"Mount Pinatubo Adventure Trek" Province of Tarlac by ngyaaaw

Province of Tarlac Travel Guide: 77 reviews and 379 photos

Pre-climb trip

If you're coming from Manila, ride a northbound bus and get off at Capas, Tarlac around the fast food area (McDo, Jollibee and Chowking) as that is where the tricycle terminal is. Take the tricycle (seats 2) from Capas to PDC in Brgy. Sta. Juliana.

Bus fare (with A/C) from Cubao to Capas = 150.00/ person
Tricycle fare from Capas to Brgy. Sta. Juliana = 200.00/ tricycle trip

Pre-climb expenses

There are two options when it comes climbing arrangements: DIY or have someone do the legwork for you. If you prefer to plan it all by yourself, here's a list of payables for the actual climb:

Conservation Fee = 50.00/ per person; (1050.00/per person if non-Filipino)
Local tour guide = 500.00 per group (NOT per person)
Rent for the 4x4 (seats 4-6) = 2500.00 per vehicle

So, if you're traveling with a group of say 4 people and you're all locals then each of you will pay:

50.00 conservation fee
125.00 for the local guide
625.00 for the 4x4 vehicle
TOTAL: 800.00 per person

If you opted to have someone arrange the climb for you then be prepared to shell out at least 1500.00. pesos. Since I had only one travel companion at that time, it was a lot cheaper to go with a group arranged by the locals. On our case, we had Jovy (09287813556) who did all the work for us. We paid her 1500.00 each which covered the conservation fee, payment for the tour guide, the 4x4 rental, lunch and face towel. She inlcuded us with three other climbers to cut down on cost. The PDC Spa Town (aka Pinatubo Spa Town, 09297025058) also offer the same services plus a free shower when you come back. There are some online and offline news about some locals charging extra on the tourists. As always, it is best to practice caution and if you feel that you're being ripped-off, do not be afraid to ask for the break down of costs and negotiate your way through it.

The 4x4, the hike up and the crater

The experience actually starts inside a 4x4 vehicle. We all hauled our lazy asses in the vehicle as the driver expertly maneuvered his way on the hot, rock-filled, sharply carved land. It was scary sometimes especially when we had to cross a stream of water. The land was so uneven that it was pretty common for the vehicle to be climbing up a steep angle and descending in a gravity defying stunt. It was a challenge to take photos as I had only one free hand. The other one was gripping the handle bar to keep myself inside the vehicle. And all these I had to endure for one hour. That was one bumpy ride! We were expecting a 40 minute easy climb. But as it turned out, the Skyway was under construction that time and won't be finished until the first week of December in time for Capas Day. That meant we had to do it the hard and long way (re: 3 hours!) under the scorching sun. But it was okay as the landscape was spectacular. The rugged rocks and toblerone-like lahar formation everywhere seem to have transported me to some place else. The dozens and dozens of rivers we had to cross was a blessing as the dry, hot wind made walking difficult. One of the things that captured my attention was the oozing flow of sulfur. They were all over the place, a reminder of the violent past that was the Pinatubo explosion. You'll know you're close to the viewing deck when you notice a change in the environment and temperature. The trees offered shade for our tired bodies and the cooler breeze only made us more excited on the spectacular view the crater has to offer. We continued to walk in what looked like a rainforest. All that was left was to climb a 142 flight of stairs to get to the viewing deck. And Pinatubo did not disappoint us. The view was spectacular. Words are not enough to describe how beautiful the place is. There was a noticeable hush at the deck. You start wondering how can something that used to spew killing red, lava now turn into a thing of beauty. Personally, the best way to experience Pinatubo is to be one with it. If you're a good swimmer, the crater is a good way to freshen up. Just be careful as it is VERY deep. If you're not very comfortable with your swimming skills, you can also ride a boat and explore the calm waters of the mountain.

The way back

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Retracing back our steps was relatively faster and easier. However, the water level in the river was higher and the current much, much stronger making it more difficult to cross. Good thing Kuya Aries (our guide) helped us in finishing the trek in one piece. Soon enough we were back in our 4x4 and traveling back the dirt road to the base camp. We were all dusty and grimy. Our legs were sore and tired. But those will not deter me from coming back to this paradise called Pinatubo.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:massive canyons, huge lahar formation, breathtaking crater
  • Cons:the skyway (shortcut) is always under construction. be sure to call ahead and check whether its usable or not. you don't want to be going there expectig a 40 min hike and end up clmbing for 3 hours.
  • In a nutshell:worth the trip
  • Last visit to Province of Tarlac: Nov 2008
  • Intro Written Dec 8, 2008
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