I had been wanting to go to Mount Pinatubo since 2011. Unfortunately, I was not able to find a companion to go with, since most tour packages require a group, not to mention it would be more expensive if ever it would be a tour by only two people.
Then the right time came. Last May 24, 2014, I, my husband and a group of colleagues were able to venture to an exhausting yet exhilarating trek to the majestic volcano. Our tour was arranged by one of our companion. We chose Mount Pinatubo Tour Homestay Phils.
, as they offer the better package than the other agencies we had sourced.
The agency has two tour options. Your group could opt to go on a public or private tour. We chose the private tour since we were able to come up with a group of 10, and have the van all to ourselves. Likewise, we were able to choose our own meeting place.
The package inclusions for both public and private tours are pretty much the same:
– aircon van transfer from Manila to Tarlac and vice versa
– 4×4 wheel drive ride
– local guide to the trek
– conservation, Aeta and local guide fees
– Certificate of Conquest
– free breakfast and lunch meals
– free 1 L bottled water
Our package’s rate was 2,250 pesos per person.
Our companions were picked up at our office in Pasay, then my husband and I were picked up in 7/11 Balintawak at around 4 PM. The travel was quite smooth, and we were able to reach Tarlac by 6 AM. At the jump off, the mere sight of the 4×4 jeeps increased our excitement to a higher notch. We freshened up first and then signed a waiver provided by our operator. After the registration, we were briefed about the trek and the safety precautions we should do to ensure a smooth and hassle free trek. While waiting for our assigned local guide and jeep, we decided to buy walking sticks to help us with our trek. Then we took a few snapshots before embarking.
Finally, our local guides arrived, and our group was split into two groups of five to ride the jeeps. At first, we wanted an open type vehicle, but our group was assigned a close one. It turned out to be a better vehicle because it shielded us from the heat of the sun :).
The jeep ride took more than 1 hour. The view were mostly barren land, some greens, few cows, and mountains. It was bumpy and dusty, but we loved it!
Once we made it to the “Toblerone” mountain (because its shape is like the chocolate brand, hence the name), we got off our jeeps and took pictures.
We arrived at the trek point at around 8 AM and decided to eat our breakfast first. Afterwards, we geared up and started our adventure. We walked and enjoyed the view. We were not allowed to shout because the echo might cause mountain erosion. We walked on different types of track, like sandy, muddy, stony tracks, and also tracks with flowing cold water (which was very refreshing to our feet).
We had a few pit stops along the way to rest for a few minutes. In one of the pit stop we had, there were Aeta kids playing. We gave them a few goodies and hang out with them for a while.
Thankfully, the weather was fine and cloudy. At least we didn’t get to experience the excruciating heat that was being felt in Manila.
Finally, we reached the final pit stop before reaching the crater. This stop had restrooms. Locals were also selling bottled water and canned softdrinks at 100 pesos. We rested here for a long while and ate some snacks.
A signage indicated how long one could reach the crater depending on age bracket:
We all felt like senior citizens already… 0.0
We took pictures before proceeding to the next course of our trek. The path was quite narrow and dense, but we became more excited because we know that any moment now we were about to see what we came here for.
Some trekkers were already coming back from the crater. All of them said that the view was beautiful. We quickened our pace, our excitement escalating.
And then, finally, at around 11 AM, we finally reached it! We all felt a sense of overwhelmingly exhausting happiness as we saw the sign welcoming us to the crater!
The view was breathtakingly beautiful! One can only wonder how this angry volcano wrecked so much havoc once, and then became so serenely beautiful.
A nice landscape was built around the area. There were people having picnics and taking a much needed nap. Cameras were clicking everywhere. People were taking selfies and jump shots.
We descended a very steep and winding stairway down to the lake. Upon descent, we took more pictures and stared at its beauty. Really, really beautiful! Too bad swimming was no longer allowed.
We ate our lunch there, rested, and took more pictures. By 1PM, we decided to go back.
We trekked back the same path all over again, so that meant another 2 more hours of trek. Our feet were already killing us! But, we had to go on. By the time we reached the jeeps, all we wanted to do was to take a much needed shower and rest!
Our driver asked if we still would want to visit the Aeta village. We decided to forego it, because we were already tired.
At the trek point, there were locals who offered shower rooms for a fee of 50 pesos. It was pretty decent, with a door and hooks for our stuff. The water was cold and flowing out on full blast.It was literally the best shower we had that day!
By 5 PM, we began our journey back to Manila. We arrived in the city around 7:30 PM.
It was indeed an exhausting but a great trek we’ll never forget!
To those who would like to go to Mount Pinatubo, the best time to go is during dry season, because it could get very dangerous during rainy season.
The following items are just suggestions to bring during the trek:
– ballpen (for registration)
– sun block
– cap, hat or turban to protect the head from the heat of the sun
– camera (make sure battery’s fully charged)
– personal medicine
– extra clothes and towel
– umbrella (just in case it drizzles)
For the foot wear, slippers are not ideal. Trekking sandals with straps are okay, but sometimes, tiny sand or stones could get into them. Although it could be washed away by the running water, it could still be a bit of a hassle while walking. Better to wear beach shoes or trekking shoes, since they are more fitting on the terrain,
and also more suitable to get wet.
Have an awesome trip!