Date of trip: April 30, 2016

Mt. Pinatubo is an active volcano located in the central part of mainland Luzon. It is within the political jurisdictions of the provinces of Tarlac, Pampanga, and Zambales. Together with Mt. Mayon, Mt. Pinatubo is one of the most famous volcanoes in the Philippines and possibly in the world, especially after its massive explosion in June 1991. According to Winchelle Sevilla of the  Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) in his interview with Rappler, this eruption was considered the second biggest volcanic eruption in the 20th century in terms of the volume of volcanic materials that it emitted, and first in terms of sulfur dioxide.  It covered vast area with lahar, while its ash plumes affected, not only the Philippines, but as well as other countries in Southeast Asia. The explosion of Mt. Pinatubo has resulted to a temporary decrease in the global temperature.

While the 1991 explosion heavily affected numerous communities within and outside the three provinces, more than 20 years after, the locals are now benefiting from it. The explosion has made the trekking experience in Mt. Pinatubo unique because of the lahar that covers  the  trail. Seeing the numerous photos posted by those who went there before, it really got me excited, and made sure that one day, I will also be posting my own set of wonderful photos of Mt. Pinatubo. So when a friend invited me to join their trip, I didn’t hesitate and immediately said “game!”.

My friends opted to get a day tour package to Pinatubo. Although it would be nice to have a DIY, we thought that it would be better to try it since the whole package was not really expensive and it would be more convenient for us since we didn’t have much time to plan the trip because of our work schedules.

We left early from Manila (around 3am) since we needed to start our trek by around 5am. Since it was so early and weekend, the travel from Manila to the registration site in Capaz, Tarlac took us just around 2 hours. After registration, we changed our clothes, then rode the 4×4 vehicle assigned to our group. It was really nice! Although it was not my first time riding a 4×4, it was my longest ride so far. By around 8am, we reached the trekking point, and therefore, we have to alight our vehicles. According to our guide, we could actually ride a little bit further but unfortunately, the rain was heavy the night before our trip, which made the trail less accessible to vehicles.

As I told my friends, Mt. Pinatubo was by far the best place I ever been. I am not sure why. When we started our trek, I could not take my finger off of my camera. I took a relatively huge amount of photos during this trip in spite the fact that our entire stay in the area was really short. I felt like I was not in the Philippines, actually more like, I was inside a fantasy world. The combination of colors was really amazing: gray sand and boulders, and green vegetation.

After hours of trek, we finally reached the crater lake. Again, it was really amazing how a supposedly destructive event could result to such a great and picturesque landscape. We had our lunch in one of the nipa huts near the crater lake. Then after few minutes of rest, we went down and got closer to the lake to take another set of photos. After an hour or so, we opted to trek back to the jump-off site since we didn’t want to get stranded because of the rain.

The whole trek was really exhausting but all of us agreed that it was really worth it. This is definitely a place that I would recommend to a lot of people, and surely a place I would be willing to return to.

When we left, we took nothing but pictures, we left nothing but memories.

Additional notes:

  • Don’t forget to bring water to keep you hydrated, sunblock or something that can protect you from the sun. Since the trail is made from lahar, it is really dry and hot. Shades are also limited along the trail.
  • There are rest areas strategically located in various parts of the trail, especially near the crater lake.
  • Comfort rooms are also available along the trail and near the “park” near the crater lake.
  • Cellphone signal is very limited starting from the registration site in Tarlac.
  • Upon entering Botolan, Zambales, another set of fees are being collected.
  • It is not allowed to trek going to the crater lake during moderate to heavy rain because of the flood of lahar.
  • For tour packages, kindly check various offers in Facebook since they are asking almost the same rate. The one we got was from Ms. Sonia Bognot. You may contact her through:
    • Mobile number: +639186021943
    • Email address: mtpinatubotour_bognothomestay@yahoo.com
  • Some of the meals being offered in the area are a bit pricey, especially those offered by the owners of comfort areas near the registration site. If you want to save, you could check other local eateries.
  • For those who are planning to stay in Zambales, you may check the hotels from TravelbookPH website by going to this link
  • Observe garbage in, garbage out. Pls help protect our environment.


