Sunday, January 20, 2008

Zambales & Tarlac: Trekking and 4x4 to Mt. Pinatubo

Finally, I got to swim in the crater lake of Mount Pinatubo! And the water was light blue to blue green! There's an annual cycle of water color changes and it usually turns blue when the weather is cold. During other months, it turns murky brown. I still don't know why exactly.

I've always wanted to see Mt. Pinatubo. After all those planned trips that never pushed through, I was getting eager and impatient to see its famed crater lake. That's why when I received a message that our trip today might be canceled due to the weather conditions, I was devastated. It was raining in Batulao when I got the message but I said let's decide later. And so we waited. The final decision was to push through!

And the sun smiled on us this morning. We left Starbucks 6750 at 6:30 a.m. and stopped over at one of the gas stations along NLEX for a quick breakfast and supplies. The drive was relatively quick since it was a Sunday morning and we arrived in Capas at about 8:30 a.m. From the National Highway, you make a left in any of the streets in front of the market and drive towards the Capas Shrine. It's another 30 minutes to Barangay Sta. Juliana and you won't get lost since there are ample signs pointing towards the direction of Mt. Pinatubo.

We arrived at the Pinatubo Spa Town in time for our appointment. The package costs P1,500 and includes the 4x4 vehicle, toll fee for the Skyway (that's the new road they built to access to new jump-off point and there's a P500 fee if you use your own 4x4), a local guide and a heavy Filipino or Korean lunch when you get back.

It was a one-hour 4x4 ride to the jump-off point and that alone was an experience. The scenery was unlike anything I've seen before and the panoramic views of the lahar river beds, grasslands, streams, canyons and mountains made a surreal combination. I made a video for everyone to enjoy.

The Skyway Trail is the shorter route to Pinatubo, 3 kilometers to be exact, which can be completed in 40 minutes to an hour depending how fast you walk. It's actually the same old trail but its jump-off is closer to the crater.

The mix of colors along the way was just wonderful. It was mostly gray lahar. But if you looked closer at the sand, you could see various colors of sandstone. And imagine bright yellow streams of sulfur, streams with reddish rocks, the now healthy growth of grass and shrubs, and all the various colors of sand and stones along the trail. Simply awesome!

It was a leisurely hike thanks to the cool climate. As we neared the summit, there was a cloud cover which made the trek even more pleasant. It was drizzling by the time we made it there. But that did not dampen our spirits since the view of the picturesque lake as it beckoned was no less grand than on a sunny day.

We rushed down so that we could immediately take a dip. Whoever said that the sulfur in the water will damage your clothes should try it out first before talking. The water was very cold but refreshing. But we had to stay near the shore since the water got really deep just a few feet away. You could actually go boating but you'll have to mention this to the people in the barangay since the caretaker will have to tag along to unlock the boats.

After a few minutes swim, we rushed back to make it for lunch. Then a stroke of bad luck. My shoes gave way during the last 500 meters so I had to walk back to the jump-off point barefoot. I dealt with my ordeal silently and it was good that I lost my shoes during the sandy part of the trail so it wasn't that bad. I just had to be careful not to step on sharp rocks.

Back at the Pinatubo Spa, lunch was ready for us. I had a filling bowl of stewed chicken stuffed with sticky rice and ginseng coupled with a generous serving of kimchi. After taking a shower, we opted for the massage for P500. It came with a free facial too. The massage was really good and just the thing I needed after two days of hiking.

I would have wanted the 30-minute volcanic sand shower. This is a Japanese treatment wherein they bury your body under warmed volcanic sand which they say releases toxins and fats from your body. It's another P500 which is not bad but we had to rush back to Manila since it was getting late. We were back by 9 p.m.

Thanks to Anton for organizing this trip and for our photos which he took at the lake; and to Lauren and Maong for joining us.

Pinatubo Spa Town
Mobile +63 928 3410402
Landline +63 45 4930031

84 comments:

  1. wow that's a very nice place!
    I love your blog!and you life too :D
    you get to go to great places!
    keep it up :)

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  2. Thanks for dropping by!

