Trekking across Rocky Trail of Mt. Pinatubo
Mount Pinatubo is one of the Philippines' active volcanoes: one out of 22 to be exact. It erupted in 1991 after lying dormant for over 400 years, and laid waste to the land around it, causing billions in crop and property damage. The Pinatubo eruption is regarded as one of the most devastating natural catastrophes in recent times. Now, a couple of decades later, the people of Pampanga have managed to rebuild their lives and the volcano and the area surrounding it have become a premier tourist destination.
Pinatubo is largely regarded as hiking and trekking heaven. The jarring landscape is a result of the 1991 eruption, and traces of it are still evident two whole decades later. It is, in a word, breath-taking. Trip Guru suggests taking a 4WD as the best and quickest way to view the landscape. You'll pass by deep valleys, canyons in ash-gray that seem out of this earth, and serpentine rivers. You'll be dropped off at designated take-off points, where you'll begin a 2-hour trek if your aim is to see the crater and the crater lake.
Lake Pinatubo is spectacular, but be advised that swimming is no longer allowed. You may opt instead to have a meal by the lake and take photos of the surrounding area, as well as the pristine blue and green waters. On the way down from the volcano, visitors can pass by the Pinatubo Spa Town where you and your companions can be treated to a thirty-minute volcanic ash massage. It's said that volcanic ash holds many skin benefits, such as treatment of infections, blood disinfection, and collagen production. If a dip is really what you're in for, try the Bueno Hot Spring located in nearby Capas town. The two pools heat up to 45 degrees Celsius and 49.5 degrees Celsius respectively; best to go at night so as not to burn in the sweltering heat.
The best way to travel to Mount Pinatubo is by taking a bus that will take you to Capas, Tarlac. The trip will take around 2 hours and will cost around 250 PHP. From Capas, you can take a tricycle to the Tourism Office in Barangay Santa Juliana. From there you can rent an off-road vehicle that can take you to the crater for a fee of 3,500 PHP. In addition, a guide is required to join you on your trek, which will cost 500 PHP. Finally, there is an entrance fee to the area itself that costs 300 PHP.