Travel Guide    
Route Mode of Transportation Estimated Travel Time
ETON Centri, EDSA, Quezon City to registration site (Capaz, Tarlac) Van 2 hours 
Registration site to trekking point (Botolan, Zambales) 4×4 jeep  2.5 hours
trekking point to Crater Lake foot 2.5 hours


Estimated Budget (in Pesos)  
Tour package per individual (for a group of 5)* 1550
Botolan tourism fees 700
Food 200
*inclusive of entrance fee, registration fee, conservation fee, permit to trek, and van transfer from ETON Centris to Capas, Tarlac and vice versa, 4×4 jeep, tour guide


Itinerary (From the tour provider)

Meeting for van transfer
2:00 AM For those coming from Manila – Both using Private Car and Joining Weekend Group with Free Van Shuttle
4:00 AM For those coming from Angeles/Clark – Private Car
3:00- 3:30 AM Call time For those joining the Public Tour With Free Van Shuttle WAITING along NLEX – Bulacan, S & R San Fernando Pampanga and Dau Jolibee
4:00 AM Call time For those joining the Public Tour With Free Van Shuttle WAITING at McDonald’s Capas
4:00 AM For those coming from Angeles/Clark – Private Car
4:30-4:45 AM ETA at jump off point Sta.Juliana Capas Tarlac

4:30-5:00 AM Estimated time waiver signing-blood pressure checking. This will depend on volume of people.
Start of 4×4 trip
5:00 AM or Depending on volume of people. Estimated Time Start of Departure to Pinatubo via 4×4 jeep,travel for 1hr-1.5h [ extended depending on weather ]. No EXACT TIME- departure will start as soon as 4×4 jeeps-driver-guides were able to be assigned WITHIN CUT OFF PERIOD.

8:30 AM Arrive at trek point [ Earliest Time ], trek for 2 hrs-2.5 hrs up to crater or as early as 6:30 AM depending on the time you were able to leave the jump off.
*10:30 AM ETA at the Crater or as early as 8:30 AM depending on the time you were able to leave the jump off point
*11:30 PM Do your activities,brelax,bpicture taking,blunch or as early as 9:30 AM depending on the time you were able to leave the jump off.

Going back
ALL must trek down before 12 PM or as early as before 10:00 AM
* 2:00-4:00 PM – ETA jump off [ long trek ] or as early as 1:00-2:00 PM
Enroute back to your destination : Tavel time 2-3 hours going back to Manila depending on traffic.


Here are some photos during our Mt. Pinatubo day adventure:

our fearsome 4×4 ride during our Pinatubo tour
just hair flipping with the “waterfalls” behind
selfie with the awesome young members of the Aeta Community
Behold: Danger zone
passing by the sand walls
between green and gray wall of sand
Mt. Pinatubo
the large boulders along the trail going to the crater lake
mountain-like volume of dry lahar
short river crossings
short breaks
continuing the trek
young members of the Aeta community living around Mt. Pinatubo
entering Botolan, Zambales
more young members of the Aeta community
almost near the crater lake, the vegetation is becoming thicker as you get closer to it
river with relatively smaller boulders
sun-kissed trail!
the narrower trail, just few meters away from the crater lake
done with the last river crossing
just another ascend to the crater lake
the welcome sign to the crater lake park
the amazing and surreal view of the crater lake
just resting along the lake’s shore
taking a shot
one of the numerous nipa huts near the crater lake
our way back to the jump off area
lovers in Pinatubo ❤
another group of young members of the Aeta community that we met while resting on our way back
almost near the jump-off, where our vehicles are parked
at last! our vehicles!
4×4 riding! very fun experience!
just taking a photo of the amazing crater lake