Mount Pinatubo has been on my bucket list for a quite some time after climbing Taal Volcano few years ago. I was intrigued that it became a tourist destination after the catastrophic 1991 eruption. My friend (and former teammate) and I availed of a joiner tour by Tripinas last November 25, 2017. I didn’t prepare for the trek at all (no hiking gear/sandals) although I brought a lot of snacks. Boy, I was in for a treat. Our day started quite early at 2:00 am, we met our tour coordinator, Mr. Tee at McDonald’s in El Pueblo Ortigas and took a 4-hour ride to Zambales. We arrived at the base camp in Botolan at around 6:00 am and were briefed about the 4×4 ride and trek. My friend to our assigned 4×4 ride along with 6 foreign tourists. I was looking forward to the 4×4 ride more than the trek actually.
The 1.5 hour or almost 2-hour ride was exhilarating as described on any other Pinatubo blog posts. We were given photo stops before crossing the rivers. We finally reached the base of the mountain at around 9 am and met our local guides. The first 30 to 40 minutes was pretty easy as we were greeted by the beautiful ash walls along the way. It became difficult (for me) when the trail turned into a very long stretch of slippery rocks, small streams and some steep parts.
We also stopped at an Aeta Village along the way. My friend and I were the “sweepers” of the group. It was only my second hike last year (not counting the first one as it was only a 30-minute hike to a tea plantation). We had countless of rest stops along the way. We finally saw the sign to the ‘almost summit or crater’ and had to choose by age. It says, young age – 20 minutes, middle age – 18 minutes and senior citizen – 20 minutes. I told our guide, “Kuya, senior 20 minutes lang? Sa amin, 1 hour yan.” After almost 2 hour of endless stops, we finally reached the summit, the crater lake and boy it was beautiful. We had to eat our packed lunch quickly and take some pictures as we were the last ones to arrive in our group. At the summit, Mr. Tee told us about the 1991 eruption and how the caldera was formed. We also found out that Mr. Tee is French and he’s been living in the Philippines for more than 10 years. I asked him, “Why our country?” and he replied, “Because I love Philippines. I love Pinatubo.”Our way back to the base camp had a minor glitch, our 4×4 ride broke down in the middle of the lahar desert. These things will always be part of the adventure.
If you are going solo or with friends, I recommend the joiner tour of Tripinas. Their Pinatubo package includes:
- Land transfers (van from Manila-Pinatubo base camp-Manila)
- Off road 4×4 wheel drive adventure
- Local guide for the trek
- Tour coordinator
- Certificate of conquest
- Use trekking sandals or shoes as the terrain is rugged, combination of rocks, sand, small streams and some steep ascents.
- Bring your packed lunch, trail food and at least 1.5 L of water.
- Extra clothes, cap/hat and raincoat, scarf or face mask for the 4×4 ride, small towel, sunblock
- Observe the Leave No Trace or LNT policy.