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  3. sir magkano ang rent nyo sa 4x4?

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  4. Kasama na sa package ng Pinatubo Spa Town. P1,500 includes the 4x4, use of the Skyway which is P500 if you use your own vehicle, the guide, and a heavy lunch at the spa when you get back.

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  5. hi ivan! where can book this trip? saka what's the best time to start the trek? thanks.

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  6. You can contact the Pinatubo Spa Town at (0928) 3410402 or (045) 4930031. Best time to start would be about 7 to 8 a.m. since it would take about 5 to 6 hours to complete, including the 1-hour 4x4 rides to and from the jump-off. So bring a lot of trail food and water since you'll have a really late lunch. I suggest you also get the massage after. They're really good. It's P500 with a free facial.

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  7. I 've been dreaming to go to mount pinatubo for a long time. Inspiring ang mga photos nyo...Thanks for sharing

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  8. You should go. It's really worth the trip. The views at the crater are breathless, especially when the water is blue.

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  9. ganda. ganda. dito na lang sana ako sumama. hehe

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  10. parang wala na yata yung boat? last time i went there, may boats for rent.

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  11. Meron kaya lang you have to tell the caretaker before you leave para sumama siya sa inyo. Naka-padlock eh.

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  12. Great video Ivan. as always, your websites and travels are inspiring - inspiring to visit home everytime.
    -- Ariel Malig

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  13. ang ganda talaga ng Pinatubo :) hehehe... been planning on going there pero hanggang ngayon di matuloy2 grrr... kainis. ganda rin ng mga photos mo :)

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  14. Thanks for the info. I always wanted to go there but I thought it was much more expensive. P 3,500 per person.
    I will try your contacts.

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  15. hi ivan! first time to visit your blog, coolness! been to pinatubo early this month too, ang ganda! keep on truckin'! :)

    http://angelilovestheuniverse.blogspot.com

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  16. Hi Sidney, it's a great package and very affordable.

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  17. Hi audryrose and angeli! Thanks for dropping by!

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  18. Nytewing30.1.08

    Kudos to your trips. I am so inspired at your adventures that I want to try out the Pinatubo trip. Is the 1,500 per head? Will they let the guest drive the 4x4?

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  19. seemed you really had a great time ivan. i haven't gone to pinatubo yet but maybe in the future.

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  20. Hi nytewing, it's per head. I'm not sure about allowing the guest to drive though. You can ask.

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  21. Hi estan! You should go to Pinatubo while the water is blue.

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  22. Anonymous13.2.08

    can;t believe i just discovered this wonderful blog...where have i been? when i climbed pinatubo around 6 yrs ago, those 4 x4 were rare...we walked the entire length till the jump off point...i think that was around 3 to 5 hours, i forget....i was also sick that time that i fell asleep near a creekside

    that time too, we werent around to swim in the crater since the sulphur content was high and dangerous

    wenggaye

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  23. oh my! i would really go here! but is it true that dollars ang bayad dito?

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  24. Nope, it's in pesos :)

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  25. interesting... thanks for showing pictures. It looks beautiful. However I still cannot forget the tragedy its erruption brought to many people :( It's a sad event... Is there any memorial in that area for the victims of the volcano erruption?

    Jeans

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  26. Hi Ivan! Would you know if there's a hotel/accomodation where we could stay over the entire weekend?Thanks! Love your blogs and travels!

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  27. The trek after 4X4 is 60 minutes +
    To make it in the posted "40 minutes" is like training for the Olympics. Loved it regardless once I did reach the top. Just had to stop regularly to catch my breath!!!

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  28. Same here. They should change that sign! Haha!

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  29. @lorwyn, I remember passing by this travel inn along the way. I just forgot the name. I also heard you can stay in the spa. But you'll be staying on mattresses on the floor. But I'm sure it would do.

