The mesmerizing beauty Mt Pinatubo sits near the tripoint of the provinces of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga. Famous for its crater lake that turns to various shades of mint, turquoise, and emerald green depending on the weather, the place provides a picturesque view perfect for people looking for a quick getaway near Manila.
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The crater lake was formed after the eruption in June 15, 1991, which was considered as the second largest volcanic eruption in the 20th century. The event was felt worldwide, causing the global temperatures to drop for a couple of years. Then after, the caldera was filled with water that created the crater lake. Today, the beauty of this stratovolcano causes a great deal of fascination towards tourists. People are admiring its interesting feature because of its ability to change color depending on the weather; taking the risk of hiking it during the rainy season will give you a lake in shades of mint, hiking it during summer will give you a turquoise-colored view, and shades of emerald will greet you upon having a couple of drizzles a day before the hike. I’ve already seen the beauty of Mt Pinatubo via a helicopter ride and in shades of emerald green, but I’ve never been fascinated in seeing it during the rainy season when the lake is covered in shades of mint. Indeed, the dreamy landscape, dramatically covered with fog was worth the extra effort to get to.
The journey to Mt. Pinatubo is an adventure in itself. One is required to ride a 4×4 jeep for about an hour passing through a bumpy road to reach the drop off point. The road has enough expansive views and opportunities to marvel during the trip. and you will have the chance to stop by at some areas for picture taking. Upon arriving at the drop off point, there will be a 7km hike to the crater passing through a series of rocky terrains and volcanic ash. Expect some river crossings, and it would be better if you would wear a proper footwear ready to be plunge in to some cold running water. The trail, however, is easy, and depending on your pace, you’ll hike for about 2-3 hours to the crater.
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Mt Pinatubo’s crater lake has pretty much everything you would want to see in any destination. Whether you’ll be there for some picnic lunch, or you just want to have a day in complete solitude, the picturesque scenery and the peaceful environment is just about the right element you need to forget the hustle and bustle of the metro.
How to get to Mt. Pinatubo
Victory Liner has regular schedule of buses that pass by Capas, Tarlac. You can either ride the buses bound for Olongapo or Baguio and tell the driver to drop you off at Capas Public Market. Fare is around Php 200.
From the Public Market, you can either ride a jeepney or hire a tricycle to take you Sta. Juliana. If you arrived early at Capas, better to hire a tricycle as the schedule of the jeepneys are inconsistent. Expect to shell out Php 300 for the tricycle ride (good for 3pax).
At the Tourism office in Sta. Juliana, you can then hire a 4×4 jeep for Php 3,000 (good for 5 people) to take you to the drop-off point. The ride is about an hour.
WHERE TO STAY IN ZAMBALES
Things to Bring
Scarf (for the dusty 4×4 ride)
Sample Budget/Expenses for Mt.Pinatubo Tour
|PHP 500||Guide fee
|PHP 400||Fare Cubao-Tarlac-Cubao via Victory Liner|
|PHP 300||Tricycle to Sta. Juliana|
|PHP 3,000||4×4 jeep ride (good for 5 people)|
|PHP 2,000||Per person/group of 3|
Suggested Mt.Pinatubo Itinerary
|04:00 AM||Estimated departure to Capas Tarlac
|05:00 AM||Estimated arrival at Capas Public Market
|05:15 AM||Ride tricycle to Sta. Juliana
|06:00 AM||Estimated arrival at Sta. Juliana
|06:10 AM||Register at the Tourism Office
|06:30 AM||4×4 ride to Jump-off point
|Start trek to Crater|
|09:30 AM||Arrival at the crater
|01:00 AM||Estimated departure to jump-off point|
|03:00 AM||Arrival at jump-off point, ride 4×4|
|04:00 AM||Estimated arrival at at the Tourism Office|
|Estimated departure to Manila|
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ABOUT THE WRITER AND PHOTOGRAPHER:
Hannah Cepe is a 22 year old Fine Art Photographer and solo traveler based in Manila, Philippines. Born with a keen eye for the arts and a passion towards photography, Hannah dreams of traveling the world and creating stories through her photographs. Follow her adventures on her blog TheSouloTraveler and Instagram @hannahcepe.