Mt. Pinatubo: Walking On Molten Lava

The 4×4 truck with a maximum capacity of six persons including the driver, swerved from left to right or right to left as it banked when a wheel finds a rut or sent splashes of water wetting the dry sand on both sides of a small creek.

Visitors squint against the morning sun, as they passed by local Aetas watching the parade of 4×4’s on that dreary Sunday morning.

Local Aeta's on their way home after a morning dip on the spring from the volcano
Local Aeta’s on their way home after a morning dip on the spring from the volcano

According to our driver, the day before visitors hit the highest number of 505. anong meron?.

Trekking and hiking is becoming a trend and Mt. Pinatubo provides the perfect bonding experience for friends and families who are looking for an adventure and good view.

A 3-hour ride from Manila, Mt. Pinatubo can be accessed via Capas, Tarlac as it is found on the tri-junction of three provinces namely Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales.

That day too yielded a lot of local tourist and a good number of foreigners – Asian and westerners.

A 4x4 truck cruising on the molten lava from the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo erruption
A 4×4 truck cruising on the molten lava from the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo erruption

On the almost 7km 4×4 ride from the jump-off, visitors will be left awed by the molten lava which had solidified into beautiful formations. Some formed towering hills rising to an estimated 10-20 meter height.

Since its eruption in 1991, vegetation had already established itself on those hills converting the almost desert-like view into a lush green panorama. It may have been an inferno of flowing magma on 15 June following its eruption but it now looked peaceful and picturesque.

A small creek had forged its way down the volcano providing the local Aeta’s with water for their daily necessities and a cool respite for visitors.

Water, giving life to plant and humans
Water, giving life to plant and humans

At the end of the established road, a resting area was built for visitors to cool off. The trek which can take 20 minute or less to the crater begins.

At the top, visitors are greeted by a cross, several resting areas, the famous Mt. Pinatubo welcome signage and the blueish water that occupies the crater.

The Mt. Pinatubo crater, a picture-perfect backdrop
The Mt. Pinatubo crater, a picture-perfect backdrop

A view deck was constructed to provide a good vantage point for visitors to bask in the beauty of Mt. Pinatubo famous for its beautiful view of the crater.

There is also an option to see and feel the water up close, a mere several steps down from the view deck.

Cameras clicked away non-stop as everyone tries to freeze the moment on a photo. It will soon find its way on Instagram or Facebook to be ogled by friends or family members who were not able to join in the fun.

Carabao's lazing around underneath the afternoon sun
Carabao’s lazing around underneath the afternoon sun

Adventures are best experienced when they are seen and felt in slow motion.

Watch your sweat as it drops to the sand and is gone forever. Hear the rustle of leaves as it sways with the breeze. Admire the naive and sincere happiness on the Aetas faces. Feel the fine dust to feel its refined qualities. Find respite in the coolness of the water as it washes away the dust.

IMG_6730

May the scenes, conversations and views be vividly experienced for an adventure to become what it is, an adventure.

*****

Sample Itinerary

3am – ride bus via Victory Liner, Solid North, Five Star or any bus that passes Capas, Tarlac junction
6am – arrived at Capas, Tarlac junction; ride tricycle to Brgy. Sta. Juliana (tell the driver to drop you off at the Tourism Office)
7am – register at Tourism Satellite Office; eat breakfast and buy necessary provisions i.e. water, lunch or trail food
9am – ride 4×4 truck
12am – viewing of the crater
2pm – start trek back to the resting area
2:30pm – start ride back to the Tourism Satellite Office
4pm – at Capas, Tarlac junction for the ride back to Manila

Budget

Php 172.00 – Manila to Capas, Tarlac Junction and vice versa
Php 100.00/pax – Tricycle to Brgy. Juliana (max capacity is 4pax) and vice versa
Php 1,150.00 – registration fee, guide fee, 4×4 rental and other charges
Php 500 – trail food, water, beakfast and lunch

As at February 2015.#

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