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  30. Hi Ivan,
    Thanks to your blog we managed the trip ti Pinatubo - leaving Marikina at 4:30 AM by 9:30 AM I was swimming in the lake....Finding St Juliana after Capas Tarlac was relatively easy - registering was also easy to find. Our guide must have been determined to break an Olympic record I had to ask him to slow down a couple of times :-) that's because I'm a 48 year old Englishman. I would suggest that people opt for walking early in the morning - I can imagine it can get warm during the afternoon....
    The view was one of the most spectacular I have experienced myself my Philipino father-in-law and two brothers-in-law were awestruck and all extreemly tired when we got back to Marikina - one brother slept 12 hours straight :-). Will definately do this again - a wonderful experience to visit an important piece of natural history. Next stop for us is Chocalate hills..

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  31. That's great to hear! I'm also tempted to go back. I'll be out summer. So it will have to wait until after the rainy season since it's a bit dangerous when it rains.

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  32. Hi Ivan,
    for the 4x4, is there an option for me to drive the 4x4? or do they provide a driver?

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  33. The owner of the 4x4 is usually the driver. I doubt if they will let you drive due to safety concerns. But you could try.

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  34. Nice blog entry about Pinatubo :) My 4x4 driver allowed me to drive his vehicle for a while - though not the whole way.

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  35. That's great to hear. Maybe I could try that out when I visit again during the cold months :)

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  36. hi ivan nice site by the way.. I'm planning to go there by december ok kaya yung time na yon. At pano kyo pumunta ng tarlac did you hire a car or nag commute kyo? And on that note alam mo ba kung pano mag commute from marikina to tarlac. thanks

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  37. We brought our own vehicle. From what I remember, buses to Baguio passes by Capas, Tarlac. Get off at McDonald's Capas and find a jeep or tricycle which can take you to Barangay Sta. Juliana.

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  38. vinspeed1828.8.08

    hi guys! my friends and I are planning to explore mt. pinatubo using our ATV's. im just wondering where we can leave our service vehicle and deploy with our little ATV's and is there other way goin to pinatubo? is it open for public who want to explore the place? mind also if i ask landmarks goin to sta juliana comin from manila? is it safe for us to trail there? i mean, are there no "bad guys" in the place and is it safe to leave our service vejicle there? pls help us coz we are planning to visit the place by next week... thanks and hope to hear from you guys soon...

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  39. I suggest you ask the barangay when you pay the fees. Part of the package are the fees. And if you bring your own vehicle, you'll have to pay certain fees per vehicle and per person to enter the lahar area or to use the "skyway." You can check by calling the spa.

    To get to Sta. Juliana, just make a left when you see the sign in the Capas town proper pointing to Mt. Pinatubo. It's past the Capas WWII Memorial.

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  40. vinspeed1829.8.08

    THANKS Bro! Really help us a lot... But can will they let our "truck" enter the skyway then park it somewhere then start our trail w the atv? I'm sorry coz I don't really have an idea of the place, skyway and the area itself. If ever, it will be our 1st time to trail there.. and last question, how long will it take from CLARK to CAPAS and SKYWAY? Thanks again and Good day!

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  41. The "skyway" is part of the 4x4 trail. In fact, it's the last stretch. I suppose they'll let you park your truck in the barangay.

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  42. vinspeed1829.8.08

    THANKS Dude!

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  43. Hi po.. nice pics! :) We are planning to go there on Sept 14 (Sunday). And we will not be getting any packages (para makamura, hehe). Where can we take a bath after swimming? :)

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  44. The only place I could think of is at the spa since they have a shower room there.

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  45. Andrew2.9.08

    hi! you made a great review of the mt pinatubo climb. i like the reviews you made. Me too, i went there around february and the lake was cyan color. thanks for the video.

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  46. Thanks! I want to visit Mt. Pinatubo again next year :)

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  47. Anonymous30.10.08

    Nice blissful place!!! Thanks, Ivan for sharing pics and the experience... i am wanting to go there soon, hope my schedule permits me... your blog is definitely good! keep it up IVAN!!!

    BTW, our planned schedule is on the 22th of November.. hope this will be materialized...

