Last February 18, 2012, I was finally able to do what I have been wanting to do for 4 years: hike up to the crater of Mt. Pinatubo. I was actually a bit worried then that I couldn’t do it because I had been sick for almost the whole of February, but I decided to push through so I could strike it off my bucket list already.
We joined Travel Factor so we basically did not have to worry about anything apart from ourselves as they took care of the logistics. Plus Raymond is our coordinator and we are such supportive friends.
Meet up was at McDonald’s El Pueblo in Ortigas at 1:00am where we waited for the van that would take us to Capas, Tarlac.
After about an hour of crazy/scary driving by our van drivers, we were able to get to Capas, Tarlac before dawn and got a good look at the jeep that would take us to the starting point of the hike.
The jeep ride took about an hour, zipping through the barren (not-so) flats of lahar and rocks.
We reached the place where our hike would start at around 8:00am. The first part of the hike was easy, effort-wise. It took us about an hour and forty-five minutes.
We got to the the starting point of the more difficult part of the hike so we decided to rest for a while. Resting for us means taking a few pictures and eating Cheetos.
We took the sign to heart and decided to shoot for the young age group. This is the more difficult part. I got more winded in the 15 minute trek than in the hour and 45 minute one we just finished. It’s mostly rocks and river going up. No one was talking on the way up because talking kinda hurts our lungs.
But, my, oh my, the view that greeted us at the top was definitely worth it.
We went down to the crater lake. This required a couple more minutes going down man-made stone stairs. The climb back up, believe me, was more difficult. We had lunch there, took pictures, and slept. Yes, we went up to the crater to sleep. Though we were able to take a dip in the freezing waters of the crater lake.
There is a hot spring, of course, but you have to ride a boat somewhere to the center of the crater lake.
After a couple of hours, it’s time for us to go back. And we saw this sign:
It basically said that what almost everyone is doing at the crater lake is, well, dangerous. The lake really is deep though. Three meters out and already the water was up to my chin (I’m 5’4″).
We went back the same route, took about the same time. The good thing about joining the Travel Factor trip was that part of the package was the use of the showers in the spa at the jump off point.
Got back to Manila at around 9:00pm.
A little history lesson: Mt. Pinatubo is a volcano that erupted in June 1991 after more than 4 centuries of slumber, killing hundreds of people and displacing millions more. The eruption, that lasted for 9 hours, was so violent that it spewed millions of tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere and lowered the temperature for the next few years of the entire planet.
For more information on the eruption, click this.
Now, Mt. Pinatubo is becoming a more and more popular attraction for both local and foreign tourists. It may be a bit difficult going there as compared with going to a beach but it is all worth it. It is something that I would do again.
Just a few things:
1. Heed the warning signs. The cliffs really do erode. On our way back it rained for a while and we witnessed a mini-erosion in the part of the cliffs a short distance from us
2. NO LITTERING. The place is really beautiful and we’d want to keep it that way. The guides recommend that you bring plastic bags to put your trash in. And just to make things clear, cigarette butts and small candy wrappers are also considered trash
3. Be careful. Though the guides carry around first aid kits, their kits are composed pretty much of Betadine, q-tips, and bandages; good for small wounds but useless in major injuries. You wouldn’t want your Pinatubo experience to turn to sh*t, I’m sure
4. The best time to go there is probably the months of January and February. It’s not rainy, sunny but the air is cooler, and the water is beautiful as I am told that there are months that the water looks murky and gray
5. Bring water, lots of water. And food. But don’t bring more than you can carry
6. Travel Factor is a group that organizes adventure trips. For more information of the trips they offer, visit their website.