For tourists who are staying in Manila for 3 days or more, a trek up to Mount Pinatubo is a MUST. Mount Pinatubo is an active Volcano near Manila, which offers breath-taking views of nature. The journey up offers one a great geography lesson on the results of a Volcanic Eruption and opportunities for some great photos as well! 🙂
As the lands surrounding Mount Pinatubo are still recovering from the Eruption, access to the crater is only via a 4 wheel drive and trekking up the mountain. Don’t expect any vehicles or donkeys to bring one up to the summit. Due to the uncertain terrain, getting a guide for a trek up Mount Pinatubo is a MUST HAVE.
Standing at 1,486m, this was our first time visiting an active Volcano and the prospect of seeing Mount Pinatubo was definitely exciting.
On this trip, our home base was the Shangri-la at the Fort (Which is really a wonderful place to stay) and through our contacts, we engaged a reliable tour company that specialises in treks up the mountain. Our call time for this adventure was at 2am, due to the bad traffic in Manila. Waking up early and catching up with one’s sleep in the car, is the only way to beat the notorious Traffic Jams in the Philippines.
Facts about Mount Pinatubo
Mount Pinatubo is an active Volcano on the island of Luzon near Manila! Previously unheard of, and covered by a dense forest, Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, producing the 2nd largest eruption in the 20th century. It produced so much volcanic ash that global temperatures dropped by 0.5 Degrees in the years 1991-93.
The journey up to our starting point was not exactly smooth, as the treks are constantly changing due to the weather. Our 4wd which is not exactly new, even had to cool down from the challenge, due to an old radiator.
Due to the flow of the currents and the weather, the tracks are constantly changing. Volcanic rocks became obstacles which our guides had to clear in order to make the road accessible for our 4wd.
Check out the video below to witness first-hand, some of our challenges:
Is the Journey up the Mountain Tiring?
One does not need a special training regime to go up Mount Pinatubo. Unlike places like Mount Kinabalu, where training is required for such an adventure. s the distance covered is relatively far, one must make sure that one is well hydrated, and prepared for the distance. The Good thing is that the trip is really close to nature, so you don’t get any souvenir shops or any other retail shops.
As the journey to the top can take a few hours, trekkers must make sure that one is well hydrated, and prepared for the distance. Being close to nature and exploring new grounds means that one should not expect any souvenir or retail shops, to purchase any modern conveniences. City folks must be prepared to rough it out with tired and soiled limbs!
Although the Volcano erupted in 1991, the terrain is very raw and constantly changing. This is the picture of our starting point and our trek up to the summit was still going to be a few hours away.
As one can see, the trek up, was not that difficut as the terrain is relatively flat. Expect a lot of meandering streams, where water levels reach up to your knee. We did not wear any hiking boats, but we wore our normal track shoes for the trip. Needless to say, our socks and shoes were totally wet. If you are thinking of wearing slippers or hiking thongs, we will strongly discourage it for novice trekker. It is easy for stones and pebbles to scrape your toes and ankles, as the terrain is uncertain, and one does slip occasionally.
If you are new to trekking and thinking of wearing slippers or hiking thongs, we will recommend one to wear shoes instead. With slippers, It is easy for stones and pebbles to scrape ones’ toes and ankles, as the terrain is uncertain, and one does slip occasionally due to the slippery rocks.
As one gets closer to the top the terrain changes. The video below shows the initial terrain we faced:
Initial paths are wide and flat but as we reached closer to the summit, the terrain changes. Check out the 2nd video, to get a better idea of the terrain:
Rates for going up Mount Pinatubo
Weekend rates for going up the Mountain is much cheaper than on weekdays. This is because, traffic flow up the mountain is not very heavy, and we were the only 2 passengers on our tour up the mountain. For the both of us, we had to pay about S$200 per person to go up the mountain.
Weekend rates are cheaper, as there are economies of scale. Prices range from 2000 pesos to 2700 pesos and groups can grow up to 10 people (S$70). The place is a bit too undeveloped for one to venture yourself.
There is also a section of the course which takes you across some of the internal provinces. At this point, there is a small payment required to purchase a visa to cross the borders.
Is the trek up suitable for Kids?
Some Tour websites say that the Trek is suitable for kids from 8 years onwards. I think for Singapore kids, who are not used to the outdoors, I would put it as only suitable for kids from 11 years onwards.
This is because the journey is relatively long and one does feel the strain on the body. There are no horrendously steep inclines, but kids must have a suitable trekking stamina. Together with the afternoon sun, travellers will be punished by the heat.
Is Mount Pinatubo worth a visit?
Mount Pinatubo is not that difficult a climb and although it takes a full day’s adventure, the view is breathtaking.
It was definitely a good break from just touring the shopping district of Manila and we enjoyed our enjoy off the beaten track.
Check out the pictures for yourself!