This was my gift to myself on my birthday last February. A day before my birthday, I climb a volcano.
This was a last minute decision for me. I wasn't supposed to join my colleagues at work on this. However, fate intervened on this matter :) One of them had to back-out due to some emergency family matter. So he had no choice but to sell out his slot to me. They got this ticket on promo from EnsogoPH for only Php2000 all-in that includes round-trip fare from Manila to Tarlac, food for lunch, 4x4 wheel drive, and guide tour. I simply can't resist the price plus it would be my first time to a volcano.
Our trip started in Manila at 2am. We left Manila at around 3am and I was trying to get some sleep for the next 2-3 hours of the trip. I haven't slept the night before and so with my gang. We were sleepless for the last 24 hours (we believe so!). But the excitement was our energy. We can't stop smiling and grinning with the idea of climbing a mountain and not just any mountain, a volcano.
Mount Pinatubo is an active stratovolcano located near the tripoint of the Provinces of Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga. It's eruption in the year 1991 was very much remembered not only in the Philippines but also the world. It was felt worldwide. But today, Mt Pinatubo is a destination for those hungry for some adventure and knows how to appreciate the beauty of nature.
The jump-off point is to ride the 4x4-wheel because it is the only car that can go through the very rough road ahead. And it is indeed very rough. One had to settled first some registration at the Tourism Office. Good thing, our package includes this so its our tour guide who took care of it. There were a lot of 4x4-ride waiting for us. We were assigned first on this car where the back is completely open. Basically it has no door nor any barrier at the back of it to block as at least from falling. Good thing, we were assigned to another car because the former has some technical problem. But we still did get some technical problem with the latter on our way back.
see how very open it is the one on the left compared to the second?
If I would to suggest what car you should get, if you have some asthma problem or don't want to breathe dust along the way, choose the closed one. But if you're up for extreme adventures, the open ones is the go but make it sure that the car can at least block you from falling at the back because there will be some path along the road where you'll go up and down to a more or less 45 degree angle. Though I don't think anyone will fall, so long as you have a good grip to hold on to.
very rough road along the way
It's a 1-hour ride to the starting point of the hike. After that, a 2-hour trek to the crater. Good thing, for the past 2-months before this adventure, I had been walking for more than a kilometer everyday. It somehow helped me prepare for it because I did not easily get tired from the trek.
starting point of the 2-hour trek
walking and walking and walking
passing through some cold river
we are nearing the summit :)
finally, the summit - Mt Pinatubo Crater :)
We reached the summit after 1-hour and half of trekking. We didn't get too much of rest along the way because we were afraid if we rest, fatigue will overcome us. We all decided to walk slowly and relax by enjoying the scenery. Though, a resting place was available along the way, we stayed there for like 10-15 minutes and walked again. Once you reached a stairs-path, you are less than a minute or two (perhaps 5, depends how fast you climb) to the summit. When we got there, I could not anymore take it. I was really so tired that I really one to stop but then my eagerness to see the summit is overpowering me to finish and climb those stairs. And sure enough, once I saw the summit, all the exhaustion from the trekking just went away. It's like its beauty gave me some energy I need. The place is so beautiful. A body of water in the middle of nowhere. It was so serene.
going down to the lake...
Another stairs to reach the lake. And it's steep with no handrails on any side. Its more than a hundred steps. It was easy going down of course, but going back is a different answer. Good thing the weather on that day wasn't scorching hot. Cool wind thanks to the cool February month. It was cloudy on that day. However, sunblock is still a must!
the resting place to eat lunch or get some lost sleep
swim or boat?
It's okay to swim in the lake but you are at your own risk. No watchguard to help during emergency. So better stick near the shore. You may also ride a boat a explore the crater. Php350 per person with life jacket and the boat is good for 5 people including the guide.
Going back down was easy enough. However, fatigue is starting to creep us. We have some rest along the way. But our determination to finish it is still there. Rain poured down, good thing we have umbrellas :) When we near the entrance/exit, we were very proud of ourselves for such accomplishment. It was indeed an achievement worth bragging.
the gang... we survived!
Our tour package was organized by Access8. They were accommodating and friendly. They always see to it our safety comes first. They made sure no one is left behind or out of their sight. However, I have only one problem from this trip. The place were we could at least clean ourselves after a day of climbing. We were dropped off in some area to clean ourselves. It wasn't in the Tourism Office rather its some house in the middle of nowhere. Though its near to a road area going to the office. I left my clothes for changing at the bus which at that time is at the office area. I badly wanted to change but I can't. So I end up cleaning my face, hair, legs and only able to change my clothes when we got to Manila. If only I knew that's how the set-up would be, then I should have brought along my clothes. Perhaps, the organizer should ought to tell some information that their trekkers need also to know like where they could clean up after. But overall, it was a pleasant day and would love to take other tour package from Access8.
I still haven't received my certificate from Access8. I called them this morning to verify about it. The problem is I was a substitute to the original list. Perhaps they have forgotten to change the name of my colleague to my name. I hope they could send it soon. I'll post it here once I'll received it to brag about it. hehehe!
To know more information about this tour, you could visit the site of Access8.