Mount Pinatubo: 4×4 and Trek to the Crater

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Mount Pinatubo was the 3rd and last volcano on our volcano-themed road trip in the Philippines. Among the three, it was the most challenging to reach.

It was before 4:30 in the morning. The kids were still half asleep. We drove from Pampanga City where we stayed the night before, to Capas Tarlac, the jump-off point of our adventure. We would have to take a 4×4 vehicle in order to traverse the rough terrain to get to the volcano. When we reached Capas, most of the 4x4s were already gone, we were the last ones to arrive, and so we ended with a rickety-looking but nevertheless reliable jeep.

The 4×4 ride was an hour. After that was 5.5 kilometers on foot to the crater lake, roughly about 2 hours. Going back was the same – trekking down to the valley and then the 4×4 back to the jump-off point. (See our tips below for those who are thinking of climbing Pinatubo.)

We set off at daybreak. The journey across Crow Valley started quiet in the first 15 minutes before it turned into an extremely bumpy ride.
Here’s how our ride looked like. Pardon our anxious commentary.
Ah there’s the old reliable 4×4 and the team that’s ready to take on Pinatubo
The others had cool-looking 4x4s. There were about 40 that day according to our local trekking guide, Rudy.
The trail started relatively flat albeit big rocks and some boulders.
Rudy warned us not to touch the walls. He said they’re highly unstable. They did look fragile, soft and crumbly.
It was a wet trail throughout most of the trek. We had to cross several small streams or walk along one.
Like this
And this
There were two rest stops along the trail like this one
During the last 15 to 20 minutes, the trail started to steepen.
Just a few more steps
The boy who started this all. He was the one who gave us an idea of climbing volcanoes for our holiday.
This was the crater lake that formed when this sleepy volcano violently erupted in 1991. It is documented as the 2nd largest eruption of the 20th century* next to the 1912 eruption of Novarupta in Alaska**
Here are the walls of the crater
We walked down to the lake so that we could have a closer look at the water
Yay! This family trekked 3 volcanoes in a span of 3 weeks!
We are grateful for the chance to learn more about our beloved planet

This concludes our December 2019 road trip in Luzon, Philippines.




Some tips:

  1. Arrive at the jump-off point early so that you could choose your 4×4.
  2. Bring your own food. There was a pork dish, white rice and banana included in the trekking package but not so appetising. Fortunately we brought bread and jam.
  3. Bring an isotonic drink like gatorade and 100 Plus, in addition to your water. It’s a long, hot trek, the isotonic drink is important to quickly replenish your electrolytes and minerals requirements.
  4. You will need a mask for your nose and mouth. The 4×4 ride is very dusty. You could buy this at the drop-off point.
  5. We engaged the services of Mt Pinatubo Adventures Philippines. We do recommend them, but there are many other tour agencies as well.
  6. One last thing, wear proper hiking shoes please. Don’t be like me. I was wearing house clothes and espadrilles (ikr!) because I thought I would not be able to join them. My blood pressure was elevated the day before the trek (they’re quite serious about this, they do check your blood pressure at the jump-off point) so I thought I’d just wait in Capas. But on the morning of the trek my BP became comfortably low that I knew I would be able to handle the adventure. By the way, at the end of the trek, my espadrilles surrendered.

Here are the earlier posts on the road trip:

Three Volcanoes and a Road Trip

Mount Mayon: The Majestic Lady and the Rugged ATVs

Mount Mayon: ATV Summit Trail Video – All the Way Up

Albay Province: Hiking on Quitinday Green Hills

Albay Province: Jovellar Underground River and Dry Cave

Albay Province: Sumlang Lake and FarmPlate

Albay Province: Misibis Bay Resort

Camarines Sur: Ocampo Deer Farm

Taal Volcano: Serenity in Escala Tagaytay

Taal Volcano: Trekking to the Main Crater Lake of Volcano Island


  1. Glad I found this! I’ve always been waiting for good timing to go to Pinatubo as I heard it was a challenging trek. I’m determined to go for it perhaps during the cooler months (definitely after monsoon season).


  2. Glad I found this, and thanks for the tips! I’ve been stalling in going to Pinatubo because I heard it was a challenging trek. I’m determined to go – during the cooler months and after monsoon season.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yah definitely during the cooler months. The guides said that Dec-Feb is good, that’s why instead of going in June, we postponed our trip to December. I think you’ll enjoy it including all the challenges (oh what I didn’t enjoy was the dust, too dusty during the 4×4 ride). 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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