Hiking, trekking, mountaineering, mountain-climbing. So many words, each with different levels of difficulty, but all point to the same thing. For some reason, this activity has been an “in” thing to do in the Philippines for the past couple of years now. It seems that all my friends and acquaintances are going up mountains left and right. Who could blame them though? Aside from the amazing view at the end (and even during) each hike, you get to escape the pollution of the city and experience nature first hand! All these while spending some well-deserved quality time with your friends. Unfortunately though, not everyone is made for this activity. If you are someone like me who barely even moves and who call trips to the comfort room exercise, then this post is for you.
Last August 2015, I have been invited by my friends to take a chance at climbing Mt. Pinatubo. For those of you who don’t know, Mt. Pinatubo is actually a volcano situated in Luzon. Some people may know it to be the volcano that had a very huge eruption back in 1991 but it has long been dormant for many years now. The modern Pinatubo that many know now is a tourist spot and a site for nature-enthusiasts. It is with this background that we proceeded with our trip. The trip would be fun, they said. The trek wouldn’t be so hard, too, they said. Craving for another adventure, I joined in. And, man, did I have fun!
My friends and I met up in Taguig at 3am. We made sure to travel early so that we wouldn’t reach late night going back home since travel time would be long. We also booked a travel package at Travel Ventours (you can check their packages here: http://www.travelventours.com/pinatubo-tour-package.html) so that we would have a hassle-free trip. Everything was already included in the package that we availed: the transportation from Manila to Tarlac and back to Manila; the entrance fee, permits, and tour guide fee; the 4×4 ride; and the expenses of the driver. It was really worth every peso.
Now the thing about Mt. Pinatubo is this: you just have to endure a long uneven walk through its trail and a couple of steps-worth of a somewhat steep ascend. That’s it. This is why it was such an easy climb, even though I lack exercise. You get to enjoy all the good stuff without having to stress too much (as compared to climbing the other “easy” mountains people always talk about). Don’t be too confident though as it was still a very long and tiring trek (haha!).
Here are a few of my highlights from the trip:
In this trip, I was able to ride a 4×4 for the first time and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
The first part of the trek is done on a 4×4. You would have to spend about an hour travelling by 4×4 until you reach the starting point of the actual trek. The view was amazing from the 4×4. It was truly a great time to have your action cameras be put into good use. The experience would be a perfect addition to your trip video. One tip that I do have for you is this: make sure you have something to cover your face. On our way home, my friend got so covered in mud while he was sleeping because the bumpy trip made all the soil splatter on his face. It was a good thing I had a towel covering my upper body, else I would have suffered the same fate.
I was able to walk at a leisurely pace without grabbing onto sharp rocks for dear life.
Since the incline of the mountain is not so steep, it was easy for someone like me to walk the entire stretch of the hike without actually “rock-climbing”. There were instances though that you would still have to hold onto someone for support especially for crumbling platforms (since the trail is mostly made up of lahar, some parts of the trail may appear solid but they are actually very fragile so you still have to be careful). What’s refreshing as well about the trail is that there are places where there is running water where you can wash your hands or feet. That’s why another tip that I can give you is this: use a footwear that you do not mind getting wet in. Most of my friends wore trekking sandals and one even went so far as trekking in flip flops. Talk about being adventurous!
I basked in the magnificence of Pinatubo’s crater!
No words can accurately describe how I felt when I saw this up close:
It was this kind of view that truly made all the hardships we endured worth it.
My only request and final remarks to you though is this: if you want to keep this place wonderful, then please do not leave any trash behind. As what some of my mountaineer friends would say: “leave no trace”. Mountain-climbing is a fun and fulfilling activity but it will only remain that way if we take care of our mountains. Cheers! 🙂
Mount Pinatubo is an active stratovolcano in the Cabusilan Mountains on the island of Luzon, near the tripoint of the Philippine provinces of Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga.
Last eruption: 1991
Elevation: 1,486 m
Prominence: 1,486 m
Mountain range: Zambales Mountains
Parent range: Zambales Mountains