Mt. Pinatubo is a distant dream of mine. Something that is off the bucket list, but a dream destination nonetheless. I didn’t have specific timeline as to when to visit this so called “beautiful disaster”, so as long as if time permits, I will. But time is not an ally these days. With side hustles doing well, it becomes more and more difficult to free the weekends.
However, there are days when the universe, though often sad and cruel, would offer a great treat that is sure difficult to turn down. And when these kinds of opportunities knock, we should make sure that we leave the door open.
How a Stranger brought us to Mt. Pinatubo
Our quick trip to Mt. Pinatubo was all because of a stranger we met two months ago. It all started with a lazy dayhike with Idas, Debby, and Anna. After so many weekends of planning, cancelling, scheduling, and rescheduling over and over again, we finally manage to hit back the trails one fine Sunday morning before the year 2019 ended. And as usual, we were catching our breaths and cursing the notorious Spartan Trail. The first part of the trail still feels like hell. Literally and figuratively.
The sun was happily grilling us that day – all because we’re too lazy to wake up early; hence began the hike past 8am – as we were ascending from Good Shepherd when we spotted a hiker who was resting at Monterrazas. Like how we earned friends through hikes, we had a short introduction – name, common friends, mountains hiked, and so forth – and later found out that he and Idas were actually on the same group who would be climbing Mt. Pulag by the end of January. Small world. Such turn of events made that dayhike even more interesting. So interesting that the supposedly three-hour hike to Pamutan became five. Slowpokes. In between those hours were stories of adventures, misadventures, exchange of travel hacks, and… side trips. Idas shared that her flight home was actually a day later than the rest; so she’s beginning to think as to where to spend her free day. And as if Heavens have heard her whims, Sir Arnold shared that he and his family were also schedule to fly home the same day as her. So what to do after a major hike? A recovery hike to Mt. Pinatubo.
Weekend Hike to Mt. Pinatubo
As I mentioned, I don’t have the luxury of time these days. So as much as I would like to hike Mt. Pulag once again, I can’t sacrifice my vacation leave for it. My interest in hiking now is not as intense as before; but it’s still there – resurfacing from time to time especially when things get too tough and I need a breath of fresh air from all the toxics in life. Instead, I decided to join their recovery hike to Mt. Pinatubo over the weekend. I flew via Clark and met the group in Capas, Tarlac.
Mt. Pinatubo is one of the most popular hiking destination in the country. After its destructive eruption in 1991, it has become a goal for many to visit its crater lake. Various trails lead to the iconic crater of Mt. Pinatubo – Sapang Uwak, Delta V, Inararo Golden Trail, and the easiest of all, Capas Trail. We took the easiest route and savored the beauty of what was once a disaster through the 4×4 ride on a lahar field surrounded by panoramic sand boulders and mountain ranges. From the jump-off, we took a short hike going to the alluring crater of this active volcano. Along the way we interacted with indigenous Aetas who settled in the area long before the eruption happened.
Mt. Pinatubo is truly a sight to behold. In fact, we kept on saying that such beauty felt like “you’re not in the Philippines”. But how much of the Philippines do we really know? We often hear these phrases as if our country’s assets were limited to beaches and islands. This is the reason why I encourage people to travel. To read. To learn. To see how magnificent this country could be – because it is when people see the natural abundance that we have, that we get to learn to care and help in preserving the limited resources that’s left.
Maybe we were fated to meet that stranger that Sunday morning because we need to rekindle this love for nature. With so many pressing issues these days, what’s always forgotten is the suffering environment. Or maybe we met that stranger because we have to restore our faith in humanity. That despite the conflicts and arguments, there’s always a chance for us to work together to create a better society. Hopefully.
But here’s what I believe is true: the mountains will allow us to meet people who will change the way we look at life, the same way we change theirs. Some we will meet again, some… never. However the universe unfolds this part of the story, remember to liken these forged relationships to Mt. Pinatubo – though a disaster, still beautiful.
How to get to Mt. Pinatubo
There are several travel groups that offer budget tours to Mt. Pinatubo from Manila which could range from P2000 – P3,000 depending on the inclusions and number of persons catered.
As for us, we booked a flight from Cebu to Clark then boarded on a bus in Dau Terminal bound for Tarlac. From there, we got off at Capas junction in front of Mcdonalds and rode a tricycle to our accommodation – Casa Hermogina (Allan’s Guesthouse) – which also arranged our Mt. Pinatubo tour the day after.
If you want a hassle-free tour, you may directly contact Sir Allan at 0919-861-4102 or message them on Facebook at Mount Pinatubo Base Camp at Casa Hermogina. For our package, we paid P2,400 each with inclusions of one night accommodation, breakfast, 4×4 wheels, licensed guide/sweeper, and other tour fees.
Mt. Pinatubo Sample Itinerary (with side trip)
4:00pm – ETD Dau Terminal to Tarlac
4:30pm – Capas Junction (Dinner at McDonalds)
6:30pm – Tricycle to Casa Hermogina
7:15pm – ETA Casa Hermogina
6:00am – breakfast
7:00am – ETD to Mt. Pinatubo via 4×4 wheel drive
8:40am – ETA jump-off station/ Start of hike
9:40am – ETA Pinatubo Crater
1:00pm – Back to accommodation
4:00pm – New Clark City (Side trip)
5:00pm – Capas National Shrine
6:00pm – ETD to Dau Terminal
I hope you also get to see the beauty that is of Mt. Pinatubo. See you on trails!