Things to know about trekking Pinatubo, the Philippines

Pinatubo is a volcano located 100 km northwest of Manila city, Luzon Island, Philippines. Prior to its eruption, it was a little known volcano with a forested summit, dormant for 400 years. The Pinatubo eruption on 15 June 1991 was the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. It lasted for nine hours and caused numerous large earthquakes due to the summit collapse and the creation of a caldera 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) in diameter. The caldera reduced the peak from 1745 meters (5725 feet) to 1485 meters (4872 feet). The famous attraction here is the crater of the volcano, forming a lake, and is surrounded by the caldera rim. The color of the water is changing depending on the season. Pinatubo is both within reach and well worth travelling for. It’s a relatively easy hike. The tour from Santa Juliana village consists of two parts: about one hour 4WD drive and 5.5 kilometer hike with 300 meter elevation.

24 hiking to pinatubo volcano philippines 1150297

What should you know to plan your trip?

  • The best time to go trekking in Pinatubo is during the dry season from the end of October to May.
  • During the wet season, sudden rain may possibly get your visit cancelled by tourism authorities or advice from Air Force due to dangerously strong river flow. Safety first!
  • People over 40 have to undergo a medical check-up. An asthmatic person won’t be allowed to visit because of dust. People over 60 must bring along an authorized medical check-up certificate.
  • The cut-off point for 4x4s to leave Santa Juliana is 10 am. If you arrive later than that, you won’t visit the lake until the following day.
  • The trek follows the river bed and in many cases, you will have to walk the water or cross streams.
  • Besides the cost of the tour, you will have to pay 700 pesos as an environmental fee to go up to the summit.
  • What to bring along?

  • Pack light. The regular Pinatubo trek will take around 2 hours. Do yourself a favor and keep your bag light. Your back will thank you for it.
  • Slather on that sunscreen and use a cap or a hat.
  • Bring at least 1.5 liters of water for the trek. There is not a single water source, so you will need it. Inside the crater, merchants sell water at 100 pesos per bottle; a snack costs 70 pesos.
  • Make sure you have something to eat while you hike the tricky terrain of Mt. Pinatubo.
  • There are several short stream crossings too, so be reasonable about the shoes you will wear for your Pinatubo trek. Closed shoes will protect your feet but will be wet after the trek. Trekking sandals are the best alternative. Crocs-type shoes are also a good choice.
  • How to get there from Manila?

  • If you start your tour from Santa Juliana, you have to leave Manila the previous afternoon and stay in Santa Juliana or Capas overnight. Take a taxi to the Victory Liner EDSA bus terminal or 5 Star Bus Line terminal l in Pasay City. Then take a bus bound for Tarlac, Baguio or Dagupan, getting off in Capas. Traffic jams are very common in Manila, which might make the journey slower. Once you are out of Manila, it will take you around 2 hours to get to Capas.
  • Once at the Capas junction (McDonald's), the simplest option is to take one of the many tricycles available for the 24km ride directly to Barangay, Santa Juliana. Be sure to agree on the price with your tricycle driver beforehand (a P300 return should be possible, depending on your bargaining skills).
  • Santa Juliana, the starting point of the 4x4 ride to the lake, is a small village with few accommodation options. You may stay overnight in Capas and catch a tricycle in the morning from your hotel (by prior arrangement) or from outside Mcdonalds'.
  • In any case, it’s important to check the available tour options before arrival to avoid disappointment. My tour was organized by Allan Bognot Pinatubo Guesthouse in Santa Juliana.
  • Trek

    We left at around 7 am on a 4×4 jeep, with a guide.

