Day Hike to Pinatubo Crater Lake in Zambales, Philipines

Hiking? No thanks. . I can still remember the muscle pain I got when I hiked Mount Manabu when I was still in college. Every step, I’ve been trying to catch my breath, it felt like it was yesterday. hehe. . So when this group of environmentalists from my alma mater, aka my LIT KALIKASAN family, asked me to go on a day hike with them at Mount Pinatubo, I really thought twice and my decision was actually more on saying no. . hehe. . But then I was compromised, we’ll go island hopping in Zambales the next day so I must come. Ooooh, I hate the fact that I never say no to beach getaways. . After a couple of SMS exchanges, I said yes. . Besides, i heard the trek is not too difficult. Haha, it didn’t actually take me days to change my mind. Just a split second after I’ve read the “island hopping”, I was already decided to go. . You know us – women!

And so I packed my things one night in January of 2013 when I spent a couple of weeks for vacation in the Philippines. We had a travel agency arranging everything for us from the van going to and fro, all admission fees and permits, 4×4 ride, trek guides and food for the whole day. The call time is at too-early-for-me-to-remember (around 2AM?), we met everyone in Cubao where a hired van that will bring us to Capas, Tarlac awaits us. We reached the 4×4 take off area at still-too-early-for-my-brain-to-function (around 6AM?), I felt better though after we had our breakfast before going to that start point.

We started off the adventure with a 4×4 ride going to the foot of the famed volcano. I gazed in awe at the beauty of this vast lahar canyon. It’s just so magnificent. It is true that the nature has its own way of balancing the good and bad – the volcano’s wrath in early 90’s has resulted to a natural attraction that wowed even the locals of the province.

had a quick stop in the middle of the 4×4 ride to take pictures. . . and of course, a jump shot! 🙂

The trek going to the crater of the volcano is about 2 to 3 hours hike depending on your hiking speed. Of course my hiker friends took longer hours because they are with an amateur hiker. . haha. . I was really grateful that they helped me on some paths that were difficult for me. I started to love hiking from that moment. haha. .

the rockstar hikers. . haha!

We reached the crater just in time for lunch. And we were literally blown away by the picturesque sight. We stared in awe at the crater 10x more than the lahar canyon. This is an awesome fruit of our perseverance. The dazzling water, the clear skies, all the elements of nature combined, it left me speechless, what I saw was breath-taking.

Finally! whew!

the much awaited rest time. . hihi. .
i know the water is soooo inviting. But i must warn you not to swim. it is actually not advisable to stay close to the lake because 1) it is very steep (if you’re not a swimmer), 2) the water has harmful substances that will have bad effects in your health and 3) remember that not all you see around are intact mountain soil, some are hardened lahar formations and anytime lahar rocks can fall off.

and there goes the jump shot. . again. . hihi. .
going down from the crater. the lines you see embedded on the lahar facade were actually shaped by rain.

At the end of this trip, I realized the worth of all the sweating, thirst, and breath-catching during the hike. I understood why hikers are addicted to climbing mountains. The view at the top is just magnificent. I would still think twice if I’m gonna get invited to hike again. haha. . I hope you find the scenic views so striking that this post will make you plan your trip to Mount Pinatubo crater lake sooner. Come visit Philippines. It’s more fun here. . 🙂

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