My senses were overpowered with sheer wonder. Breathing became more of an option as my focus tuned into various other sensations that needed immediate attention. The rain tapped my shoulder and asked that I feel the cool shower from the heavens, the lake lured my eyes with its beautiful blue-green gaze and the wind seduced me with an aroma of tranquility. I was at the peak of Mount Pinatubo.
The once devastating and vengeful mountain has finally found its inner peace and is eager to indulge any who wish to see her new smile. I guess those anger management classes really do work.
There’s a lot you can learn from Miss Pinatubo if you’d stop and listen.
Mt. Pinatubo erupted in a very violent manner back in the 90’s. It spewed out an ash cloud that covered the entire country and brought on “ash snow” throughout Manila and the rest of the Philippines. The ash, also known as “Lahar,” had taken over our world for a moment, but now has created a breathtaking world of it’s own. You can find this exotic environment if you’re brave enough to take a trip back to the ashes of Mt. Pinatubo, and if you do, you’ll find a very beautiful surprise waiting for you at the top of her crater.
I’ve taken this journey twice now, and I’m a firm believer that the pictures you will see can tell the story a thousand times better than any words could. Of course, it’s even better if you take this hike up to the Mt. Pinatubo crater lake yourself and experience it all first hand!
A day trip / leisure hike up Mt. Pinatubo to see and swim in it’s crater lake would usually start at around 3am, when you leave Manila.
We arrived at the “Spa Town” at around 6am, just in time to beat the crowds that arrive at 7am. You’ll find a line of 4×4 all terrain vehicles (ATV) that will take you on your first adventure.
Tourists are not allowed to walk / hike this first leg of the trip as the “ash terrains” are too dangerous to tour. 90 minute ride on a 4×4 ATV is a requirement for safety.
Do bring a bandana or scarf to cover your nose and protect it from the ashes blown everywhere during the ride. Also bring some sun glasses to protect your eyes.
Your driver will usually stop at prime spots along the Pinatubo lahar path for you and your friends to take pictures. An ATV can usually fit about 5 people comfortably. Along with your driver, you’ll also have a tour guide to assist you in reaching the crater lake.
After the all terrain ride through the lahar / ash terrains of this new Pinatubo lands, you’ll arrive at the base of the Mt Pinatubo. From here, it’s about a 45 minute hike to the top. Of course, for the photo loving community, this may take a longer… much longer…
The Mt Pinatubo trek starts off with a steep climb down. Be careful as many of the rocks are unstable and not firmly set on the earth.
You’ll see the amazing formations and landscapes that have been carved by the ash floods / lahar from the Mt Pinatubo eruption from the 90s.
You’ll also be passing by a few creeks and streams. You’ll see some of them with a bronze color due to the high sulfur content. Though they are passable without getting wet, it is still recommended that you instead have footwear that can get soaked. Comfortable flip flops with straps work best here.
One last steep uphill hike and you’ll find that the already beautiful journey you’ve taken, gets rewarded with a view that few can compare to.
Yes, I know. It’s breathtaking!
Do plan your trip out to match the season when the crater lake water is at it’s brightest. Depending on the season, it goes from a majestic blue green to a darker pale color. I recommend the blue green season.
After soaking up the view, you take a climb back down to touch the healing waters of the crater lake. They say the healing properties of the volcano with the high minerals is very good for the skin. So take a dip!
You can also take another small boat ride, about 5 minutes, to to the other side of the lake where you can dip in the hot springs. The soils and earth in this other end is very hot and you need to be careful where you step.
Anyway, from there, it’s a calm and relaxing trip back through the same path. Just another chance for you to snap away on some pictures you may have missed from your excitement towards reaching the top.
Years after its 1991 eruption, Mt. Pinatubo is now transformed into a must-see destination particularly for hikers. Surrounded by a vast expanse of lahar-filled valleys, boulders the size of cars, and inhabited by a number of local Aeta tribes people, Mt. Pinatubo offers a breathtaking view of a hidden lake inside its crater – definitely an enchanting reward that intrepid explorers and trekkers need to experience, When In Manila.
When In Manila, and looking to conquer / climb a volcano and swim within it’s crater lake, then I highly recommend you come visit Mt. Pinatubo. I also suggest getting a travel / adventure package where they can set everything up from your transportation from Manila, to the 4×4 lahar dirt rides, to the hiking guide and more. I’ve had great experiences with e-Philippines Adventure Travel and Destinations (https://www.e-philippines.com.ph/), who were my travel advisors for both my trips to Pinatubo.
e-Philippines adventure travel and destinations
Mt. Pinatubo Crater Lake Day Trip Hike