Mount Pinatubo became well known because of its destructive volcanic eruption back in 1991 and was the second largest volcanic eruption in the 20th century. In fact, its massive eruption contributed to ozone depletion and worldwide decrease in temperature. Affecting 30,000 lives and billions of properties, Mt. Pinatubo was really felt. Devastating as it may be, but Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption left us stunning sights to which most of the tourists are enjoying up to this day.
Mt. Pinatubo is located in the middle of Zambales, Pampanga, and Tarlac. It is a two-hour drive from Manila to Capas, Tarlac town proper and another 30 minutes travel to Municipal Tourism Satellite Office of Sta. Juliana. Registration starts as early as 5 A.M. and cut off time is at 6 A.M. In the registration area, you have to fill up an information sheet and sign a waiver as well. This is where you have to pay for conservation and tour guide fees. Now, don’t get confused because there will be another fee that you are required to in Botolan area as you go your way to the crater since it’s a different municipal already.
You need to rent a 4×4 jeep to reach the drop-off point going to the crater and be ready for an hour bumpy ride! But worry not, because the sights along the way are stunning! Every view will capture your attention and you’ll get puzzled on where to look. It’s like you’re in a different world, seriously! While we were on our way, I kept telling to myself, “grabe, ang ganda!”.
From the drop-off point, you will start to trek for 2-3 hours depending on your pace. It’s better to start as early as 7 AM so that it’ll not be too hot to trek. There will be a lot of river crossing going to the trek but it’s not as hard as you imagine. There are some parts that are rocky road so you have to be extra careful to avoid tripping over.
After an hour of trekking, you’ll reach the Botolan station, which is the boundary of Zambales and Tarlac. This is where you have to pay different conservation fees. There is a sari-sari store available in Botolan station and you can also rest your feet before proceeding to another one-hour trek to the crater.
After a short trek from Botolan station, you’ll reach the stop over area going to Mt. Pinatubo. There are rest rooms and cottages available where you can catch your breath before proceeding. This is also the area where you can spot the famous Mt. Pinatubo’s signage.
The trail from here going to the crater itself is cooler since there are trees along the way and there will be more river crossings as well.
Ascending to the peak of Mt. Pinatubo is not that hard since there are already concrete stairs going up. You’re adrenaline rush will suddenly boost once you see the welcome sign of Mt. Pinatubo!
From that point, a breathtaking view will welcome you. When I got there, it was like I’m in a different place at all! It was a scenic view that you can’t take your eyes off once you laid on it. You’ll be amazed by what the eruption did to the place. It’ll take your worries away.
There are cottages in the area where you can have your lunch or you can do it under the shade of tree if you want. It’s free of charge, anyway. Just be mindful of your trashes and don’t litter anywhere. The tour guides bring their own plastic bags but still, you have to be responsible with your own trash. Also, don’t forget to share your packed lunch with your tour guide or whatever snacks you have.
Swimming is not allowed so don’t try to break this rule because your tour guide might get suspended if you do so. When we were there, some foreigner still broke the rule and it’s really disappointing since there is already signage saying “No Lifeguard. Swimming is not allowed”.
You can stay there long enough to recharge your energy for another 2-hour trek back to the drop-off point. You can take your photo ops or just enjoy the view since there is no cellular signal everywhere. Perfect time to spend your muni-muni time.
Pinatubo trekking fees:
3,000 – 4×4 vehicle rental (maximum of 5 passengers)
500 – local guide (group of 5 pax)
Fees charged per person:
300 – conservation/maintenance fee
700 – Botolan, Zambales Fee
Guests ages from 40 years old to 59 years old are required to present their proper identification such as passport or government issued IDs. For those who are 60 years and above, they have to present either medical certificate and health insurance or medical practitioner or travel insurance together with their identification cards.