Behold: Mount Pinatubo, Philippines*

A Top Attraction in Luzon Landia

Tourists from all over the world climb Mount Pinatubo to enjoy its natural beauty. In fact, more than 3,000 a month were reported to have visited it in year 2012 alone.

How fast time flies! Twenty-one (21) years ago, Mount Pinatubo erupted in June 1991 becoming 20th century’s second largest vulcanic eruption. It spewed out more than 5 cubic kilometers of magma and sent an ash cloud 35 kilometers into the air. This ash and sulfur dioxide output hastened ozone depletion and dragged temperatures down by 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) for two years. The eruption was responsible for the death of at least 250 people and for $245 million (PhP10.1 billion) damages in crops, infrastructure and properties. The wrath and beauty of mother nature in one majestic site that is Mount Pinatubo, and that alone makes the site an interesting place to visit in the Philippines.

Getting There: Trek, 4×4, Camp, Hike & More!

A lot of blogs and websites and articles online will be more than happy to show you how to get to Mount Pinatubo. Blogger dude4food provides detailed photos of the trail that you almost feel like you are there traveling with him, while pinaykeypoint posted on her blog an overnight itinerary and even added her group’s bonfire photos. And here’s an excerpt from The New York Times article about how to get your way to Mount Pinatubo:

Around 100 kilometers from Manila, the historic town of Capas, in Tarlac Province is Mt. Pinatubo’s best-known gateway. From the Santa Juliana section of Capas, tourists follow a 25-kilometer trail to the crater of the 1,486-meter (4,875-foot) high volcano. Four-wheel-drive vehicles can navigate about 16 kilometers of the terrain to an hour-long ride and a two-hour hike, which can be arranged through travel agencies or directly with a local association of four-wheel-drive operators.

After hikers register at the tourism office’s branch in Santa Juliana, their vehicle travels through a military checkpoint at the entrance to Crow Valley. U.S. and Philippine soldiers still use the area periodically; when they do, tour vehicles are allowed to cross the valley only before 8AM and after 5PM.

Along the way, travelers may catch sight of the San Marcos and Tambo lakes, both created by the volcano’s eruption. Water has quarried the thick lahar into lofty cliffs and small plateaus in many places. And the trail gets rougher the closer it gets to Pinatubo, so the tour driver eventually parked on the last piece of navigable flatland.

As hikers start toward the “Old Way,” a gully that leads up to the crater, volcanic rocks called dacites and andesites dot the landscape called “batong buhay,” or “living rocks,” because they seem to grow larger as the nine-kilometer trail approaches its destination. Actual living things are seldom seen; on this day, hikers see only a herd of goats.

A wooden sign challenges hikers to complete the final distance in 20 minutes — or be labeled “senior citizens.” Beyond the sign, the path turns into an ankle-deep, tadpole-filled brook flowing into a hardy forest. Finally, the trail ends at about 50 concrete steps and the first view of Lake Pinatubo. Called Lawa ni Apo Malyari by the Aetas, the area’s aboriginal settlers, the lake is a turquoise expanse surrounded by high, uneven cliffs. Voila! Pick and shoot your view.

Been There: A Great Adventure With A Great View

Tripadvisor members gave an overall 4.5 rating (5 being the highest) to their Mount Pinatubo experience. As of today, it is ranked #17 of 821 must-visit attractions in Luzon, Philippines. Here are a few things Tripadvisor members have to say about their Mount Pinatubo experience:

Stijn from Ninove, Belgium considers Mount Pinatubo trekking as one of the highlights of his roadtrip in Luzon and wrote, “I highly recommend it to everyone who is a bit adventurous,” in his June 13, 2013 review.

Bubbles from Manila, Philippines advises everyone to visit Mount Pinatubo during the summer (around March – May in the Philippines). One major downside when visiting the mountain during the rainy season – around June  to August, is that the river and lakes can swell with little warning, so if the tours are not at all suspended, you might find yourself stranded in the mountain for hours to wait for the waters in the rivers/lakes to subside.

JZ of Shanghai, China wrote a review on May 1, 2013 and he put a high recommendation for the travel company they hired to visit Mount Pinatubo. He said their group went with TRIPinas who “provided detailed itinerary and expectations and they were reasonably priced compared to other vendors.”

And Alanpunter from London calls Mount Pinatubo “absolutely stunning” and ranks it second among his most loved destinations in Philippines, next to Banaue Rice Terraces in the North.

Have you visited Pinatubo recently? Why don’t you tell us about your trip? We’d gladly post it on the site and share it with everybody.

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*All photos by Ms. Joy Angelina ‘Geli’ Beltran Zaldarriaga

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2 comments

  1. Hey cool article! We’ve been living here in Tarlac and really close to Capas, but haven’re really trekked up the majestic volcano. Lets go together!

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