I had the chance to trek the mountains surrounding Mt. Pinatubo in 2017 with my friends/colleagues from Bangkok and Manila. I went to the Philippines in May to conduct a training to a new team in the office and during the weekend, we decided to explore the mountainous area wherein the last recorded eruption was in 1991. I was still young that time, but I could still remember the seemingly endless ash fall raining down upon us and the dark skies that covered the major part of the main island of Luzon.
It took me years after the last hike I did in an island in Iloilo, so I was practically out of shape when I took the challenge to trek the mountains to reach the crater lake of this volcano. Situated in the province of Zambales, it took us around 2 hours to reach Botolan, where a camp is situated near the foot of the mountains where we would start our hike. Honestly, I was scared because it has been a long time and I don’t know if I could do this. But with enough encouragement from friends and an early morning exercise before we embarked on the journey, I felt that okay, I could do this.
The hike took over two hours before we reached the summit, but I could say that it was all worth the effort. The elevation was a little more than 1400m, with several rivers and rocky paths, but as well as green plains and forests along the way. It was magnificent up there. The volcano used to have a cone shape, but a crater lake is now formed from the eruption that happened in 1991. We settled nearby to have our late lunch and about an hour rest.
Our trek is documented by the tour group we joined in. It can be found here and if you have an interest for the same experience, contact them through their Facebook page in the link.
Going back has also been an adventure for us because it started to rain. And since the eruption in 1991, most of the paths at the bottom of the mountain were still covered in ash that during the rain, this would become a river of mud. We were riding in a 4×4 vehicle, and the path was actually lost by that time. But the driver was skilled enough to navigate through the torrential weather at that moment and we managed to get out without any harm. As you can see from my main photo above, dark skies started to loom ahead at that time that our group decided to go back down to the base camp.
Overall, it was quite an adventure. Exhausting, but definitely worth the try. It was a chance for me to explore this part of my country, too, since I was already living in Thailand in 2017 and I was (luckily) sent to the Philippines for a business trip.
Before you take the trek up to these glorious mountains, you have to check the weather first. Eat a big breakfast and make sure to bring enough water, about 3 liters. I guess this will be heavy, but I suggest to pack your bag light, with only some extra shirt and small towel for personal hygiene, energy bars and lunch. Put on some sunscreen and be protected from the hot weather. Wear sturdy shoes that you can also use across rivers and streams. This is a one-day trip only, so you don’t have to think about camping.
Have you been to Mt. Pinatubo? What are your experiences in trekking? Sound off in the comments below. 🙂