“A Wide Jewel of Blue and Green”

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 Mount Pinatubo is an active stratovolcano in the island of Luzon, it is  located   Cabusilan Mountains  87 kilometers (54 miles) north west of Manila, capital of the Philippines.

The mountain is covered by dense forest, that  keep it unknown  to many Filipinos except  several thousand indigenous  group people in the area, the “Aetas”   (the small, dark skinned, and kinky haired people belive to be the nearest descendants of the original inhabitants of the Philippines, who arrived  through land bridges that linked Philippines with the Asian mainland some 30,000 years ago) who  fled mountains during the Spaniard conquest the Philippines several centuries ago.

aFTERMATH OF 1991 ERUPTION

Photo Credit: WIKIPEDIA
(aftermath of June 15, 1991 eruption, photo taken August 1, 1991)

After more than  400 years, of no historic eruption.   Mount Pinatubo erupted last June 15, 1991. on the same day, Typhoon Yunya (PAGASA name: Diding)  struck the Luzon island.  The typhoon rains made direct visual observation of the eruption impossible. The eruption ejected about  5 billion cubic meters of ash and pyroclastic debris were ejected from the  crater  producing eruption columns 18 kilometers wide at the base and heights reaching up to 30 kilometers above the volcano’s vent, The biggest eruption since  of Novarupta in 1912 and some ten times larger than the 1980 Mount Saint Helen’s eruption.

Typhoon rains mixed with  the ash deposits caused massive lahars flow straight  the lowland area,  the major  rivers  and irrigation system  have been clogged with  pyroclastic  sediments. Power lines, road, bridges and other infrastructures were damaged. Houses and public school building, collapsed from the accumulated weight of lahar deposits.

Collapsed_hangars_at_Clark_Air_Base

Photo Credit: WIKIPEDIA
(Collapsed aircraft hangar in Clark Airbase)

The ash cloud from the volcano, covered an area of about 125, 000 kilometers (48,000 sq mi) bringing total darkness to the  central Luzon, The ash falls reaching as far as Russia and North America,  Reforestation projects destroyed with total area of 150 sq kilometers (37,000 acres),About 364 communities and 2.1 million people were affected, roads, government infrastructure  and communication system. Education  of thousand students disrupted by the destruction of the school building.  Agriculture of rice growing farmland  heavily disrupted with 800 sq km (200,000 acres),  for about 800,000 head of  livestock and poultry killed, destroying the livelihood of thousand of farmer that estimated cost of hundreds billions of pesos. At least 16 commercial aircraft including 1 jumbo jet  made damaging encounter while flying with the ash cloud.

TODAY

After the eruption of the world’s most violent and destructive volcano of the 20th century, it become one of the  famous volcano in the world.  the new tourist destination in the Philippines was born.  The crater  was gradually filled with rain water,  Lake Pinatubo was formed. Initially the lake was hot and highly acidic. Subsequent rainfall cooled and diluted the lake, and lowering the temperature.

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 Mt. Pinatubo is more of a tourist spot than a mountaineering destination,because of wide varieties of land forms that gave a wonder to the eye of every visitors. The serene crystal blue green water is an awesome  beauty created by nature itself.

Registration / Regulation:

All tourist are require to register at the satellite tourism office of Capas Tarlac, after signing the waiver and pay the applicable fees, they assigned  a tour guide for the trekking, and coordinates with the  4 x 4 jeep.

One of the important regulation is that,  all tourist must be in the tourism satellite office at least before 6:00 AM, and descent from the crater not later than 2:00 PM .

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Transportation ( 4 x 4 jeep )

Each 4 x 4 jeep accommodate 4-5 persons plus the driver and the guide. The driver give safety briefing about the ride, the time of travel which is around 45 minutes from the jump off (Barangay Sta Juliana) to drop off ( Lipit Station).

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 The bumpy ride is an adventure itself, it  cross  the endless  fields of volcanic sand, the lahar cliffs and streams.

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The unique ash formation that formed into a hills is an exiting adventure experience.

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End of 4 X 4 ride.

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 Trekking start here. The guide conduct briefing. The trek takes 2 to 2.5 hours.

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 No shouting…

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 The trail

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 river crossing

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The magnificent landscape.

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 The last stop over, where tourist get some rest for final assault to the crater. The camp provided a comfort room.

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 Last 20 minutes trek, depend on the facing (Depend on the age)

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 Trekking time:

Young age  15 minutes
Middle age  18 minutes
Senior Citizen 20 minutes

Where do you belong?
The sign categorizes your trekking  capacity to how many minutes you spent in trekking,  (it might just for  fun).

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 Assault to the crater

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The much awaited view.

A  majestic vista  to behold.

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 The awesome view in the view deck. The majestic, amusing, amazing, incredible  view, more than beautiful than expected.

The gift created by the Sleeping Giant

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For closer look. Staircases going down to the main crater.

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 The local and foreign tourist enjoying the sand and the water of the lake.

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The clear blue green water is a temptation for the tourist to swim, A year ago,   the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology discouraging the tourist not to swim, the lake contains contains toxic substance such as sulfur, manganese arsenic and other toxic substance.  kayaking, aqua cycling and other water activities, where there is a direct contact in the human is skin is no longer allowed

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Lunch time. All tourist are advice to bring their own foods and water. No restaurant or any fast food in the place.

Best Time to Visit: 

The best time to visit the lake is during the dry season, from November  to May, and or seek a travel advisory on weather condition of the area. During typhoon and heavy rain the area is close to all visitors to keep out all tourist from any harm of lahar erosion and overflowing of the river.

 

The Nomads Aetas

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Aetas along the trail, better to give something (not money) like candy’s chocolate  and or some foods, as we prepared before our trip,  to let them feel the sense of importance.

Trekking Pinatubo, is not just an adventure nor fun, let open our heart and eyes by looking at them and compare  how happy and blessed we are.

 

 Cleaning  Up:

There are showers and toilets in the jump off (in front of satellite tourism office)Shower PHP 50.00, Toilet PHP 10.00

 

What to wear:
Comportable out fit (Dri Fit Shirt, short)
Rubber shoes/Rubber Sandals
Hat or Cap, Scarf
Sun Glasses
Raincoat or Umbrella

What to Bring:
Small Backpack or Bag for Trekking
Zip lock, or any plastic bag for water proofing of your personal  belongings
Small towel
Sunblock
Personal Medicine
Camera
Umbrella
Extra Clothing
Jacket, Poncho, Raincoat
Foods and Drinks
Trail foods
Foods
Drinks or water for trekking at least 1.5 liters minimum
Plastic bag for your trashes (Leave no trace policy)
 

Source of Information:

 Wikipedia