Friday, April 05, 2013

Mount Pinatubo Trek in Pictures (Zambales, Philippines)

Trekking Mount Pinatubo
February 2013

Here's a travel guide in pictures on what to expect when you go on a trek to see Mt. Pinatubo's crater lake.

The gateway to Mt. Pinatubo Trek is in Sta. Juliana Capas, Tarlac, Philippines.  You'll know you've reached the right place if you see the sign above. Register right away and rent a 4x4 all terrain vehicle to take you the the trek start point.


It's advisable to arrive and register as early as 6am.  The place can get really packed during weekends and holidays.

The 4x4 jeeps to Mount Pinatubo.  Some have open roofs so you can soak in the wonderful view and all the lahar dust. (^o^)/ Yes, the ride will be rough and it will be dusty so if you have an open roof jeep it would be wise to bring a lightweight jacket and a mask (bandana/headware) to protect you from the sun and the dust.

Each jeep can only take a maximum of 5 pax.  We paid 1,200 per person.

While taking a closed roof jeep would spare you all that dust, you would be missing out on the wonderful view.  The ride felt like I was travelling with Frodo across Middle Earth.  It was scenic and beautiful.

 Racing with the Water Buffalos (Carabaos).  The locals use these Water Buffalo drawn carriages to transport items across the lahar (ash fall) fields.

 Just check out the view! Wasn't I right when I said it looked like Middle Earth? This could be our little New Zealand here in the Philippines.

 Aeta tribes, indigineous people in the area, set up stalls to sell fresh fruits while their children run around the lahar fields to play.  They like to pile rocks and make small pyramids around where they stay.

Awesome Lahar wall naturally created by flowing water from the mountain through out the years.

After a couple of hours ride in the 4x4 jeep you'll reach the Trek start point.  It's only a 1 Kilometer Trek to the crater from this pit stop.

Something to lighten the mood before your trek starts.  Time your climb and figure out where you belong?

Unlike the 4x4 ride, the trek trail is full of foliage enough to shield you from the heat of the sun.  You'll be passing by small rivers as well.  While you'll still profusely sweat on the way up, the trail is pretty easy to tackle.

And after trekking for half an hour, you'll be rewarded with an amazing view of the Pinatubo Crater Lake. The crater stop is well developed with huts and rest areas to shield you from the sun.

Don't forget to go down to the lake and lounge a while to enjoy the view.  You can even bring your own tent if you want to stay longer by the lake.

Unfortunately, swimming in the lake is no longer allowed since January 2013.  The Department of Tourism has issued the following travel advisory:

"This advisory herby serves as a WARNING to all tourist who intend to mount an uphill climb to crater of Mt. Pinatubo in Zambales via the jump-off point in Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac that the serene yet crystal blue lake thereat is meant to be a glorious and majestic vista to behold only to be charmed by its natural beauty; never to be treated like a resort playground for SWIMMING, KAYAKING or AQUA CYCLING.  The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has determined that the Pinatubo crater lake water which contains hazardous substances such as arsenic (As), aluminum (Al), boron (BO), chloride (Cl), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), sulphate (SO4) and total solids (TDS) may affect human health in various ways and may become fatal over an extended period of time. ..."

and I like this part where they included local culture in the advisory

"... After a physically stressful 2 hour trek, tourists are advised, instead, to lie down and rest awhile; if possible, say a little prayer before the deity of our indigenous brothers in the uplands called Apu Malyari."

Go out and enjoy The Philippines!



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