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  1. #1
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    Mt. Pinatubo trek Feb. 2016

    Hi all,

    A trek to the Mt. Pinatubo crater lake has been on my bucket list, so I'm happy to say that I've been there and done that!

    I don't post my pics or trips on FB, but I'll post some pics here to again encourage Philippine tourism! If ever you venture to the north, and are in the vicinity of Angeles City and its dubious entertainments <cough>, then you may want to do a trek to the crater of Mt. Pinatubo. It's good for a day trip.

    A little bit of history (with help from Wikipedia):

    Mt. Pinatubo erupted in July 15, 1991. It spewed a lot of ash & volcanic material to the surrounding provinces. Many homes, farms and livelihoods were destroyed in the following months. It also spewed ash to the neighboring US base, Clark Air Base. After a year, subsequent rains turned the caldera into a crater lake. That crater lake is a trekking spot & tourist attraction nowadays.

    I remember one of my former profs saying that the July 16, 1990 Luzon earthquake (mag.7.8) shifted the tectonic plates and this led to the build-up of steam, pressure & etc, culminating in the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo one year after.

    For more info:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1990_Luzon_earthquake
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Pinatubo

    Anyway, on with the pics.
    Last edited by katie23; 23-02-2016 at 08:59 PM.

  2. #2
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    For this trip, I teamed up with some other adventurers: 2 backpackers from Spain and 1 Filipino guy (who has trekked many mountains previously). I was the 4th member of the group. We were supposed to be 5 in the group, but the other Fil guy (friend of F), backed out. So we were four.

    It was a DIY trip and we met at the Victory Liner bus station in Cubao, Quezon City. We took a 2am northbound bus and got off at the McDonald's at the junction in Capas, Tarlac. We arrived at McD ~4am, had brekky and bought stuff for lunch, then hired a tricycle to take us to Barangay Sta. Juliana (which is more inland). The trike ride took 30-40 min. Then we registered, paid the fees, etc.

    Aside from a DIY trip, you can also do a Pinatubo trek via a tour agency. There are many agencies, among them Tripinas, Beatus Tours and Trail Adventours. I saw some Tripinas ppl during my trip. The agencies usually have a pick-up point somewhere in Manila.
    Last edited by katie23; 23-02-2016 at 08:33 PM.

  3. #3
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    Upon arrival at Sta. Juliana, we alighted from our tricycle and we were immediately greeted by these kids selling bamboo walking sticks for P20 each. Since we were all young & fit, then we didn't need those. Kids asked me to take a pic and I obliged.



    There were many other tourists/trekkers. This was one other group.


  4. #4
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    Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    Should be good, Katie. I was living in Malate when it blew, but drove up to Angeles the next morning to try to recover some very expensive gear from a warehouse on Clark before it got looted. The return trip to Manila took us 9 hours. I flew over the area in a small plane a few days later - unbelievable destruction. Later (a few months) I flew an ultralight out of Clark over all the lahar destruction.

    I would have asked you to come along, if you hadn't still been in diapers.....

  5. #5
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    ^That just made me feel REALLY OLD......

  6. #6
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    ^ Lol, Davis. I was a bit older than diaper stage when Pinatubo erupted. But re: the US bases, they're just history for me, since I didn't go there when they were still bases. I've never been to Clark, while for Subic, I've only been there 2x (once was a school trip). My family wasn't really affected by Pinatubo since we lived south of Manila, but of course I know of the devastation & catastrophe that it brought to people in Central Luzon.

    Continuing with the story...

    When you get to Sta. Juliana, you'll have to register with the tourism ppl (on the left side of the pic), then pay the fees. The guys on the right (in green shirts) are guides.



    Here are some "Juans" serving as guides...


    The tourism people said that for every 5 tourists, there should be 1 guide. I think even if you're a group of 10 or 15, you can't have just 1 guide only. This is to give jobs to locals who serve as guides (I think). It's a seasonal job - they only allow hikes from Nov to June (dry months). During the rainy season, they don't allow hikes for safety reasons. The guides also only get work mostly during weekends, when the tourists come.
    Last edited by katie23; 23-02-2016 at 08:50 PM.

  7. #7
    Member Baas Babelaas's Avatar
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    Looks nice Kate, more pics to come?

