If you have read my first post about Day-1 in Manila and wondering where’s the post of the Day-2, I am here to tell you that there is no post about Day-2, since the day trip to Pagsanjan Falls was cancelled. Day two was supposed to be spent in Pagsanjan Falls, unluckily our Tour agent from Klook missed our booking and didn’t pick us up and our money was full refunded. We did spend the whole day exploring SM Mall of Asia, one of the biggest mall in Manila, checking every corner, watched movies and tried some of the restaurants in the mall (no shopping though).
Having said that, this post is focusing on how I spend the Day-3 in Manila, which is taking a day trip to Mount Pinatubo with TRIPinas Travel and Tour Ventures. If you wonder what is my complete itinerary for 5 days in Manila, you can check my post on Day-1 here.
Why Mount Pinatubo?
With the 5 days I had to explore Manila, I could not go to the Ifugao for its rice terrace, or to Cebu, or Palawan. The feasible option is to explore attractions nearby Manila that can be tackled in an one-day tour. So, I immediately started to look around places such Pagsanjan Falls, Mount Pinatubo, and Taal Volcano just to name a few.
Mount Pinatubo is situated in Botolan, Zambales, about 2 hours drive from metro manila. It’s an active stratovolcano which its last eruption in 1991 caused major interruptions worldwide and ejected roughly 10 km cubic tons of magma. It is part of a chain of volcanoes which lie along the western side of the island of Luzon called the Zambales Mountains. Mount Pinatubo’s summit before the 1991 eruption was 1,745 m (5,725 ft) above sea level, and after the eruption it’s now 1,486 m (4,875 ft) (source: Wikipedia).
After this eruption, the caldera (cauldron-like hollow that forms after the emptying of a magma in a volcanic eruption) soon filled with water from annual monsoon rain and a crater lake, Lake Pinatubo was formed. This lake is so beautiful and one of the must-see when in Philippine. And this is the main reason why i badly wanted to go there.
Pick-up (from Manila Metro to Botolan – 2 hours drive)
The tour started with the pick-up as early as 3 am in the morning! We were picked up with a private car with four seater, and stopped by San Juan City first, where the Tour Agent’s Office was to settle our bill. After that, we drove for about two hours and reach the “base Camp”.
The ride to the beginning of the trek (1 hour 4×4 drive)
When we arrived at the base camp, so many people were already there from different travel agents, and 4X4 vehicles had already flooded the street. After taking a break and did a registration to enter the Mount Pinatubo National park, we were taken by our 4×4 ride for some off-road adventures towards the starting point of the trekking path. There were two drivers and the trekking guide accompany us.
For few minutes we were still met by the asphalted road, but then things started getting rough. We entered a plain area with no roads, straight bumpy and dusty all the way. The ride also passed some rocky plains and creeks, spikey hills, and met by another rocky plantains until we reached the beginning of the trek. It took about good an hour 4×4 ride. There’s not much to see during this ride, other than some rocky low-hills and plantains.
The Trek (1,5 hours to the Lake Pinatubo)
We started our hike with the guide. The area was not well marked, whether from the 4×4 driving path or the hiking trails. So, having a guide is a must. The trek was relatively easy, passing rivers and narrow path, as well as pebbly path. The distance from the starting point to the lake is about 5,5 km and the elevation gain is 470 meters. Nearing the crater there’s some ascends, and when arriving to the area you will be met with the most beautiful turquoise color of Lake Pinatubo. There was resting area and some kiosk selling snacks and drinks, and we took some rest while enjoying the view.
Right after we arrived at the lake, it started drizzling and it turned into some downpour for about an hour or so. After we waited for a while, we finally went back and passed the same route we took earlier. Although the weather wasn’t that good that day, I was so happy to finally got out from the packed Manila city and got my dose of nature.
All in all, it took about 10 hours day trip from the beginning to end. Not a bad day to spend a day!
Although the hike to the crater lake was relatively easy, I found some of these things would make my trek much better had I known it in advance:
- Shoes/Flip-Flop : I wore shoes, but since the trek passed rivers and creeks, I finally gave up my shoes and wore my flip flop and occasionally took it off and walked with my barefoot instead. My shoes isn’t waterproof though. So, otherwise your shoe is waterproof, may as well wearing flip flop for the trek.
- Face mask. When we headed to the beginning of the trek, it was still 6 am in the morning and the ground was still wet. Mask was not necessary when riding 4X4. But on our way back, it was already afternoon and it was very dusty. Luckily, a friend of mine brought two masks.
- Lunch. Pack your own lunch.
- Ask the tour if the tour guide provide commentary. The tour guide is basically a trekking guide, a local with limited English. So, we didn’t get any information or historical explanation whatsoever about the mountain.
If you are bored with the city landscape in Manila, try day tours on neighbouring area. Philippines has many volcanoes and waterfalls and they are worth checking out.