Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Conquering Mount Pinatubo

Can a natural tragedy turn into something beautiful? Definitely, yes. What was once the site of a deadly volcanic activity is now a scenic spot for adventurers.

With Travel Factor’s PhP 2,450 per head package, our plan to trek Mount Pinatubo finally pushed through!

Last December 28, 2013, we departed McDonald’s El Pueblo at exactly 3AM.  The white van that shuttled us was full, with 12 excited participants, the driver and our TF travel coordinator, Maan.

Thanks to our ‘kaskaserong” driver, we arrived at the Department of Tourism (DOT) office in Capas, Tarlac after only 2 hours. We have to wait because they open at 6AM. I noticed that there is no mobile phone signal in the area.  We also used this time to urinate. There are available comfort rooms in the different houses nearby. You have to pay PhP 10 though.

When the office finally opened, we filled up a waiver form and paid PhP 150 I.P.I.S fee (They say this is to help the indigenous people in the area).

We then rode the open 4x4 Jeep assigned to us. It was about a 1 and a half hour ride, passing by streams of water, various rock formations, and dust!  I felt transported in another place, just like in a set of an adventure movie. I enjoyed the bumpy and challenging 14-kilometer ride. It was really hard taking photos while riding the 4x4 Jeep!

It was about 7.45 AM when we arrived at the start of the 7-kilometer trek. Kuya Albert, our local tour guide, ably led us through the rough terrain. It is advisable to wear a jacket or an arm or leg cover as the wind is cold and also, to protect you from the sun. Also, wear proper trekking shoes as you will pass by streams and rocks.  I had to wear socks as my feet were having blisters from the long trek.

After 2 hours, we arrived at a “rest stop” where there are urinals and people selling food and drinks. A word of warning though-- a small bottle of softdrinks costs PhP 100! Noticeable is a signage that stating how many minutes to the crater--15 minutes for young ones, 18 minutes for middle age and 20 minutes for senior citizens. We thought it was an easy challenge, but then it was a really difficult trail because of the bushes and slippery stones. It took us a good 45 minutes to get to the crater. What a misleading signage!

But all the exhaustion was well worth it as we caught sight of the lake—which was colored blue-green. It was such a sight, with lush green slopes & clouds as backdrop.

We then settled on the sand and had our packed lunch and rested our very tired feet (finally!) I would suggest just bringing sandwiches as it is quite difficult to eat rice and viand.

After resting and taking photo-ops, we then proceeded to the trail going back. I was catching my breath and my knees almost gave up on the 198-steps stone stairway (it doesn't have a handrail also)!

Going back was faster as we took it for just 1 hour and 45 minutes (tho it seemed like forever, maybe because of tiredness). We finally arrived at the place where our 4x4 Jeep was waiting to take us back to the DOT office in Capas.  

Although exhausted, the trip has left me and my friends with an exhilarating feeling that yes, we conquered Mount Pinatubo!

1 comment:

  1. PhP 150 I.P.I.S fee = hidden charge


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