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  48. hi Ivan, were planning to go to Mt. Pinatubo this last week of November, were looking for a place to stay for overnight before the trek, do you know any good place to stay? you might have knew people who organize this trek...What is their contact number.. thanks your blog helps a lot

    cecil

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  49. You can try the Luisita hotels such as Microtel and Central Park.

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  50. mikelangelo20.1.09

    hi ivan, i been to pinatubo twice, and im planning to go there again with my friends..maganda kc ung mga view lalo n sa crater..Ü

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  51. hi ivan. my family and friends are planning to go trekking to mt. pinatubo this feb. is it true that you have to pass through small bodies of water? i don't wanna be walking with wet rubber shoes. my sister is thinking of using crocs? will that be okay? we're so excited but still don't know what footwear to use. :)

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  52. Yes, my companions got their shoes and socks wet. I was able to avoid the streams but it's best to wear sandals.

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  53. sir ivan first time sa blog mo very informative, been to pinatubo way back 99' wala pang 4 x 4 noon at mga packages. keep on trekking

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  54. Anonymous31.1.09

    ang ganda naman..hope i can travel also the way you did...-jhuvy

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  55. Anonymous7.2.09

    Hi,
    I'm planning to visit Mt. Pinatubo on April. I just need to calrify the color of the water on the crater during that month? :) Thanks!

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  56. Jaime Vargas26.2.09

    I just made that climb 2 weeks ago and it was THRILLING! The water was a deep, clear blue and not very cold. We took a Jeep 4x4 to get to the trail, and from there it was about an hour hike at an easy pace. I'm a former US Marine, so the hike was a 3 on a difficulty scale of 10, but for a novice should be no harder than a 6. I went with my brothers-in-law, who are from Capas, and they, along with the Aytas guide assigned to us, all wore flip-flop style sandles because at several points you will have to cross some running water and it does make it easier to cross when you don't have to worry about getting your feet wet, though the water wasn't more than ankles deep. I actually wore cross trainers and got across the small streams by hopping from rock to rock, but I did step in the water a couple of times and ended up using the extra pairs of socks I brought with me (Marine Corps training saves the day again!) Like I said, the locals used sandals, but when I go back- and I most certainly will- I will probably wear hiking boots to give better support to the ankles as a couple of times the rocks I stepped on gave way under me and made me twist in ways I was no longer used to- and the entire trail is pretty rocky, though quite manageable. The hard parts about the hike are the climb up from the ravine to summit, but there are stairs carved out to make it easier, and the view is worth it. Should you decide to venture down to the crater lake, the climb back up will get your attention and beat any stairclimber straight to heck, as well as the final climb back up to the start point, so it won't hurt to condition yourself beforehand, or else you'll probably feel it the next day or two. About the lake, it does look very clear, but I've been told that it is pretty deep, and also has a condsiderable sulfer content, so don't drink it, and if you decide to take a refreshing dip, make it brief. Speaking of drinking water, make sure you bring plenty of it. I brought 3 liters for myself, and even though we stepped off quite early around 07:30, it did get very warm as the day went on and I did use all the water I brought with me.
    Someone did ask about leaving their service vehicles and exploring with ATV's; I was told that unfortunately, it was best to leave somebody behind with the 4x4, as people that have left thiers alone while they went hiking came back to find that thier battery also went for a hike while they were gone. And since, the whole trail is actually on a military base- Philippines Air Force- the guides are very careful to keep trekkers only on the parts allowed to civilians and tourists, as the rest of the area is military.
    Someone also asked about lodging- I seen a couple of inns along the way and I also seen a few houses with rooms for rent, with tourists welcome. Just something to think about. Thank you for letting me post my experience and tips- I highly recommend it!!!!

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  57. Thanks for that detailed account! :D

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  58. lagas3.3.09

    hi! i want to join the experience! is that 1500 per person? thanks!

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  59. hi ivan nice blog you got there. is it safe to leave your vehicle at the spa?

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  60. hey ivan! so excited to do that myself next month. saw your blog when i googled pinatubo trekking. great!

