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Climbing Mt. Pinatubo | Exploration to the Philippine Top Tourist Attraction







First, let me greet you a Happy Holiday.  The year 2014 is about to end and the adrenalin rush to explore more local destinations is just overwhelming and I am taking advantage of these holiday vacations. 

I must tell you that my interest on climbing mountains have already expired as I find this hard core outdoor activity a little bit difficult because of my seasonal gout, making climbing mountains almost impossible. I can still recall my 2013 year end climb to Mt.Mingan where I had my gout attacked that made my 6-hour descend from the mountain so painful that I have wished to cut my left leg off.

But it seems like I am not yet ready to retire from this hard core passion after I received a private invitation from Wyatt’s Kitchen asking if I am interested to visit Mt. Pinatubo and accompany his Thai boss, Jittima. 

I was even surprised with my answer as I did not hesitate to accept the invitation and immediately rushed to Genesis Bus Terminal in Pasay City and boarded the bus that passes by SM Pampanga then rode a jeepney to Angeles City where we met at IMEREX Hotel for a little breakfast.

We drove to Barangay Juliana, Capas, Tarlac and arrived at 6:00 am. We instantly noticed the local and foreign visitors getting ready hopping to the 4x4 jeep towards the foot of the famous volcano. 

  -Be joyful and not worry about the future as the real adventure is at today-

The 4x4 rugged jeep ride to the foot of Mt. Pinatubo
Since we arrived with no organizer or contacts in the area, we have to wait for other walk-ins to share the 5- seating  4x4 rugged jeep to spread out the cost of the transportation rental. But after waiting for more than an hour, Jittima and I decided to shoulder the cost of the jeep rental just to meet the 8:30am cut-off from the tourism office. The tourism office only allows visitors to leave the jump-off point until 8:30am as the travel (walking) to the crater will consume a lot of time.

The Heat is ON!

Dusts splattered all around as we drove into the vast desert plain made of lahar. It was only after a few minutes that we realized that we were passing through a huge river of lahar earthed from the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo back in 1991. The colossal channel has small rivers littered in the middle, flowing gently downstream. But according to our guide Reno, the water becomes bigger during rainy reason, eating and carrying away  huge volume of sands southward. But this massive and destructive natural phenomenon has brought beauty with it as it continues to change the topography and landscape of the whole area. 

The giant walls were like perfect sculptures, only majestically created by agents of erosion, wind and water. You will notice  a lot of castle-like formations, mountains and even some images that have resembled to the great pillars of Greece. Though it took us an hour and a half of dusty roller coaster ride, we have barely noticed the rough trip as we feasted on the gorgeous 20 kilometer of Canyon-like landscape. 

-It is in isolation that you will find your inner self-

Vast desert and sand (lahar) walls leading to the foot of Mt. Pinatubo

Our real challenge started when the 4x4 jeep parked to where it can no longer pass by. The walk was a struggle for us because of the scorching heat of the sun that was even intensified by the environment filled with sands and rocks. 

Our hobbit-like footsteps took us more than two hours before we reached the base of the crater. It was just funny seeing the public notice on our way to the crater saying that adults, from that point, would reach the crater in 18 minutes. 


But I have thought differently that the sign should be a little specific to (a) adults with longer legs that could really reach the crater in 18 minutes or less and (b) adults with shorter legs (that’s us) that walk a little slower and might reach the crater a little more than 20 minutes. Nah this just my rant over my short legs. It doesn’t matter anyway as the trail led us all to the famous crater lake of Mt. Pinatubo.

Mt. Pinatubo actually is part of the Municipality of Botolan, Zambales
We arrived at the nature park around 11:30am and the sun was already high. Our timing was really bad for taking pictures. Instead of rushing to take good shots, we sat down and rested on a shaded part and bought a 100-peso noddle soup from a local selling at the park.

After I regained  my energy back, we took the 100-step stairway down to the Crater Lake to better appreciate the view. The 6000 hectare crater lake was just stunning as it was accessorized by the caldera walls with different shades of growing vegetation. There was a noticeable yellow colorization on the shore signifying the high presence of sulfur in the area. 

