Hiking in Mt. Pinatubo? 3 Reasons You Should!
If there is one summit that hikers in the Philippines want to reach, that will be Mt. Pinatubo, an active stratovolcano in the Cabusilan Mountains on the island of Luzon, near the tripoint of the Philippine provinces of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga. Despite the devastation its eruption brought to the lives and livelihoods of the Pampangeños way back in 1991, trekking the Mt. Pinatubo remained to be in the bucket list of mountain climbers. Why not? There are many reasons it is a must to do hiking in the once dormant volcano.
1. Seeing the magnificent crater lake
For one, the eruption left a chaotically beautiful crater lake that every climber would love to see after a tiring trek. The lake is 2.7 kilometers wide and 87 meters deep. Some parts of the lake are cold while some are warm. It is dubbed as ‘a wide jewel of blue and green; it is like a postcard scene that will leave you in awe. Indeed, the water is so inviting, but swimming at the lake is not recommended. There is a sort of a viewing deck for up-close appreciation of the scenery. You can take photos from here. A boat ride is offered for Php350 per person for one hour (back and forth). Riding a boat is the best way to view the other part of the lake. Life vests are provided to the riders. The other side has the best view of the entire crater lake.
2. Hiking towards the crater lake
Mt. Pinatubo became a popular bush walking destination a few years after it erupted. Today though, there are other ways to go to the lake such as an ATV ride. Some opts for a 4x4 jeep ride since it is more cost-effective this way. Further, there is a trail called Skyway, which was specifically built to accommodate 4 wheel drives. Skyway effectively shortens the trek by almost 2 hours. This draw adventure-seekers closer to the lake. Take note, however, that jeeps are open and can get dusty particularly when passing through the ashland. Make sure to bring some face protection with you such as a mask or a bandana. The ride is bumpy as well.
3. Burning calories along the way
Skyway is the fastest route although you still need to take a short hike to reach the lake. If you are up for more workout, then you can always take the Old Way. The regular route is a 5-kilometer trail that lasts from one hour or two, depending on your speed and agility. Nevertheless, the total trek time is 4 hours. Wear trail shoes or trekking sandals. You’ll pass through Crow Valley canyon and some water streams. It is not advisable to drink from the shallow rivers, so bring at least 2 liters of water with you. Bring energy bars also, or anything as replenishments.
The best times to visit the crater lake is during the dry season when the trail can get hot and sweaty. Although this means losing some weight, it may become uncomfortable. Along the way, you will get to see an Aeta village where you can interact with the natives. There is also some lush greeneries that strike a stark contrast against the ashland. Great for taking photos as well. Evidently, the hike upwards Mt. Pinatubo is always worth it. The crater lake may be the highlight of the climb. However, there are simple pleasures that you will see while trekking. Not to mention, the trek itself has tremendous physical benefits regardless of which route you take.
By Jeric Cantil