Mount Pinatubo is an active volcano in Cabusilan Mountains on Luzon, with an elevation of 1,486 meters. It’s on the tripoint boundary of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga. Mt. Pinatubo is classified as a “stratovolcano”, meaning they are the most dangerous volcanoes to humans and animals because they produce toxic gas and flying volcanic fragments.
On June 15th, 1991, the angry volcano exploded and killed over 800 people. Mt. Pinatubo released 15-20 million tons of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere and its ash cloud covered an area of more than 100,000 sq km. of Luzon. It was total darkness.
Manila is 100 km away from Mt. Pinatubo but the volcanic ashes reached our house in Quezon City. I remembered waking up and seeing my mom’s garden covered with white stuff. At first, my brother and I thought it was snow, so we went outside to check what’s going on. We’re all shocked coz the entire street was covered with white powder and we were told not to play with it coz it’s dangerous.
Today, Mt. Pinatubo is dubbed as “the beautiful disaster”. It became a popular travel destination for adventure junkies who want to hike and be up-close-and-personal with the active volcano. You’ll be amazed to see the stunning summit crater lake that was formed after its climactic eruption. The epic landscape will definitely exceed your expectations and blow you away.
How to get to Mt. Pinatubo from Manila
It only takes a day to see the beautiful crater lake of Mount Pinatubo. 2-3 hours drive from Manila, then 1-hour journey of a 4×4 jeep to the jump-off point, and approximately 2-3 hours trekking to the crater lake.
There are two ways to get there:
Private Car – You can use Google map or Waze on how to get Sta. Juliana Tourism Office, it takes 2 hours to get there from Cubao.
Bus -Head to 5 Star or Victory Liner in Cubao Bus Station. Take a bus going to Capas Junction, Tarlac. The bus ride would take at least 3 hours and it only cost Php180. Once you get to Capas, take a tricycle going to Sta. Juliana Tourism Office. Php300 for 45 minutes ride.
Register at the Tourism Office and pay the Conservation/Environmental fee of Php500 per person. They will arrange your 4×4 jeep, Php3000 for 1-hour ride to the jump-off point. Then start walking to the crater lake.
The Mt. Pinatubo Trekking Experience
We arrived at the Tourism Office at around 6AM to register then waited for the tour guide to start the 4×4 off-rode adventure. The blue jeep that was assigned to us was kinda rusty and old, but it looks like it can survive the rough terrain. The dusty ride was fun and exhilarating! I think I ingested volcanic ash coz my friends made me laughed so much.
The panoramic view was incredible considering that most of it was caused by the 1991 eruption. According to our driver/tour guide, the actual trekking used to be 20-30 minutes only. But since Typhoon Ondoy tore down the original route, the 4×4 trucks can no longer get close to the crater. Travelers have no choice but to trek the 7km rugged terrain to get to the crater.
When we got to the jump-off point, my friends and I started our 7km trek. It was pretty easy at first but I got tired after walking for almost 2 hours. We were all sweating like pigs but we didn’t really mind coz we’re all having fun. It was great to be surrounded by nature coz it gives us inner peace.
When we saw the welcome sign, we took a breather and captured some photos. Trekking Mt. Pinatubo was like being a contestant in The Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge. There were a lot of challenges you have to go through like crossing a few streams with cold water, stepping on big slippery rocks, enduring the punishing heat of the sun, and climbing the 50-step ladder.
When we finally got a glimpse of the stunning view of Pinatubo crater lake, we had to stop and admire it in silence. All the difficulties we went through was worth it. We sat at the edge of the lake and wished we have cold beers in our hands, she is indeed a “beautiful disaster”.
🚌 Bus from Cubao to Capas Junction (round trip) Php360
🏍️ Tricycle from Capas to Sta. Juliana (round trip) Php600/2
🚙 4×4 Rental for a maximum of 5 people Php3000.00/4
👨 Tour Guide Fee Php500.00/4
🍃 Conservation Fee (individual) Php500
Total – P2035/pax
3 AM: Departure from Cubao bus station
6 AM: ETA at Santa Juliana Tourism Office
6:30 AM: Start 4×4 ride
7:30 AM: Trek from jump-off point
10:30 AM: ETA in Pinatubo crater lake. Lunch
12 NN: Trek back
3 PM: 4×4 ride going back
4PM: ETA at Santa Juliana Tourism Office
There you have it guys, for those who are planning to do the Mount Pinatubo Day Tour, you can also book with Klook. They have a tour package that includes private transpo from Ortigas Center. Thanks for visiting my blog! If you have questions, please leave a comment down below. Thank you! 🙂
KT is a digital nomad who quit her job, bought a ticket somewhere, got a tan, fell in love with mother nature and she would never return to the normal life that society dictates. You can also connect with her on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @pinaynomad