Mt. Pinatubo Travel 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.

Pinatubo
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.

Pinatubo
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, 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:

BOOK YOUR BUS FROM MANILA TO TARLAC

Pinatubo
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

Pinatubo
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
Pinatubo
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

Tips

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.

Pinatubo
Joyride!

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

Comments

  1. Xhy

    Hey, is there anyone planning a trip on March1? I’ll be in Pangasinan that time and its nice to go on side trip before heading to Manila. I’m with a friend. 09985795287. Thanks

  2. Kate

    Hi, who wants to join on Feb. 21 (Sunday)? We still need 1 or 2 ppl in our group. You can text me at 0999 845 9141 or 0915 208 9846 or email kate5432@yahoo.com.

    1. Grass

      Hi! How much per person if I go with your group?
      My number 09288738652

    2. Kate

      Update Feb. 2016 – the 4×4 ride now costs Php 3,000 (max. 5 ppl) and P500 for a guide (for 5 ppl). The entrance+environmental fees cost P450/person. If you join tour groups, they cost ~P2,100 from Manila and if it’s a DIY trip, it costs more or less the same, depending on how many ppl share the 4×4 ride. You can take a risk and just turn up at Sta. Juliana and team up with independent travellers. If you’ll commute, there are tricycles at McDonald’s Capas junction and they charge P300 to bring you to Brgy. Sta. Juliana. Swimming and boating aren’t allowed anymore in the lake, but it’s still a very worthwhile trip. Thanks Angel for this blog! More power to you! 🙂

  3. fatima

    hi. anyone planning for april 4 trip?

  4. mark

    anyone planning for January 31 trip?

  5. Fate

    I’m planning to go with my partner on feb. 12, 2016. Anyone who would like to join?? message me 09364429460

    1. Jo Anne Lucero

      We are planning to on Feb. 6, 2016

      1. Garbieness

        I’m planning to go with my partner on the same date, Feb. 6th, day trip only.. How many are you? Maybe we could team up to save on expenses.

        1. Orlyn

          Hello. Are u guys still going on Feb. 6? My partner and I plan to go but lookin forhave travelers to share the 4×4 rent. Please message me. 09399437919

    2. Leane

      My husband and I are planning to go on feb 12! Can you send me an email? leane.adam@hotmail.com

  6. Pussy

    Is the 1,500 package per person? My friends and I are planning on going on Feb 6

  7. Kate

    Hi, we are 2 backpackers planning to take a Pinatubo tour on Sat, Feb. 13, 2016. Anyone who wants to join so that we can share the 4×4? Text me at 09998459141.

    1. Fate

      Hi Kate, how about Feb 12? I can’t on Feb 13, 2016. I’m with my partner

      1. Kate

        Hi Fate, I can’t do it on Feb. 12. The Feb. 13 schedule has been cancelled, since my friend backed out. I’m trying to find someone to do it on a different date, either Feb. 21 or in March. Will you push through with the trip this Feb. 12? I can’t make it during Saturdays, only my Sundays are available.

    2. Narcisa

      Hello Kate! Me and my wife want to join you on Feb. 13. We are from Cavite, so where is the meet up and provide me the other details? Pls reply so we can decide.

  8. Jay

    We are planning to go there on 20 December group of 5-6 person, just wondering if we can bring our own car to the said base camp in Sta Juliana Capas Tarlac, ? Madali lang ba n mgrent ng 4×4 pg dating doon? Thanks in advance.

  9. toti bayudan

    What is Skyway?

  10. Rochelle

    Hi. I am planning to go here with ny boyfriend tomorrow, December 3. Anybody who wants to join? Para share sa 4×4. Thanks

  11. Arn

    Anyone plans to travel and make adventure with Mt. Pinatubo? Planning this November 27, 2015, txt me if your interested so that we can groupy together.

    #09054592972

  12. Annette gecomo

    Hi. We’re planning to go on nov 18. Anyone want to join to form a group? Txt me 0998 993 6561

    Anet

    1. Charm

      HI Annette, good day! We’re also planning to go there on NOv 18-19. Ilan po kayo sa group?

    2. Charm

      HI Ms. Annette, good day! We’re also planning to go there on NOv 18-19. Ilan po kayo sa group?

  13. Annette gecomo

    Hi. We’re planning to go on nov 18. Anyone want to join to form a group?

  14. akosidende

    hello! ask ko lang if pwede hindi mag-rent ng 4×4? allowed ba dun if we opted to trek/run the whole length up to the crater? TIA sa makakasagot! 🙂

  15. beeanca

    me and my friends are planing to go there this coming december 27 any tips and advice? is it ok to actually buy vouchers from metrodeal?

  16. Roxanne

    Hello! Anyone there planning to go this weekend? Let’s make a group. PM me 🙂 @Pie_3R (twitter)

  17. Mara

    hi! Me and my boyfriend is planning to go there on Sept. 17. Anyone wants to join? Pls message me!! 🙂 maraguevarra@yahoo.com thanks 🙂

  18. Rona

    I want to join this up monday september 7..lets make our own group strangers out there!

  19. Brenda

    good evn, ask ko lang kung me daytour or overnight sa Mt.Pinatubo or any places po this coming 17-19 of july
    thanks brenda

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