Mt. Pinatubo Hike Guide: A Journey to a Beautiful Disaster

Mt. Pinatubo

Mount Pinatubo, a dormant volcano north of Manila, discharged millions of tons of sulfur dioxide in the air on June 1991, when it was awaken after more than 600 years of dormancy, on what is considered as the largest and most catastrophic volcanic eruption in the recent years.

Ashes covered the entire Luzon landmass and even reached Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and other neighboring Asian countries.

Close to a thousand perished, more than a hundred thousand lost their homes, and billion worth of crops were damaged. The eruption also brought down the world temperature by a few centigrade.

Beautiful turquoise-colored crater lake of Mount Pinatubo.

Today, it holds a beauty that covers it tragic past. The blue-green lake on a gray-brown  crater is a sight to behold. The irony is that, it is now attracting more and more people after its sudden eruption that fend off people from the area more than a decade ago.

Experience Mt. Pinatubo. A day trek to the crater will reveal the beauty that it drew. You will even forget its disastrous history.

The 4×4 ride to trailhead.

How to Get to Mount Pinatubo

Trekking to the crater lake of Mount Pinatubo can be done in a day. It involves a 4×4 ride on a lahar field surrounded with panoramic sand walls, and at least three hours of trekking back and forth.

Packaged tour from Manila to Pinatubo Crater Lake via Capas usually costs around P2,000 to P3,000 and P2,500 via Botolan in Zambales, food not included. A DIY tour via Capas will cost you at least P2,500 and cheaper via Botolan. If you opt to DIY via Capas, here’s how:

  1. Bus from Manila, Cubao or Pasay to Capas, Tarlac (Mc Donalds Capas Junction)
  2. Trike to Sta. Juliana Tourism (cheaper alternative is to take a jeep at P30 per pax or trike for at least P150 per trike to Patling and transfer to a trike at P60 per trike to Sta. Juliana Tourism)
  3. Register at Sta. Juliana Tourism who well then arrange the 4×4 ride, be five in a group to maximize the sharing cost for the 4×4 ride.
  4. The ride will take about an hour which will be followed by at least two hours of trekking

If you are alone and on a DIY tour, you may join a group at Sta. Juliana Tourism to share the 4×4 ride and guide cost. Remember that 10AM is the cutoff at Sta. Juliana Tourism, no one is allowed to go to the crater lake beyond that time.

The newly opened Botolan route is a bit cheaper because they use bigger truck to transport trekkers to the trailhead instead 4×4 jeep.

Going to Capas, Tarlac from Manila, you can book your bus ticket here:


Sand walls along the trail.

Where to Stay in the Area

Trekking to Mt. Pinatubo’s crater can be done in a day, so if you are on a budget, you can save expenses for accommodation if you choose to head back home after the trek. Alternatively, you can set up a camp in the assigned camping site in the area. There are restrooms, nipa hut and source of fresh water near the crater.

But if you plan on staying in the area, before or after the trek,  you can stay at the following hotels/inns nearby:

Alvin and Angie Bognot Mount Pinatubo Guesthouse (Bognot Lodge)
Santa Juliana, Capas, Tarlac
Contact No: +639198614102

Casa Hermogina
Santa Juliana, Capas, Tarlac
Contact No: +639199349474

The Farmhouse by EDL
Barangay Dolores, Capas, Tarlac
Contact No: +639177096908

The iconic crater lake.

Activities in the Area

  • Try the volcanic ash massage and mud pack at Pinatubo Spa Town
  • Drop by at Capas Shrine and have a glimpse of Philippine History. It is a memorial shrine for those Filipino and American soldiers who died during the Bataan Death March during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines of World War II. See the 70-meter obelisk towers above the grounds of the former interment camp and imagine yourself  seeing The Needle of Washington DC
  • Witness the man-shaped rock formation in Sta Juliana, popularly called as Telatau – a massive totem-shaped rock
  • Go to Museo de Tarlac in Capas
  • Take a walk at Campo Santo Municipio of O’Donnell Capas with its still Spanish colonial period identity still preserved
  • Attend a mass at O’Donnell Catholic Church and see its Spanish façade decorated with lining of centuries old acacia trees
  • Feel the heat of Dolores and Bueno Hot Springs
  • See the still existing Japanese Tunnels and Caves
  • Visit the different ancestral houses scattered in the province
  • Go to Bamban Hills, Sacobia River, Crow Valley, Kalaw Forest/Falls, Lake Canarem, Anao Quina Buntok Creek and Kamikaze Memorial Shrine
A Beautiful Disaster!

