I know that I am more of a beach person, but I am also very open to try something new and challenge myself. This is my second trek and it's the longest so far. Another one of the books.

Imagine this: Trekking through rocky trails, feeling the sun on your face, and the wind in your hair. As you climb higher, the scenery changes dramatically, revealing the stunning lake, picturesque cliffs, and rocky landscapes that seem out of this world. Or should I say, it feels like I am not in the Philippines? Surreal!

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking and Tips

What I love about this experience is that Mt. Pinatubo isn't just about sightseeing—it's an experience that leaves you feeling alive and connected to the world around you. Along the way, you'll meet friendly locals and hear stories about the mountain's past eruptions, adding a whole new layer of intrigue to your adventure. Because to be honest, it's really massive and will leave you curious on how the eruption happened.

In this blog post, I'll be sharing with you what it's like to trek Mt. Pinatubo, from the thrill of the journey to the unforgettable moments you'll encounter along the way. I'll also share a few tips to help you make the most of your trip.

Brief History and Location

Mt. Pinatubo, located in the Philippine province of Zambales, is an active stratovolcano renowned for its massive eruption in 1991. This eruption was one of the most powerful of the 20th century which had devastating effects on the surrounding areas, including massive ash fall, lahars (mudflows), and the formation of a new crater lake within the volcano's caldera.

Guided Tour

I joined a guided tour for this trip and the cost is 2,999 pesos per person. It's actually a joiners tour organized by Soul Trekkers, an accredited travel agency by Zambales LGU. The joiner tour costs 2,999 pesos per person which includes the transportation from Manila to Zambales and vice versa, environmental fee, 4x4 Ride, and the local guide. 

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

SOUL TREKKERS on Facebook:

I am not sure if you can do DIY. But for me, I can recommend that you just join the tours because it's less hassle and I swear you can't drive or commute afterwards.

We left Manila at around 11pm or 12mn and we arrived in Capas, Tarlac before 4am.

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

The 4x4 Experience

To reach the jump-off point for the trek to Mt. Pinatubo's crater lake, it takes a 4x4 ride through the lahar fields. These 4x4 vehicles are specially equipped to navigate the rugged terrain and river crossings encountered along the way. One thing that makes this experience a thrill! 

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

The 4x4 ride typically covers a distance of around 15-20 kilometers (approximately 9 miles) each way, starting from the Barangay Santa Juliana in Capas, Tarlac to the jump-off point.

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

We left the registration area before the sun rises. Maybe around 5am. We witnessed the sun rise along the way and while we're on the 4x4 ride. 

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

The ride offers an exhilarating adventure as visitors traverse the scenic landscape of Mt. Pinatubo's surroundings, passing through ash-laden valleys and crossing rivers before reaching the jump-off point for the trek. 

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

The Toblerone

The locals call this spot "The Toblerone" because it was shaped like the chocolate one. According to the locals, these mountains are made from lahar and it looks like this because of the landslide when it rains. It's not manmade. Still by nature, a God's creation.

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

It's also a stopover before you reach the trekking area and this is where you can take photos of the scenery and your 4x4 ride.

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

There are also young locals or Aeta's here. Our coordinator told that we can bring something for them like biscuits, etc. There are more of them along the way when you trek. I'm surprised they know how to socialize probably because of the tourists.

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

The Trek

The trek to Mt. Pinatubo's crater lake is considered moderately challenging, suitable for adventurers of all fitness levels. However, I still highly suggest that you prepare for this trip especially if you don't have an active lifestyle like me. 

It's advisable to start early in the morning like what we did to avoid the midday heat and to allow ample time for exploration at the crater lake.

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

On average, the trek covers approximately 7 to 10 kilometers (4 to 6 miles) one way. This distance typically takes around 1.5 to 2 hours to hike, but it can vary based on factors such as individual fitness level, weather conditions, and the terrain encountered along the trail.

Arriving at the jump-off point, we lace up our hiking shoes and set off on foot, following the trail that winds its way through the volcanic landscape.

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

As we ascend higher, the terrain becomes more challenging, with steep inclines, narrow trail, and bigger rocks testing our resolve. When you see the 500m mark, I'm telling you, you are still far from it. 😂 But with each step, we're rewarded with glimpses of the crater lake shimmering in the distance, a tantalizing reminder of the natural wonders that await.