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  61. SABITMountaineers is a leading tour organizer of Pinatubo Trekking activities. We handled and organized corporate climbs (Hewlett Packard, Bayantel, Azeus, Procter and Gamble, Solar Sports) as big as 70 pax. We had organized a total of 25 Pinatubo Treks to this date and counting. With 100% fun, success rate and no accidents. Your safety is paramount to us.

    CLimb Fee is 1,700 per head.

    Inclusive of

    2 way private aircon van transfer
    2 way 4x4 jeep rental
    local guide fee
    pinatubo skyway toll fee
    conservation fee


    If you have any questions regarding the climb, please feel free to contact me.


    Thanks.

    Jay Hernandez
    Expedition Leader

    09278745864

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  62. Anonymous12.2.10

    Hi Ivan!

    I loved reading your blog as I have done the trek too! I am currently writing a feature article for my journalism uni class in Scotland, UK about Mount Pinatubo and was wondering if you could give me your opinion as to why it is such a great way to spend a holiday?

    Thanks so much for all the amazing pic and videos! Great memories.

    Caroline

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  63. Jayne18.2.10

    Hey we're planning to climb this feb 26, 5 of us. we just want to start from the spa-mt.pinatubo-spa.If we will just get in there, can we easily find a package tour ?

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  64. hanah22.2.10

    Is there a clearance from DOT and DENR already to trek Mt. Pinatubo?

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  65. hi sir ivan! ganda po ng blog nu?..

    interested po kasi yung grupo nmin n mag hike sa Pinatubo..pero ndi po kami mga professional hikers..mejo nagtitipid din po.. may mga nakuha kaming quotes from other Mountaineering (korek po ba??? ) groups na nag oofer ng Pinatubo tour package..eh mejo mahal po (prices ranging from 2.5k to 4k..whew!).. then nabasa ko po dito sa site nyo na nagawa niyo ng pumanik ng Pinatubo na 1.5k lang ang expense thru Pinatubo Town Spa (mejo mabigat pa rin po e...dyahe!..)...pede nu po ba kami matulungan na makapag hike sa Pinatubo ng maliit lang ang expense..pede nu po b masagot un mga question q?..tnx po..

    1. may mare-rent po ba kaming 4x4 sa Bamban or sa Capas, and how much po mag rent?..kung may kakilala po kau, pede nu po ba mabigay sa akin un contact#..

    2. magkano po ang parking fee sa Tarlac?.. un sa jump-off point po?..may dala kc kaming sariling wheels..

    3. how much po un clearance fee?..and saan ito makukuha?..sa city hall po ba ng Capas or Bamban?

    4. how much din po un toll fee sa Pinatubo Skyway?..

    5. may makukuha din po ba kaming tour guide doon?..how much po un rate?..

    hope u can help us...tnx po in advance and God Bless!..

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  66. hi sir ivan..ganda po ng blog nu!..

    interested po kasi yung grupo nmin n mag hike sa Pinatubo..pero ndi po kami mga professional hikers..mejo nagtitipid din po.. may mga nakuha kaming quotes from other Mountaineering (korek po ba??? ) groups na nag oofer ng Pinatubo tour package..eh mejo mahal po (prices ranging from 2.5k to 4k..whew!).. then nabasa ko po dito sa site nyo na nagawa niyo ng pumanik ng Pinatubo na 1.5k lang ang expense (mejo mabigat pa rin po e...dyahe!..)...pede nu po ba kami matulungan na makapag hike sa Pinatubo ng maliit lang ang expense..pede nu po b masagot un mga question q?..tnx po..

    1. may mare-rent po ba kaming 4x4 sa Bamban or sa Capas, and how much po mag rent?..kung may kakilala po kau, pede nu po ba mabigay sa akin un contact#.. pkisend nlng po sa email add q (jongskie.red@gmail.com)

    2. how much po un clearance fee?..and saan ito makukuha?..sa city hall po ba ng Capas or Bamban?

    3. how much din po un toll fee sa Pinatubo Skyway?..