Mount Pinatubo Itinerary

Mount Pinatubo Day Trek via Capas
Budget: Approximately P2,500

0200H: Depart Manila
0430H: Arrive in Capas (Mc Donald’s Junction), breakfast
0530H: Proceed to Santa Juliana Tourism
0600H: Register
0630H: 4×4 to trailhead
0730H: Arrive in trailhead, start trek
1000H: Arrive in crater lake
1130H: Start trek back
1330H: Back in jumpoff
1430H: Back in Santa Juliana


There are a lot of travel groups based in Manila that organize a Mt. Pinatubo Trek, Travel Factor and TriPinas are among those. The good thing about these organized trek is that you don’t need to worry about most of the stuff, since they take care of almost everything, designed actually for busy people. The package rate ranges from P2,000 – P3,000 from Manila, in exchange you get to trek Mt. Pinatubo less the hassle of organizing it and you gain travel friends from fellow joiners.

Mt. Pinatubo Town Spa on the other hand offers a local rate of P1500 from Sta. Juliana for the package, it includes 4×4 rental via Skyway, toll fee, conservation fee, a local guide and a meal. Contact No: +63928 3410402/(63-45) 493-0031.

Meanwhile, Capas Pinatubo Four-Wheelers Club has P6,250 Pinatubo package from Sta. Juliana that is good for five person and inclusive of 4×4 rental via Skyway, toll fee, conservation fee, a local guide and a packed lunch. You may contact the President of Capas Pinatubo Four-Wheelers Club, Wendell Mercado at 0919-6084313.


But if you are keen on organizing your own Mt. Pinatubo tour,  a Do-It-Yourself is of course cheaper. Aside from the expenses for foods and transportation cost to and from the jump off point, other expenses are:

  • Conservation/Environmental fee – P300 per person
  • Guide fee – P500 (for one to five trekkers)
  • 4×4 rental – P2500 via Skyway (good for five)
  • Skyway toll fee – P500

Optional Expenses:

  • Shower fee – P20 at Baranggay Hall/P100 at Mt. Pinatubo Town Spa
  • Tent rental – P100
  • If you bring your own 4×4, a P500 fee is required

*Originally Published: 16-Jul-2015 | Updates:  30-Sep-2017; 13-Jan-2018; 30-Apr-2020


  1. ela

    Hi my family and I am planning to go on Pinatubo trek begging of holy week as kids will be off from school. Will there be scheduled trek on that week? Thanks

    1. Lakwatsero

      Yes! There will be.

  2. […] No visit to Pampanga is complete without a visit to this stratovolcano caldera, Mount Pinatubo. Ride a 4×4 and trek to the crater that sits in Botolan, Zambales. The volcano is in the boundaries of the provinces Pampanga and Tarlac. Plan your trip ahead as it requires good physical health for a whole day journey. If all sound appealing to you, check out a complete guide to Mount Pinatubo, right here. […]

  3. Rhen Romero

    Hi There! Anybody has plan to go this SEPT?

  4. […] More info: Mt. Pinatubo Travel Guide […]

  5. wyneth fish

    hi what type of footwear is required?

  6. Benk

    will go there on 31st May Tuesday .. Group of 5 .. pick up place at Makati ..

  7. May 21, 2016, we’re a group of 3 and we need 2 more people. Anyone? Contact me via email pls [email protected]

  8. Hana Nguyen

    Hello! Is there anyone planning to go Mt.Pinatubo 27th or 28th April. Pls contact me via email ([email protected]) so we can form a group and share sa 4×4. Thanks!

    1. Maire

      ouch! planning to go there 30th of april.

  9. Daniel

    Me and one other friend are planning to trek Pinatubo on 3rd or 10th of Mar 2016. We will begin from Baguio City where we are staying and starting to trek from there soon on Sunday.

    If anyone has the same plan please feel free to contact us via my phone no.: 09478053473 (Daniel) or email: [email protected]

    I’m looking for your information and hope we could travel together and share the 4×4 car rental.

    Thanks and BR.

  10. Allan

    Good day to Ladies & Gentlement

    Me & my girlfriend is planning to go there on March 24 from BGC, Manila.
    If anyone going on that day too please contact me via phone – 09152131609 (Allan)
    or contact me via email – [email protected]
    Kindly contact us if anyone is going on that day so that we can travel together n share the 4×4 car rental. Thank you in advance

  11. Dzulkifli

    Anyone go on 14 mac….? We are two person arrive in manila by 13th mac and try to go there by 14? Anyone please contact me by an email [email protected] so we can share the rent for 4×4

  12. Maricel

    Hello there, anyone here planning to go on feb 27, saturday..

    1. Monaliza

      Anyone wants to go today??

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