    By the way, on the way from Batangas to Manila we passed a nice sized looking mountain to our right - any idea which one it is?

  8. #8
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    You'll have to ride a 4x4 all-terrain vehicle for ~1 hour to get to the jump-off point. If you're a DIY group, you'll have to rent a 4x4, which costs P3000. They allow 5 ppl max on the 4x4. You'll also have to pay P500 for the guide & P450/pax entrance-environmental fees. This is an open-style 4x4.


    According to the sign, the crater is 25 km from this registration center.

    This was our 4x4, a yellow closed-type one.

    That's F, the Filipino guy in my group.

    I initially wanted to be in an open 4x4, but the guide said that a closed one is better. I was thankful for the closed one, because later in the afternoon it got windy with lots of sand blowing about.
    Last edited by katie23; 23-02-2016 at 10:12 PM.

  9. #9
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    @bb - yes, there are more pics. I'm not sure what mountain that was. I'm usually asleep along the way when I travel to Batangas. lol Maybe Davis knows.

    Some scenes along the way... a tourist bus


    Most tour agencies use minivans to transport clients from Manila, but I guess if you're a large group, then they also hire buses.

    This is a public elementary school, if I'm not mistaken

  10. #10
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    Now comes the wet & wild part.


    I was seated on the left side, behind the driver. PI is left-hand drive (due to the Americanos).



    Water buffalo (carabao) along the way

  11. #11
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    You'll have to ride the 4x4 vehicle for an hour or so. This "wasteland" was once filled with verdant pastures before Pinatubo erupted.

    More water buffalo




    Grasses trying hard to grow on sandy soil

  12. #12
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    [quote=katie23;3213548]@bb -I'm not sure what mountain that was. I'm usually asleep along the way when I travel to Batangas. lol Maybe Davis knows.

    Mt. Makiling. In Laguna. 1090 meters.

  13. #13
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    Some parts are a bit rocky... really bumpy ride in the 4x4.


    You'll have to cross some streams too.

  14. #14
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    After ~30 min, the vehicles will stop so that tourists can take photos. Here are some of the other vehicles. Lots of tourists that day.


    The kids are mostly Aetas (Ita), they're one of the indigenous groups here. They're small in stature and dark, similar to the Aborigines in Aus.

    A boy & his dog


    According to the wiki entry, the government gave Pinatubo (Zambales side) to the Aetas as their ancestral land.

    Comment from C, one of the Spanish backpackers - he said that in PI, most kids are poor but they are well-behaved. They don't beg or force you to give alms. He's been to other 3rd world countries, and said that in another country (Morocco), the kids threw stones at him because he wouldn't give money.

  15. #15
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    More 4x4 vehicles


    Photo ops

  16. #16
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    That's our guide, E - in dark blue shirt & man-bag.


    These are the 2 Spanish backpackers, B & C. C is prolly 6' or 6'1" and B is ~ 5'9". They've finished their studies (one part) and are doing some travelling before the next stage. One is travelling for 3 months, the other for 1 month. Kind of a gap year but shorter. (gap months?)


  17. #17
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    This area sometimes becomes flooded during the rainy season, so they don't allow hikes at those times.


    More Aetas

  18. #18
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    Some great views along the way


    Banana plants on the mountain

    Some pics are a bit blurred due to the moving vehicle, sorry....

  19. #19
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    More views



  20. #20
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    Some amazing rock formations. My pics don't do them justice.



  21. #21
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    Approaching the jump-off point for the start of the trek


    You'll pass some streams again



  22. #22
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    This is the jump-off point. All vehicles unload their passengers, who then start to trek. As I've said, lots of trekkers that day. Mostly young ppl in their 20s & 30s, but a few seniors too. Most were Filipinos, but there were some Koreans and whites too (both young & middle-aged).




  23. #23
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    This was our yellow vehicle & our driver, R.


    On with the trek!


    To be continued...

  24. #24
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    Thanks for the thread, Katie

    Still looking desolate. I would have thought that nature has come back more after that time.

  25. #25
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    Nice thread. I've driven past it a few times on the way to Subic.

    I think the desolation is because every rainy season the ash/mud shite shifts. They're called Lahars.

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