Pinatubo’s June 1991 eruption, which spewed more than 1.2 cubic miles of magma and sent an ash cloud 22 miles into the air, was the volcano’s final curtain call (we hope). Though it devastated the land and lives of people living around the volcano, trekking up the rugged, rocky and occasionally wet terrain has evolved into quite a popular activity for adventure-seekers—whether to swim in the majestic blue-green waters in the scoop of the crater or just to admire the natural beauty.
Located in the old town of Capas on the island of Luzon, near the tri-point of the provinces Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga, Mount Pinatubo is a three-hour car ride northwest of Manila. The journey there isn’t the most scenic, but it’s a small price to pay for the thrilling quest that awaits—magnificent landscapes, dramatic canyons, snaking streams and lush green forests.
Devote an entire day to exploring the mountain. The hike itself is only two hours, but to get to the jumping off point you need to take a 4x4 for an hour through 16 kilometers of rough valley which looks like the surface of the moon—if the moon had rushing rivers. It’s best to get an early start to your trek to avoid the harsh afternoon sun and the occasional afternoon downpours, which can make the return trip slippery and dangerous.
The Pinatubo trek begins with a hike through the raw and rocky terrain of Crow Valley Canyon, littered with boulders the size of a Smart car. The path continues through an undulating forest. There is neither a paved trail to follow, nor are there many flat parts. Instead, trekkers find themselves hopping from one boulder to another, sloshing their way across streams and inching their way along narrow stone ledges.
The seven-kilometer trail ends in a vast, turquoise lake cupped in the Pinatubo crater. To get to the lake, you need to walk down several flights of concrete stairs. The walk down is a breeze, but hauling yourself back up the 170 steps after two hours of hiking isn’t quite as fun.
Once at the bottom, you’ll probably see people splashing around in the lake, picnicking on the beach or even overnight camping. The lake is 85 meters deep, so even if you’re a confident swimmer, it’s advised that you strap on one of the lifejackets available at the site.
Book a Mount Pinatubo trekking adventure through various travel agencies. E-Philippines Adventure Travel and Destinations is a reliable agency to use (Tel: +63-2-668-1958, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.e-philippines.com.ph). They do everything from budget hiking trips to overnight camping packages.
About The Author...
Taylor is the Parents & Kids editor at City Weekend and a born 'n' bred New Yorker. She actually enjoys going to the gym and eating steamed vegetables, but she absolutely cannot live without chocolate.