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Mount Pinatubo: Trekking on a Bad Weather

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Years after the big 1991 volcanic eruption that covered the entire Luzon with ashes, Mount Pinatubo has become an attraction due to its majestic beauty that holds the tragic past. Ever since I learned about Mt. Pinatubo, I always had that fantasy of trekking there myself. As much as I wanted to, I did not have many friends who share the same interest. If you’re planning on going to Mt. Pinatubo, you would want a large group with you for two reasons: (1) the more the merrier and; (2) the more persons in a group, the cheaper price per person. When  I got invited by an officemate to join him and his friends for a long weekend getaway at Mt. Pinatubo in Botolan, Zambales, I instantly confirmed my attendance.

August 29, 2015 — On the site, there were kids roaming around selling long kawayan sticks. At first, I thought I wouldn’t buy, thinking I wouldn’t need it. But before we get in the 4 x 4, I decided to get one. What is there to lose anyway, I thought. As much as I wanted to buy one from each and every aeta kid that offered, I only needed one.  These aetas may find it hard to sell aggressively mainly because of the language barrier, but they talk basic Tagalog. When asked to smile for the camera, these kids are used to striking a pose for pictures.

 

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Meanwhile, for the 4 x 4 ride, a group of 5 is needed to maximize the vehicle capacity. All 4 x 4 trucks must be on its way by 7 am.  One of my colleagues got stuck in the Tourism Office and was randomly asked to undergo the blood pressure test. Unfortunately, her blood pressure was high that she wasn’t allowed to go trekking yet. We waited for 20 to 30 minutes before she was permitted to go. It was an hour ride to the jump-off point. There was a brief stop at this point to allow tourists to take pictures of this range of triangles that looked like Toblerone white chocolates.

 

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Rocks are everywhere! What makes this trek exciting is that you will get tested on how fast your “diskarte” is on surpassing these rocks. When you trek on a non-summer season, expect a muddy surprise. The rocks were producing this rusty mustard color flowing in the sand. It was an indication of the strong sulfur presence of the mountain.

 

 

There is a big chance of meeting aetas along the way. Taking pictures with them are free, and they don’t really mind posing for the camera. Also, when you’re at the end of the line and you failed to catch up with the speed of your group, just look for the stone markers (stones on top of one other) and you know you are heading in the right direction. Trust me, it saved me from getting lost.

 

 

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There was a hut available for visitors who would like a shade while enjoying their lunch. The group we shared the hut with were eating boodle fight-style. We enjoyed our time as we stare at the beauty of the lake.  The crater lake was so majestic. The water was solid green in color, and it did feel like having a fancy landscape backdrop. Going back to the jump-off point, instead of avoiding stepping on the part where my feet will get soaked,  I took advantage of dipping my feet into the flowing stream water. It was so cool, so cold, so refreshing.

 

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Halfway to the jump-off point, heavy rain poured down. We were advised by our tour guides to stay at the elevated portion and wait for the rain to stop. The rain did not stop though. People were wet from head to toe, bags dripping and clothes soaking in raindrops. We were patiently waiting for almost an hour before the guides decided that we need to advance further despite the rain. With the help of Rangers, we were able to cross the streams with a strong current.  After a  long trek, we were back at the Tourism Office by 6:00 pm.

 

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Guide to Mt. Pinatubo, Zambales

 

  • Bring packed lunch and prepare an extra.  Share your blessings with your tour guide. Some guides do not bring packed lunch with them, so in case you have an extra plate, don’t forget to save food for him.
  • Wear cap, scarf, sunglasses, sunscreen. Expect a lot of dust and sunburn!
  • Your rubber shoes will definitely get wet.
  • After the long trek, relieve the icky feeling by wearing slippers; so your feet can breathe.
  • Waterproof your things. Cover your backpack with the plastic bag so in case it rains, you don’t need to worry about your stuff.
  • If you get easily dehydrated, bring an extra bottle of water. It might save you a hundred pesos. There is a vendor selling a 60mL-ish bottle of water or soda for ₱100.00. You don’t want to feel cheated while paying for that.
  • Along the way, you might get hungry. Eat up. Bring a banana or a biscuit. A chocolate, anything. You will need the energy to trek.
  • Choose the stick that feels light and comfortable. You might find it useful when you need an extra hand to help you. There are lots of rocks and weak sand you might want to test before stepping on.
  • You might get randomly picked for a blood pressure test. Don’t panic.  Especially if you look prone to high blood, the Tourism Office will require you to undergo the blood pressure test before allowing you to sign the waiver. If unfortunately your blood pressure was read as high, buy pineapple juice in the nearest sari-sari store, go to the washroom and pee, take a walk and relax. The Tourism Office will let you go if your pressure gets lower. Don’t get grumpy with the officer no matter how difficult they are to you. They decide whether you may go or not, better act nice.
  • Don’t swim in the lake as it is rich in sulfur and is not safe.

 

 

 

[tg_accordion title=”Itinerary and Budget” icon=”” close=”0″]Note: This was the suggested itinerary provided by Enjoy Life Travels for tour package minimum of 15 pax.

 

[one_fourth]Day 1 (August 29)[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]02:30 am[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]Assembly at McDonald ‘s Vito Cruz[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth_last]₱ 1,999/head (tour package paid before the trip)[/one_fourth_last][one_fourth] [/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]03:00 am[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]Departure from Manila[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth_last][/one_fourth_last][one_fourth] [/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]06:00 am[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]ETA Tourism Office, Capas Tarlac. Registration[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth_last]₱ 150/head (Aeta Passway Fee); ₱  25/head (Drinking Water); ₱  20/head (Kawayan Stick)[/one_fourth_last][one_fourth] [/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]06:30 am[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]4 x 4 ride to jump-off point[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth_last][/one_fourth_last][one_fourth] [/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]07:30 am[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]Start of 2-3 hours trekking[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth_last][/one_fourth_last][one_fourth] [/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]09:30 am[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]ETA Pinatubo Crater; free time[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth_last][/one_fourth_last][one_fourth] [/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]11:00 am[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]Brunch[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth_last][/one_fourth_last][one_fourth] [/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]01:00 pm[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]ETD to jump-off point; 2-3 hours trek going back[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth_last][/one_fourth_last][one_fourth] [/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]03:00 pm[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]ETA jump-off point; 4 x 4 ride back to Tourism Office[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth_last][/one_fourth_last][one_fourth] [/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]04:00 pm[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]ETA Tourism Office; start to shower[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth_last]₱ 10/head (Use of Washrooms); ₱ 50/head (Use of Shower)[/one_fourth_last][one_fourth] [/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]04:45 pm[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]ETD from Tarlac[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth_last][/one_fourth_last][one_fourth] [/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]05:30 pm[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]Side trip to Pampanga[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth_last][/one_fourth_last][one_fourth] [/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]06:30 pm[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]ETD to Manila[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth_last][/one_fourth_last][one_fourth] [/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]09:30 pm[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]ETA in Manila[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth_last][/one_fourth_last]

[one_fourth] [/one_fourth]
[one_fourth][/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]ESTIMATED TOTAL[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth_last]₱ 2,254/ HEAD[/one_fourth_last]

[/tg_accordion]

 

 

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