This week I recount my adventure trek in the lovely Philippines as I venture to take a dip in an active volcano
The lovely blue waters mesmerizingly invites me to take a dip in the waters. It is a pity I don’t know how to swim, and can only wade in a bit. I’m on the shores of the lake atop Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines, wading into what is apparently an active volcano.
Mt. Pinatubo is one of the many active volcanoes in the Philippines that last erupted in an enormous eruption on June 15th 1991. The resulting eruption was the second largest eruption of the 20th Century!! The eruption resulted in the formation of an enormous crater that soon filled with rainwater forming a large crater lake. The lake with it’s brilliant blue waters has become one of the tourist attractions of the region.
Trek, Volcano and Lake – three words that have me sold on the trip being advertised. I sign up for an adventure trek with a local travel outfit called Tripinas that promises a quick day excursion to Mt.Pinatubo. The trip starts a little after midnight, since the trek needs an early start and we have many miles to go.
At early dawn we reach the start point of the trek, or so I think until we are bundled into 4X4 wheel drive jeeps to take us through the lahar canyons formed by the eruption. Getting to these jeeps on time was the reason we departed at such an unearthly hour, as once they head to the trek start point they don’t end up returning for most of the day.
The ride starts quite smoothly at first. But in no time, the smooth ride turns into a back-breaking, stomach churning ride, racing through streams and valleys through some of the most desolate scenery I have seen to date. An hour later we finally arrive at the start point of the trek.
From here it is easy walking, the terrain is mostly flat. We cross a shallow stream or two, water barely going over the shoes, as we trudge along more barren lands. The trail moves upwards slowly. The desolate landscape gradually gives way to greenery.
Before long I’m trekking in a full fledged mini-jungle with thick bushes and trees all around the trail. The sudden change of scenery surprises me, but the signs along the way assure that the end is near. Up head, little flashes of blue just beyond the signpost show that the famed crater lake is just around the corner.
The sky is a bit overcast, so the lake is not the wonderful blue color it normally is. But nevertheless, it is spectacular. As I wade into the water, the warmth of the underlying volcano makes itself evident as the waters close around my feet.
I take a small boat to cross the lake and head to the other shore. There, I find many small springs bubbling with hot water. The steaming hot water looks hot enough to poach and egg in it. Exploring the rather desolate shore at the far end does not take too long and soon it’s time to head back.
I begin the journey back and after a longish walk back I am back at the jeeps. I thread my way through the treacherous terrain, holding on for dear life in the back of the 4X4 jeep. Finally we are back at the buses and the wonderful adventure trek is over. As I rest in the bus on the way back, I marvel at the beauty that even nature’s destruction brings out and add actually swimming in Mt.Pinatubo to the already long bucket list.
Mt.Pinatubo is about 100 km from Manila city and can be done as a day trip. It’s probably best to do this with an organized tour as the logistics of getting to the mountain from the base village can get tricky. I did the trip with Tripinas Travel & Tours and would recommend them again for a trip to Pinatubo. I’d also highly recommend Trail Adventours with whom I have done main trips in the Philippines. Expect to shell out about 3000 – 4000 PHP per head, for a group of 5 people, as of writing this blog post.
When to Visit
Best time to hike is in the dry months from November to May. In other months the weather can be fickle and the trek is definitely not recommended during typhoon or storm season as some areas may be prone to landslides.Expect to trek for 2-2.5 hours to reach the crater lake and about 1.5 hours for the to and fro 4×4 ride.