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Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Hike to Mount Pinatubo, Philippines

Mount Pinatubo, Philippines
Day Hike

Mount Pinatubo is an active volcano on the island of Luzon in Philippines. It is located in between the provinces of Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga.

I've always wanted to visit this incredible landmark , a cousin of mine went here few years ago before it got famous as a tourist spot. The 4x4 ride, the hike and its magnificent beauty is alluring like a slice of birthday cake laid out in a bed of roses. An illogical manner of describing something so captivating in my eyes. Anyways, we arrived in Tarlac a night before our booked activity and stayed in Blue Inn Hostel. It's not an inviting place to stay yet its the closest place to our meet-up point. 

2 May 2016 , Monday
Tour Operator: Tripinas Travel and Tour Ventures 
No. of participants: 3 persons
Package Rates: 2590 php ( 1 pax )
Package Inclusion:
Round trip 4x4 wheel drive 
Local guide from Team TRIPinas
All fees (no additional fees like “aeta fee” or “botolan fee” to pay on site)  All fees are included in the package.
Shower at base camp : 50 php (optional)
Reminders: (from Tour Operator)
There's a cutoff  time at the base camp, it's important to be on time at the meet-up point. If you're late, the tour will be canceled and your payment is forfeited.
There is no shop or restaurant in Mt. Pinatubo please bring your own packed breakfast, lunch and 1.5 liters of water. 

Mt. Pinatubo Itinerary:
0530-0600 Meet-up point: "Bong parking and showers” parking area, Baranggay Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac (base camp)
The base camp is an hour away from Clark, 2.5-3 hours from Quezon city and 3 hours from Pasay.
Meet the guide. Sign the mandatory waiver. Take blood pressure reading. 
0600-0630 Board 4×4 vehicle
0800 Start trekking (around 1.5 to 2 hours hike along the old route or take the 45 minutes short trek but route is currently not available)
0930-1000 Arrival at the crater of Mt. Pinatubo.
Relax, photos or early lunch (optional, food and beverage not included in the package).
1130 Descend down, trek for 1.5 to 2 hours walking through the old route.
1330 Back to the 4x4 vehicle.
1430 Back to base camp. End of tour.

Vacation Checklist: 

(As advised by tour operator)
dust mask (4x4 ride can get very dusty) - I used my neck scarf to cover my face.
rain gear/poncho - Weather is unpredictable. 
light jacket/windbreaker jacket - Sometimes its windy and cold in the morning. 
dri-fit clothes - Wear light and breathable fabric to lessen heat exhaustion.
trekking sandals - You will be crossing rivers its advisable to wear waterproof open shoes/sandals) 
extra clothes and footwear 
packed lunch, trail food (fruits, nuts) and trash bag
water (1.5L or more per person)
personal first aid/medications
National ID (or passport for non-Filipinos) -Local tourism will check your age. If you are more than 59 years old you need a medical certificate) 
Our tour guide is Kuya Sherwin, if you want to do ATV and other activities after the trek contact him through this number (+63) 9097784960 or find him in facebook search for "Winshe". 

We woke up early the next day to prepare for our hike, early check out and left our baggage with the hostel. Little did we know the hassle of getting to our meet-up point at "Bong parking and showers" parking area in Baranggay Sta. Juliana, Capas. There was no pick-up transfer included in the package so we were on our own. The tricycle ride to the meet-up place was 30 minutes away and cost us 300 php for a one way trip. 

The 4x4 ride won't be so exciting if you have the enclosed back part of the vehicle thou you're sheltered from dust, rain and the heat of the sun. But hey! How will you enjoy the great outdoors? I always wonder why most people are afraid of getting a tan or for some they would say its to avoid getting skin cancer. It got me thinking its just a few minutes ride even if its an hour ride just go for it. This kind of activity doesn't happen everyday unless you live in the desert or in the jungle, I wouldn't mind at all you will still see me standing at the back holding on to the metal railing for my dear life. Yes, we did that. We stood up, hold on tight to the side of the rover to avoid being thrown out of the vehicle. Bounce here, Bounce there, Smack here and Smack that. Howling, Laughing, Giggling and Goofing around at the back of the rover was all we did throughout the tour. 