    11 hiking to pinatubo volcano philippines 1150196It took us about an hour to get to the starting point of our hike. The drive was nice, taking us through moon like scenery with hills of ashes around, almost no vegetation, and little streams all over. It was very special and the off-road driving was fun. We got off in the middle of nowhere and started our hike up to the peak.12 hiking to pinatubo volcano philippines 1150204The trail was simply gradual, with multiple stream crossings, and the last portion was through steep cemented stairs. The walk was not at all challenging. We made it to the camp in less than 2 hours.13 hiking to pinatubo volcano philippines 115021015 hiking to pinatubo volcano philippines 115023116 hiking to pinatubo volcano philippines 115023818 hiking to pinatubo volcano philippines 115025419 hiking to pinatubo volcano philippines 115025920 hiking to pinatubo volcano philippines 115027321 hiking to pinatubo volcano philippines 115027922 hiking to pinatubo volcano philippines 1150286We then made it up to the top, which took another 20 minutes. Arguably, the Pinatubo Crater Lake is the highlight of your Pinatubo trek. The caldera was formed by the eruption of the mountain which displaced its pre-eruption summit about 1km northwards. The lake is about 2.5 kilometers wide, 600-800 meters deep, and has a surface area of about 1.8 square kilometers. With water that changes color, it's easy to see why a lot of people are charmed by its beauty. The lake has had its share of admirers both from local regions and abroad.23 hiking to pinatubo volcano philippines 115029325 pinatubo thesanetravel.comP1150303A comfort room facility with water is available near the crater. Swimming is prohibited due to some casualty reports. Besides, the water is highly acidic and contains chemicals toxic to humans, such as arsenic. On our way back we could admire beautiful scenery and also carabaos, water buffalos national animals of the Philippines.26 hiking to pinatubo volcano philippines 115031527 hiking to pinatubo volcano philippines 115031730 pinatubo thesanetravel.comP115033531 hiking to pinatubo volcano philippines 115044232 pinatubo thesanetravel.comP1150453Like it? Pin it!Did you know that eruption of the Pinatubo was the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century? Located 100 kilometres from Manila in the Philippines it is a 2-day or weekend trip! Check these 5 things before you go! #visitPhilippines #Pinatubo #travelphotography #trekking #trekkingtravel #Asiatravel #naturetravel
What did you think? Have you been to Pinatubo? Or perhaps you’re thinking of visiting there in the near future? Either way, I’d love to hear from you so please add your comments below.

  • Published by Anita on November 8, 2016

    Author: Anita Sane

    Anita 03 18

    About the author
    Anita is a part-time traveller, passionate photographer and a retired career woman from Latvia, 
    travelling mostly solo for more than 15 years. She is a skilled travel planner who plans and executes her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her on FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitter and Bloglovin.



    It looks like you have to be very dedicated just to get to the start of this trek! But the view is amazing, and I love that the water changes colors!
    I think it would be cool to hike a volcano and pinatubo looks gorgeous. It might too much for my kids though.
    That looks like so much fun! Your pictures are beautiful. Now I need to add this hike to my list.
    This seems like an easy hike, with amazing rewards! I am hoping to go to the Philippines early next year, now can add this to the list :)
    Holy moly, your pics of Pinatubo look amazing, that lake is gorgeous. May sound like a silly question but Can you swim in it or is there issues from the volcano?I love the sign saying how long it would take you to get there by age level!
    Amazing pics!! I would definitely put this in my list of things to do when I go there. Such an amazing experience :)
    I just spent most of October in the Philippines and did not get to this!! It was on my list but with the 2 typhoons that came through it put a hinge in my plans. I love seeing your photos though - a reason to go back!
    Ok everyone else said this already but I'm going to say it again - amazing photos!! I've never head of this volcano so it was interesting to learn more about it. Great tips!
    Oh my! These photos are stunning and this post is so informational! Trekking is my favorite thing to do; I'll definitely have to check this out! I'm used to trekking in cold weather, however, so I'll have to get used to the heat and humidity!
    Wow, I definately put this on my list of things to do once in the Philippines. I love hiking and this seems like the perfect trip for me and my boyfriend.
    Wow, gorgeous shots and info! I especially love the tip about water - there's NOTHING worse than not bringing enough and being dehydrated. Thanks for sharing
    These photos are absolutely stunning and I'm surprised I've never heard of Pinatubo. I'd love to go hiking here and it is nice to see that it is relatively close to Manila, since I'll likely be flying into MNL when I visit the Philippines. Great practical tips for visiting the area! As for my favorite mountain trek, the Kawah Ijen volcano in Indonesia is certainly not to be missed!
    Pinatubo looks incredible, your photos are fantastic - great job! Your tips are great, I know to avoid the wet season :) How easy is the journey from Manila as it seems complicated? P.S. I love the bright pink jeep!
    OMG this place looks absolutely stunning. So lush and green! Your pictures are so beautiful too. I would love to go hiking there. Although it sounds like a relatively easy hike, the scenery is spectacular.
    Is that first photo real!?!?!? It's absolutely stunning. I am a novice hiker, so this is my kind of hike!

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