The Stations

There are stations along the way to crater where the locals sells food and drinks. The last one is 500m away from the crater. Most stations have their restroom so no need to worry. However, there is a 10 pesos fee if you will use it. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the stations. But these are small nipa huts made by the locals and you can take a break there. 

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

The price is also quite high given that they transport the goods here. I bought one grilled hotdog and it costed me 50 pesos. I asked for a small size Mountain Dew but it costs 100 pesos and I have no cash anymore. Haha. But I was able to find someone who sells lemonade which costs 50 pesos which was really refreshing at that time. 

The Crater

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

Finally, after hours of trekking, we reach the summit—a breathtaking vista that takes our breath away. Before us lies the azure waters of the crater lake, nestled within the rugged crater walls. 

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

It is indeed a beautiful disaster, looks straight out of postcard, right? You can still go down at the lake but I prefer not to. There are more than 100 steps going down and going up. I chose not to because I want to conserve my energy going back. You can still take photos on the ridge if you don't want to go down.

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

It was a Saturday. Yep, weekend. I was not able to take a lot of photos here because I was really tired and it got really crowded already. You can line up to take photos. I stayed there for just 30 minutes and we already went back. 

Tips and Reminders

Plan Ahead: Before setting out, do some research and plan your trip accordingly. Consider factors such as weather conditions, trail difficulty, and necessary permits or fees. Prepare your body. 

Wear appropriate clothing and footwear: Dress in lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing suitable for hiking. Leggings, shorts, shoes, or trekking sandals, are okay. Wear whichever you feel comfortable. Don't forget your masks, caps, or hats, as it is ashy on the 4x4 ride.

Stay Hydrated: Bring an ample supply of water to stay hydrated throughout the trek, especially in hot and humid conditions. Consider using a hydration pack or water bottles that are easy to carry. Don't bring a big one.

Protect Yourself from the Sun: Apply sunscreen generously to exposed skin and wear a wide-brimmed hat or cap to shield your face from the sun's rays. Sunglasses with UV protection are also recommended.

Pack Essentials: Bring essential items such as snacks, a first aid kit, a flashlight, a fully charged mobile phone for emergencies, and a powerbank. Pack light but be prepared for unexpected situations. 

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

Respect Nature: Practice Leave No Trace or CLAYGO principles by disposing of waste properly and minimizing your impact on the environment. Stay on designated trails.

Listen to your Body: Pace yourself and listen to your body's signals. Take breaks as needed, especially during steep or challenging sections of the trail. Don't hesitate to turn back if you feel unwell or encounter unsafe conditions.

Follow Safety Guidelines: Observe safety guidelines provided by tour guides or authorities. Be cautious around steep cliffs, river crossings, and unstable terrain. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.

Hiking Sticks Available: Locals especially the kids offer the hiking sticks made of wood and it's worth 20 pesos. 

Bring Cash and No Signal for mobile: Bring cash as they don't have signal from the registration area. Only Smart but only after a few kilometers from the registration area. The rest, no signal at all. Therefore, Gcash or mobile banking is not available. You can really take your time and disconnect for a day while you are there. 

Shower Area at the Registration Area: After your trek, you might feel sticky and dirty. But no worries at they have shower area at the registration area. It's worth 50 pesos per person.

Enjoy the Journey: Lastly, remember to enjoy the journey and soak in the beauty of Mt. Pinatubo's stunning landscapes. Take time to appreciate the natural wonders and unique experiences that await you along the way.

Mt. Pinatubo Experience Trekking Guided Tour and Tips

I've always loved to try new things, to seek out adventure wherever it may be found. Saying yes to this trip was one of the best decisions I've ever made. It's been a journey of self-discovery, of pushing past my fears and doubts, and embracing the unknown with open arms.

It's a reminder that with determination, courage, and a willingness to step outside my comfort zone, anything is possible. Mt. Pinatubo has taught me that I'm capable of more than I ever thought possible, and for that, I'll be forever grateful.

So here's to saying yes to new adventures, to embracing the unknown, and to conquering mountains—both literal and metaphorical. Mt. Pinatubo, you've left an indelible mark on my heart, and I can't wait to see where the next adventure takes me. Until then, keep exploring, keep dreaming, and never stop saying yes to new experiences.


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