The water was  crystal clear that would really entice everyone who sees it to take a quick dip to cool down from the punishing heat of the sun. Unlike the chilling Crater Lake of Holon of T'boli in South Cotabato, the environment around the crater lake of Pinatubo  was really intensely hot hot hot!

According to our guide there are also hot springs on the other side of the crater lake that can be reached by boat. There was quite a number of visitors on the shore of the lake that were all seemingly amazed, taking pictures in all poses they could think of. Well, if I am not that really tired, I would do the same.

-Mt. Pinatubo is just so beautiful, it could break the internet!- 

Gorgeous ladies in swimsuit rushing to the crystal water of the crater lake of Pinatubo.

The revelation of the day was when a group of European ladies came down and took off their clothes with only skimpy bikinis on. According to the park’s regulation, swimming into the lake is now prohibited  but these ladies just simply couldn’t resist the beauty of the lake and would do the craziest thing to have a taste of sulfur filled water from Pinatubo. Sulfur contaminated water is good for the skin though, so ladies please bare it all! Wink!

What shocked everyone, or should I say what shocked me most was when one of their companions have put off all her clothes, getting naked with all the butt scene and frontal nudity in public while changing into her swimsuit. I noticed the faces of the local guides and other male visitors froze down with jaws dropping into the sand. Hahahaha. It was a feast for them (us) that they cheered onto the ladies to just take their time swimming into the lake. 

 -We are all fools to believe of its outer beauty, but deep within hides a  killer venom-
I finally made it to the Crater Lake of Mt. Pinatubo
But all good stuff must come to an end that Jittima and I have decided to trace back our path to the “parking area” of the 4x4 jeep.  Trekking down was a little bit easier compared to ascending.  On our way down, we noticed the jolly Aeta children on their vast desert playground. They were so accommodating to even have their pictures taken with us. Ops, I think that kid just peed on me. Hahaha. Thanks for that blessing kid!
 
Aeta children, the heirs of this ancestral domain.
Our journey to the Crater Lake of Mt. Pinatubo took us a total of  4hour-14 kilometer trek that I considered as my longest walk of the year, beating my Mall of Asia epic walk.

Cheapest Way to Reach the Crater Lake of Mt. Pinatubo

If you are coming from Manila, take a bus bound for Baguio and asked the bus conductor to drop you at Capas, Tarlac, fare is Php 200++ (landmark is McDonald). Then take a tricycle and request for a special trip to Barangay Juliana, fair is Php300.00. You will alight at the satellite office of the Municipal Tourism where you will register first.

Opps NO RECIEPT!
The only thing I have noticed was that they don't provide a BIR registered receipt during the payment, instead we were provided with "Cash Voucher" where the itemized breakdown of registration was noted.  Check on the registration charge below. 

(Note that the cut off is 8:30am thus you have to arrive in Capas Tarlac as early as 6:00am.)

Particular
Unit
Cost
4x4 Jeep Rental
1 (3000)
Php 3000.00
Local Guide
1 (500)
Php 500.00
Conservation Fee
5 (300)
Php 1500.00
Aeta Share
5 (150)
Php 750.00
Total

Php 5750.00  (1150 per person for a group of 5)

It is recommended that you arrive in group of 5 or multiple of 5 to minimize the cost per person. The tourism will charge a group of 5 with 1150 each or if the number of participants is lower than 4 the total cost will be divided among the participants or you can choose to wait for walk-ins to share the expenses. I highly recommend to bring at least 2 liters of drinking water and enough food with you . According to our local guide camping for an overnight stay  at the crater lake is allowed with an extra day charge for the guide fee. 



5 comments :

  1. Everything has to end... In business there is the so-called diminishing return. What you've experienced is but a nature of one's body gradual "diminishing utility" due to sickness, or age. Yours probably is the kind of life style you're used to. I mean your food intake that matters. I don't know if I'm right. Anyway you're still young, able-bodied. You get more mountains to climb as you're accustomed to.

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  2. This is such a great post with some awesome pictures.Nice to go through this post.

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  3. I've been loving the mountains lately and one of my immediate destination is Mt. Pinatubo. The place is so scenic and you were able to have instant kids here.

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  4. like na like ko talaga ang hotness ng first photo hahaha

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  5. It is amazing how a tragic event could turn a place as wondrous as this.

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