|a sight to behold|
Definitely not for the faint of heart...!
Conquering Mt. Pinatubo has been at the back of my mind for years. But never got around to doing it because I dread the trek on lahar valleys under the heat of the summer sun. Gone where the days when I'd say yes to a trek in a heartbeat.
Then, some friends suggested Pinatubo for May 1. Mustered enough courage to do it thinking that there is a shorter trail, so organized a group for the said day.
Just a few days before the trip, we were advised that "skyway" (the short trail) is still closed for repairs. So we have to do the 5.7kms trail and back! With no other choice, decided to go and just enjoy the adventure....
|4x4 ride across Crow Valley|
As the guide said, the scenic sight changes every year, especially after the rainy season, as the mounds shift and move or disintegrate due to heavy rains. So what I might have seen may not be the same by now or by same time next year.
...the last 20+ minutes trek up was cooler but made more challenging because of the narrow trail bordered with streams and big boulders. Plus, the kicker last few meter because of the steps that almost took my breath away--literally! It felt like I just participated in a Death March! whewwww....
But the sight when you are up the crater was just beautiful! The color of the lake was not as bright green (more of moss green) but it was so calm....
|...the 1st sight you'll see...|
Location: Borders of Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga
Mt. Pinatubo is an active volcano that is inhabited by the native Aetas in Northern Luzon. The most explosive eruption that happened in 1991 deposited pyroclastic materials up to 100 meters thick on all sides of the mountain and devastated a large area of Luzon with lahar flows and thick clouds of ashes that rendered most of Luzon pitch dark and nearby towns gone and buried by several cubic meters of lahar.
The ashfall was recorded as far as Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Nowadays, what was once a site of devastation has become an attraction to extreme adventurers. What was once a huge gaping hole in its crater is now a lake, Pinatubo Lake, with beautiful calm cyan waters on most days.
How to get there:
There are several groups oraganizing tours to Pinatubo. Fees usually include 4X4 ride, guide and transportation to and from Manila. Jump-off place is usually at the Spa complex in Santa Juliana, Capas, Tarlac.
If you are doing it on your own, there are buses that leaves for Lingayen or Dagupan from bus terminals in Manila, Cubao and Pasay. Get off at Capas, Tarlac, then take a public jeepney to Patlin, where you can take a tricycle to bring you to Santa Juliana.
If you have a car, you can take the North Expressway, exit at Sta Inez to MacArthur Highway (the old road to Baguio) to go to Santa Juliana, Capas, Tarlac.
If you are joining an organized group, it can range from P2,000 to P3,500 depending on the number of persons. Fees usually include transportation to and from Manila, permits, 4x4 ride, guide fees. Food and certificate of conquest are optional and additional cost.
For those doing it on their own, the fees are:
* 4x4 ride - Php500 (I heard they have increased rental fees lately)
* conservation fee - P10
* tour guide - P500 (for 5 persons)
* certificate of conquest - P50
It is advisable to get a local tour guide. Aside from being their means of livelihood, they are familiar with the terrain and is much safer.
What to bring:
* at least 3 liters of water per person (there are water and sodas being sold at the crater but at a limited supply and a costly P70/bottle/can)
* a very sturdy trek shoes or slippers
* at least an SPF50+ sunblock
* extra shirt or shawl to cover your face during 4x4 ride
* trail food
* waterproof backpack or bag or at least a ziploc for camera/wallet/cellphone camera
(oh by the way, there are no cellular phone signals in this place)
* extra clothes
* swimming attire if you plan to swim at the crater lake
* camera to capture those memories
* and the spirit of FUN and ADVENTURE....!
for those staying overnight:
* mosquito repellant
* more water or drinks
* tents and other camping provisions
* windbreaker in case of very cool nights