We stopped by the so called Mt. Pinatubo Toblerone and meet a few Aeta kids. If I knew we will see them there I would have brought some candies, chocolates or some school supplies for the kids. They were sport enough to have their pictures taken with us , even bid us farewell with all smiles. The rover stopped at a certain point then off we hiked to the volcano's crater. There were no trees to provide shade along trail, be responsible enough to equipped yourself with sunscreen, hat and sunglasses. Most importantly don't forget to hydrate yourself with water. We reached the crater in no time, it was beautiful and looked so harmless. Sherwin said the crater had a perfect circumferences few decades ago before it's destructive eruption in 1991. It is considered as one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in history. I can't imagine something so beautiful possess such brutal characteristic. After we took snapshots here, jumpshots there and fuel ourselves with energy bars we took the hike back to the rover. While we were at the small hut having our snack Sherwin mentioned a conflict between the provinces regarding fees, territory and ownership with Mount Pinatubo. It's a senseless battle they shouldn't have this kind of arguments instead focus on ways to share the profit for everyone's benefit. I don't think so mother nature will like that, it's not a good idea to place bad vibrations around an active volcano. Well, that's just me saying. 

The hike doesn't require you months of training but at least jog or run a few weeks before the trip. If you want the experience to be easy and breezy then exercise a month before time. It's easier to enjoy your surroundings when you don't need to hold your knees and catch your breath. My climbing buddies were every ready for the hike, considering the fact we've trained for Mt. Pulag. Despite the training we've did you can't prepare yourself for the heat exhaustion. Along the way we've found rivers , small streams which got us thinking if there's a place we can go swimming. Sherwin wasn't able to mention one yet he knows one spot which is deep enough to have a dip for three crazy hikers. In unison our hearts go "Yeehaa" and our minds says "Thank goodness." It's not part of the tour it just so happens our guide is sweet and sympathetic with our need. Dipping ourselves in the stream was heavenly good against the intense heat of the sun. Wearing dri-fit clothes is the best outfit for the hike, by the time we reach the basecamp we were exceptionally dry and good as new. 

We pretty much cover everything with a half day tour which leaves us enough time to take a bus to Antipolo. There's no official bus terminal back to Manila from that side of town in Tarlac, waiting along the road won't guarantee a getting a bus ride. This kind of situation reminds me of a basic rule survival tip I learned as a girl scout of the Philippines, even taught in movies and in a reality TV show entitled Man vs Wild. It goes like this : if you're lost in a jungle without a compass or a GPS device, don't panic and keep calm. Just follow the river or the stream to find your way back to civilization. Let the water guide you as they say but this only applies in the jungle, how about in the city? Follow the water pipes? Laughing out Load- literally I'm doing this. I don't mind if you don't find it funny at all, I'm so glad I can say whatever I want here. Anyways going back to the topic we took a tricycle ride to the towns city proper. We spotted McDonald's! that's the mark of civilization in a city. I totally agree with myself. Right in front of McDonald's was exactly the bus point heading back to Manila. Drop off at Cubao and check in with Eurotel. We didn't get any prior booking besides they always have a room available as what my friend told me. The next day we proceeded to the v-hire (van for hire) terminal, a walking distance from Eurotel, took the v-hire then drop off a famous church in Antipolo. A few metres away from the church we took a tricycle ride to Julietta's Hanging Garden Resort. 

Mr. Blue Inn: one night for 1050 php
Tricycle ride from Mr. Blue Inn to Mt. Pinatubo meeting point: 600 php (two-way)
Tarlac to Cubao Bus Fare: 200 php per paxEurotel: one night for 1095 php (3pax) + 180 php add in for 1 hour extension


  1. Yay! Dito ka sa Philippines Tre? Haha. Lakwatsera ever! :D

    1. Hello Chim,

      Sandali lng kmi dyan, eh ang ganda kc ng pinas! ahahaa