Chinitowanders: A DIY Solo Daytrip- Trekking to the Crater of Mt. Pinatubo

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Mt. Pinatubo is situated in the section of Luzon called Cabusilan Mountain Range also known as the Zambales Mountains. It became a highlight right after its major eruption back in 1991. That eruption was labeled as the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century next to Novarupta where its effects were devastating and felt worldwide. Now, although Mt. Pinatubo and areas surrounding it is still covered by lahar deposits, it has also become a tourist attraction of the country because of the jaw dropping landscape it has become. Adventure seekers, nature lovers and landscape photographers will surely enjoy exploring the site most especially its crater part.

How to get there? 

There are many  airline companies that goes to Manila. Manila will be your entry point in Luzon (Philippines) if you want to visit Mt. Pinatubo.

Trekking to Mt. Pinatubo can be done in a day. Since I opted just to have a day trip, I needed to wake up early to get the 1st Trip Bus schedule departure from Manila to Capas. I woke up at 1:30am and rode a taxi to the bus terminal of Victory Liner in Pasay but you can take any bus that will pass by Capas Junction. Buses from Manila (Pasay) going to Baguio, Dagupan, Pangasinan and Tarlac are some of the bus route that will take you there. I hopped on in a non-air conditioned bus that left the terminal around 2:30am. I paid 180 pesos back then. It was a 3-hour bus ride.I took the bus going to Baguio and just told the bus conductor to drop me at Capas (near the Capas Municipal Hall and Jollibee). As you alight at Capas, you will be then greeted with Tricycle drivers that will offer you a ride to Santa Juliana tourism office for 300php (its a fixed rate to all tricycle) one way, regardless of how many you are, maximum of 3 person per one tricycle. Mind you that from Capas, it will take you almost an hour to get to Santa Juliana.

Satellite Municipal Tourism Office
Tourists who wanted to see Mt. Pinatubo must register first at the tourism office and settle the fees below. By the way, these are mandatory fees and you’ll not be able to pass through the security of Mt Pinatubo without the approval of this office.

Note: The office is open as early as 6am and closes by 10am. Meaning to say, visitors must settle a ride going to Mt Pinatubo before the office closes. Visitors who’ll not be able to book a ride before that time will have to try their luck the next day. 😣😣

FOR SOLO TRAVELERS/JOINERS:

You may want to call the tourism office in advance for reservation in order for you to get a slot. Also, solo travelers/joiners are welcomed for this tour. Just call the tourism office ahead of time so that they can assign a coordinator/organizer that will include you with other solo travelers in a travel package form just like what happened in my case.

After the tourism office gave me the contact number to the coordinator (which I accidentally deleted. Sorry about that), I contacted the number and agreed with my package price as well as the meeting place where I would tell me Tricycle to drop me off.

I paid 1,900 to the Organizer with the following inclusion:

  • 4×4 Jeepney ride going to the campsite for your trekking start off point
  • 1 liter of bottled water
  • a local guide
  • set lunch
  • Registration fee

Not bad if you asked me. It was supposed to be 2,250 but there were 2 last minute koreans that joined us making us a total of 5 participants: 2 french nationals, 2 koreans, and me (a chinoy).hahah😁😁

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my Team. =)

I was thankful that I really call ahead of time to prevent from paying the 4×4 Jeepney ride all by myself. Aw

Contact:
SATELLITE MUNICIPAL TOURISM OFFICE
Ms Mai – 0947-3912134
capastourism.com

If you opted to go with your friends, these are the prices that you needed to pay when trekking to Mt.Pinatubo:
4×4 Jeepney Ride – 3,000 pesos (good for 5 pax)
Local Guide Fee – 500 pesos
Registration/Conservation fee – 450 pesos/pax

I arrived at Santa Juliana around 5am and waited in a resort that the organizer owned until 6am to get registered at the tourism office.

After the registration, I hopped on to the 4×4 jeep and started the ride. TIP: be sure to be seated beside the driver to have a good view and to avoid the scorching heat of the sun, as the back area of the jeep doesn’t have a roof. Approximately, it was a 1 1/2 hour jeepney ride packed with breathtaking views. I never thought that the destruction of 1991 eruption created a spectacular landscape. You can instruct the driver to stop anywhere along the road if you intend to take photos of the views as well as the locals and aetas that lives there. The aetas who lives there are really friendly, you’ll see them smiling and waving their hands as you passed by them. Smile back.😊

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Your view from you jeep. all of which are lahar.

 

After a very bumpy-fun ride, the driver drop us at a point where he said that was as far as the jeep can go due to the storm that happened recently that changed the geography of the land that made us trek a gruesome 2 and a half shadeless trek to the crater instead of the 30 minute normal trek. As a first time/novice trekker like me, it was very tiring. I always thought of when the trekking would end. Hahaha😁😁. My fault for not doing warm ups.

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Lahar as my backdrop..

After a few hours of trekking, I saw a sign that says, it will be just a 1km trek to reach the top. More or less it will be just a 20 minutes trek depending on your pace.

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I saw the sign and I open up my eyes, I saw the sign! Almost there! =p

As I’ve reached the top, it was all paid off. The fresh air, the crater, the view… it was a site to behold. That being said, a lot photo op happened. Hahah😁😄 though I don’t think photos will do justice to such magnificent view.

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Note: There are comfort rooms in the area.

Tip: Since you’re a solo traveler, pack light. Do not bring unnecessary thing as this will add a toll to your trek. Also bring some snacks. Yes, there are stalls on your way up however they sold it like 3-4 times of its original price.

After a few minutes of mesmerizing, we trek again going down and ended the trip back to the resort and had our lunch. Although it was one of the most tiring trip that I had, it was also one of the most memorable treks I had to date. Should I go there again? Nah, once was enough. Hahahah.😂😄

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