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Mt. Pinatubo: The Splendor of its Aftermath

Born a year after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, I felt I have missed an event of a century frequently described in terms of falling ashes and dropping of temperatures. As if the tropical country has finally experienced winter.

Apologies if you are more concerned about the adverse outcomes such as deaths and ozone depletion. But as a kid, that was all I lamented on!

Finally, just after the 24th anniversary of its eruption, I have come to behold the aftermath of Mt. Pinatubo’s deadly volcanic eruption worsened by a passing typhoon. And boy, was I stunned

Into the Ashen Deserts of Mt. Pinatubo

Mt. Pinatubo can easily qualify as one of my most favorite climbs. Although, it can hardly be called a climb. It’s more of a hike in a desert of sand, ashes and seemingly painted rocks. Just to get to the crater of the now-sleeping volcano is an adventure that entailed all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) or 4×4 jeep ride on a grassy, muddy and sandy landscape.

As if tumbling in a 4×4 during sunrise isn’t a thrill in itself, the road to Mt. Pinatubo is a sweeping landscape filled with halved rocks that turned into crusty (and Toblerone-looking) cliffs. The lack of vegetation contrasted with a distant ghost of densely forested ridges. Clear streams trickled straight from the mountain. Needless to say, it’s a scene taken right out of Mad Max in Fury Road.

Scorched by the Trail

Where the adventure road ends, 45 minutes after, the 3-hour trail begins. There is hardly an incline, but the difficulty of our trail lay in the scorching heat of the sun beating against our backs in the nearly shade-free, barren land.

Much of the damage of Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption is left to the imagination, especially the molten lava that coursed through, and the rain-induced torrents of volcanic debris that shaped its trail. This landscape is known to change with every rainfall due to erosion.

Watercolor in Grey Rocks

Even the hues of the streams differed per mineral — at times ferrous red, algal green, and on our visit, sulfuric yellow. We passed by groups of children who lived nearby creating castles made of colored stones. The area used to be a dwelling of the Aetas prior to the evacuation.

The eruption collapsed the summit of Mt. Pinatubo, creating a crater 2.5 kilometers in diameter at 1485 meters above sea level. Even the lake in the middle of the crater turns blue green to brown depending on temperature. Unfortunately, we are no longer allowed to swim across the lake due to the dangerous downward current at the center.

Beauty from Tragedy

Atop the cemented viewing deck, we witnessed the mountain famous not only for its eruption, but also considered to be one of the most beautiful crater lakes in the world. In fact, the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo also beautified Anawangin Cove, giving its white sand beauty from spewed volcanic ashes.

Mt. Pinatubo is highly recommended for those who want to see another side of the mountainous Philippines. Instead of the usual lush greenery, uphill slopes and bird’s eye view of town, we get widespread lahar, pointy calderas and the ever-changing shades of the crater lake.

With Rarejob Hiking Club. Tour with us at TravelCompassPH!

How to go to Mt. Pinatubo: Getting a package tour to Mt. Pinatubo is highly recommended, as the expenses for the roundtrip Manila-Pinatubo basecamp van ride, 4×4 ride, trek guide, registration fee, environmental fee and aeta fee are already included.

Estimated expenses: Around PHP2,100 per person for a group of 10 pax

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21 Comments

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Eleanor
    July 20, 2015 at 1:02 AM

    I am actually doing a dissertation about the impact of ash fall on the vegetation here using remote sensing – do you have any images of damaged vegetation or know of any area around the volcano in particular that was most badly damaged by the ash?
    I enjoyed reading this, thank you.

  • Reply
    Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen
    July 9, 2015 at 7:53 AM

    Really amazing photos you got here Sam! I want to go to Mt. Pinatubo because of it.

  • Reply
    Yvonne
    July 7, 2015 at 9:49 AM

    Wow! I love your photos and the travel! Its really nice I hope to travel there soon!!!

  • Reply
    Summer
    July 7, 2015 at 2:39 AM

    What a scenery! I wonder when the last time this volcano erupted. I hope I could go in this place too. I wonder how much it costs too..

  • Reply
    3xhcch
    July 5, 2015 at 4:53 PM

    I have experienced this hike myself with my wife and kids (who were still age 10 and less at that time!) We even had our aunt with us who was already a senior citizen by then. We all made it and enjoyed it. The view of crater lake at the top was an awesome reward. – Fred

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      July 14, 2015 at 3:06 PM

      Glad to know you’ve tried it before Fred 🙂 How brave of your aunt to trek! We also had one senior citizen in the bunch

  • Reply
    work@homeMillie
    July 5, 2015 at 7:40 AM

    Love the photos and the story behind them. Never thought you can climb there! Well, now I know hehehe. Beautiful landscape? not sure yet, so far the coffee beans in Benguet. hehehe 🙂

  • Reply
    nilyncartagena
    July 4, 2015 at 11:15 PM

    Oh, this is a good place, plus the photography is amazing! I wish we could visit here too. 😀

  • Reply
    Louise ღ (@louisechelle)
    July 4, 2015 at 12:15 PM

    Great shots! Though I know about Mt. Pinatubo, it was only recently that I learned its beauty – through the KathNiel’s movie. Hehe. The trekking would be worth if that kind of scenery awaits you. I plan to visit also and brings something to the community. 🙂

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      July 14, 2015 at 3:05 PM

      I wish I watched that movie, just so I can check out how it depicted Pinatubo 🙂

  • Reply
    Russ R.
    July 3, 2015 at 9:48 PM

    While I did think that how can something so beautiful be destructive – that’s me remembering the uneventful Mt. Pinatubo eruption. I was just a kid back then. But well, Mt. Pinatubo is beautiful. I’ve been there & I’d love to go back. The scenery and the crater lake – they’re all a lovely display of nature.

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      July 14, 2015 at 3:04 PM

      You’re lucky Russ coz you got there early. It took me 23 years. Haha.

  • Reply
    May De Jesus-Palacpac
    July 3, 2015 at 2:13 PM

    Your pictures are awesome, I love! I’ve never thought of Pinatubo as a place to climb or see, until i saw a clip of a local movie and it was sort of insinuated in the dialogue.

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      July 3, 2015 at 2:28 PM

      I think they got it all wrong. This is really one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen. 🙂

  • Reply
    Franc Ramon
    July 2, 2015 at 5:43 PM

    Well the Mt. Pinatubo Earthquake was one of the worst of times for the country as people were just recovering from the 1990 earthquake at that time. It’s good to see that it has turned out to be a beautiful sanctuary after all these years.

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      July 3, 2015 at 2:29 PM

      Agree. I thought lahar was terrible and a sad sight. Never liked the color gray until that trip. 🙂

      • Reply
        franckxethee
        July 5, 2015 at 10:58 PM

        We’re planning to visit Mt. Pinatubo soon.

  • Reply
    jewey
    July 1, 2015 at 7:19 PM

    nice pictures! =)

  • Reply
    Melissa U
    July 1, 2015 at 1:19 PM

    Ahhhh your pictures are so lovely. The place looks really beautiful. I’ve also been planning to go with my friends but we don’t know who to contact. Just wanna ask how much is the rate or are there any entrance fees? 🙂 Thank you in advance!

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      July 3, 2015 at 2:24 PM

      We paid around 2100 each. Best if you go on groups of five to fit the 4X4 🙂

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