Mt. Pinatubo is an active volcano located in Northern Luzon, at the intersection borders of Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga. It is an ancestral of the indigenous people, the Aetas. Thousands of them are living in the area, but it lessens to a numerous tribes after its eruption in June 1991. The area was a full of lahar and as well as nearby provinces. We never thought that natural calamity will create a new tourist spot like this.
After its eruption, some mountaineers explored the place and found the hidden beauty of Mt. Pinatubo. The most popular trail was the Capas Trail in Tarlac. In early years of discovery, mountaineers used to camp on the crater, until the government decided to developed the place as tourist attraction. That make it costly to have an overnight stay.
In 2009, when I first visited Mt. Pinatubo taking the 3 hour trek in Capas Trail. As a mountaineer, I was expecting for a virgin mountain having its natural ambiance. But I get disappointed that Mt. Pinatubo's Crater is already developed and looks like Tagaytay. But good thing it still retains its hidden beauty.
What do you need to expect in hiking Mt. Pinatubo?
First is the trail of sand that most Zambales mountains has. But Pinatubo makes the difference of them all. You will experience the wall of sand from your right and left that used to be “lahar” during its eruption and early years. Get up close contact with its local Aetas in the area. It’s a good idea if you will bring a simple token for the indigenous kids like candies or school supply for them. You will also experience the rough road extreme ride in a 4x4 jeepneys. And finally, the bluish lake and unbelievable mountain ranges around the hidden beauty of the majestic Mt. Pinatubo’s Crater,
Best time to go to Mt. Pinatubo:
Summer season is the best time to go to Mt. Pinatubo. Wherein Skyway is passable and you just need to trek for just 15 to 20 minutes going to the Mt. Pinatubo Crater. (Skyway is a road way going to the crater of Mt. Pinatubo.) You can still trek during rainy season, but it’s not advisable. You need to take the traditional trail for 3 hours because Skyway is not passable and it's prone for landslides. Most accidents happen in Mt. Pinatubo happen during rainy season. Were landslide and flash flood happens on the area.
How to go to Mt. Pinatubo?
Take Mc Arthur highway and pass by Bamban until you reach the next town Capas, Tarlac. From Capas, ask any local on how to get to Barangay Sta. Juliana. This should be easy because from Mc Arthur highway, it's just a left turn and the road would lead you to a Barangay Center where you can arrange for the guide, 4x4, porter, registration, etc.
Suggested Mt. Pinatubo Itinerary:
0200 ETA Mcdo Crossing Edsa Central. to Capas, Tarlac via NLEX. (Better to rent a jeepney or van)
0500 ETA Capas, Tarlac. Breakfast
0530 ETA Brgy. Sta. Juliana; finalize prior arrangements
0600 Board 4x4 vehicles; adventure begins!
0700 ETA End-of-the-Road; Start trek
1000 ETA Crater of Mt. Pinatubo. Explore the crater
1300 Start return trek
1600 Back to the 4x4’s parked
1700 Back at jump-off point
1800 Return to Manila
2100 ETA Manila
Make sure to bring light packs during dayhike.
Things to bring:
- Pack Lunch
- At least 2 liters of water
- Sun Protection is advice(Cap, Hat, Arm and Leg Warmer, Umbrella)
- Trail Food
- Camera, Videocam
Expenses as of April 2010: (Fare from Manila to Capas Tarlac and vice versa is not included)
• Conservation/Environmental fee – P300 per person
• Guide fee – P500 (for one to five trekkers)
• 4×4 rental – P2500.00 via Skyway (good for five)
• Skyway toll fee – P500.00
Overnight stay cost almost double the day tour. Simply because you need to hire guide and rent a 4x4 for two days.
If you plan to have a tour package, I suggest to avail Kaladkad Tour Club's cheapest Pinatubo Tour Package.