How I DAREd trekking Mt. Pinatubo

(Super late post!!! I did not realize how I forgot to blog about our trip to the majestic Mt. Pinatubo until now. That being said, let’s now move on to the meat of the entry. 🙂 )

I have already trekked Mt. Pinatubo a few years ago with running buddy Ron. This time, the trek was with wifee and her newly-formed outdoor-slash-travel group DARE Travel. DARE Travel stands Discover Adventure, Recreation, and Excitement! And for their very first stint, the group decided to go to the infamous Mt. Pinatubo last Wednesday, November 18, 2015, APEC holiday.

There was quite a number of participants, thus, DARE decided to have two meet-up points: Makati, for those coming from the south, and McDonald’s Centris, for those coming from the North. We met the participants coming from the north at around 2:30 am, and by 3:00 am, we were on our way to the Mt. Pinatubo jump-off point at Brgy. Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac.

We arrived at around 6:00 am at the jump-off point. There, the rest of the DARE team introduced themselves to us. After a few introductions, they took care of the registration, and everyone was advised to have their own ceremony of stretching before the big trek began.

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The participants (image grabbed from DARE Travel Facebook Page)

The first part of the entire trek consisted of an hour-long 4×4 truck ride. The 20-km ride took us to the parts of the province engulfed by lahar during the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption. We also passed by some parts which are regularly used by the US and Philippine Air Force in their Balikatan exercises.

See those big mountains behind us? Those are not really mountains of rock. Those are actually mountains of sand, slowly being eroded by time. During the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, the volcano spewed tremendous amounts of ash and sand especially in the areas in its proximity. Thus, one can safely assume that what we were travelling on, all these lahar, were not there prior to 1991. According to our guide, before the 1991 eruption, everywhere were trees and thick vegetation, home to the local Aetas. And everything changed when Mt. Pinatubo erupted. Watch my “documentary” below:

We finally alighted from our 4×4 truck after an hour or so. From Capas, Tarlac, we crossed into the mountainous territories of Zambales where Mt. Pinatubo was located which located. If you’re asking if there is another way to Mt. Pinatubo other than this route, the answer is yes. Mountaineers take the Delta 5 route via Sapang Uwak. I have yet to try that soon!

Anyway, alighting from our 4×4 truck meant that trekking will commence. Fortunately, the weather was on our side. The weather was burning hot during my first trek here, but today, the cool drizzle made the long trek barely noticeable!

The first part of the trek was on the lahar-laden plains of Zambales. Hopping over rocks, boulders, small streams, and occasional mud, this part would last about an hour or two, depending on the pace of your group. We had a quick rest stop at the foot of the volcano where the marker above could be seen. After this, the second part now consisted of a gentle, gradual ascent in the mossy forest part of Mt. Pinatubo. After this half-hour trek, the world-famous water filled caldera of Mt. Pinatubo greeted us.

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The Mt. Pinatubo crater lake (image grabbed from Jamaima Anne Pamintuan’s Facebook Page)
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A closer look at the crater lake
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Lunch consisting of steamed rice, chicken/pork adobo, red salted egg, and bottled water was part of the package

We stayed at the crater lake for about half an hour to rest, to have our lunch, and to enjoy the view. Since the trail is of an out-and-back type, the trek going back is just the reverse of the trek going to the peak. This time, it took our group just about an hour to trek going back to where the 4×4 trucks were parked. The ride going back to the jump-off point took roughly the same amount of time.

trail elevation profile
Trail elevation profile of the Mt. Pinatubo trek (GPS recording using Strava)

Since our group was one of the first ones who reached the jump-off, we had the luxury of time to take a shower without anyone hurrying us up. I enjoyed my shower, wanting to get rid of all the sweat and dirt I have collected since the day has started!

To sum it all up, I’ve made a short video of the Mt. Pinatubo adventure for today:

In my personal opinion, these are some of my good and bad points for the DARE Travel Mt. Pinatubo package:

Pros:

  • No need to prepare food as light breakfast (consisting of bread and juice) part of the package and lunch (consisting of steamed rice, chicken/pork adobo, red salted egg, and bottled water) and trail food are all part of the package, not unless you’re the type who really needs to munch on more
  • Post-trek cold drinks (Yes!! Cold drinks!) and chichiria are included! After trekking for several hours, we were happily surprised that cold softdrinks were waiting for us in our vans!
  • The vas were comfortable and you are not crammed up as number of passengers per van are limited, unlike the other travel groups wifee and I have experienced before.
  • The DARE organizers were even kind enough to drop off on participant at Angeles City going home, which means they needed to get off NLEX, and get on to NLEX again, which could, technically, be quite a hassle for others.
  • Maalaga ang mga organizers. They keep on asking and reminding the participants to inform them if ever they need anything (i.e. first aid kit, or any other concern which they might have).

 

Cons:

  • The package (worth Php 2500) would not fall under your budget-friendly tours for Mt. Pinatubo. I’ve seen other groups offering the same tour for Php 1999. However, all the add-ons (food, not crammed-up vans) would be worth it if you have the extra budget to shell out. I mean, you don’t have to spend time anymore to prepare your food!

 

Would I recommend DARE Travel to others? Definitely! 🙂 For more information, you could visit their Facebook Page. 🙂

 


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