    4. may makukuha din po ba kaming tour guide doon sa jump-off point (Sta. Juliana)?..how much po un rate?..

    hope u can help us..gs2 po talga namin ma experience ang Pinatubo pero limited po un budget..tnx po in advance and God Bless!...

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  67. hi! QUESTION also:
    1. atv's possible up to the crater view? from the point where u started to hike, can all terrain vehicles climb to that?
    2. where can we leave our atv if ever?
    THANKS!

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  68. hi! QUESTION also...
    1. is it possible to climb up the "hike" part using ATV?
    2. if not, is there a place where we can leave our atv so we could hike?

    THANKS! :)

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  69. I don't think so since it's mostly rocks and stream. You can park at the jump-off point of the hike. But make sure there's someone to watch over your vehicles.

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  70. Navette13.4.10

    Hi Ivan! I've been following you even in Facebook... I love your blog :)

    I would like to know if we could rent a 4x4 vehicle in Capas if we get there early? Like 5 am?

    We also want to admire the beauty of Mt. Pinatubo :)

    Thank you and best regards.

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  71. hi! love your blog.. i have a question.. is it safe to trek mt. pinatubo on august? im planning to surprise my bf for his birthday and im not sure if it's safe to go there during that period.

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  72. Anonymous10.8.10

    hi k.ivan..ask ko lng how much total nagastos nyo sa tour na yan ?

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  73. Anonymous6.1.11

    My hubby and I is going to the Pinatubo this weekend. We are both excited and i have been reading your blog over and over for the tips. we are only 2 so if anyone is interested to join this saturday, then we can meet up at capas tarlac to Sta. Juliana.
    thanks Ivan for this blog

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  74. Pinay_Tunay23.4.11

    we went there yesterday...and the experience was beyond compare to other adventures i've had...truly, surreal..a dream come true. we took the long trail (which i did not regret in spite of the hardships of the long trek...not to mention it rained on our way back. it got scary due to possible erosion. and i was chilling-we were not even half way our trek back. it started to get darker. these are the things that you should be prepared for...but if you have passion for real adventure, this is must, at least once in your life...im now planning to go back before summer ends, and take the skyway. anyone interested? :-)

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  75. super fun and wonderful experience.. :P

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  76. Being on nature and traversing a demanding terrain in Pinatubo has taught me that life is simple, and you can cross any pass if you have the spirit. The mysterious appearance of a place, a tiny leaf or a colored rock on a trail can reveal to you something about the complexities of life hidden within.
    Really awesome place!!!

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  77. Anonymous23.9.11

    hi ivan....sobrang laki tulong ng blog pra sa amin mahilig sa adventure...im from cebu..nakakuha kami piso fare goin clark and we plan dis 3 days adventure we decided punta anawangin,camara,capones and nagsasa...since gus2 namin sulitin yung 3 days naghahanap pa kami iba gawin...were planning 2 include dis trip mt. pinatubo trekk...can i ask for advice ano dapat namin unahin dis trip 2 pinatubo o yung anawangin???...friday evening arrival namin sa clark den monday nyt pabalik ng cebu...thnk u...:)

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  78. Getting on Pinatubo is pretty demanding but worth every minute of it.

    It is a journey I can't wait to do again!

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  79. Patrik8.1.12

    I finally did the Mt Pinatubo trekking yesterday with my 6yo daughter. The Skyway is closed now so we had to walk for 2,5 hours one way. It was well worth it! It's an incredible place.

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  80. Anonymous11.1.12

    hi sir patrik i would like to inquire how much is the rate now for the 4x4 renting? thanks.

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  81. Patrik14.1.12

    I don't know how much the renting rate is in Capas. I booked via Amega Tours in Angeles, 2800p. per person (we where 4 persons) including transportation to Capas, 4x4, tour guide and lunch in Capas.

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  82. Anonymous20.1.12

    helo po would you recommend us,a package day tour for two we plan to go jan.31,2012..you may email me at roleniea@yahoo.com..i try to find to some but it's so expensive..im w/ an Irish friend since i want him to see this beautiful crater I've seen before..thank you!

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  83. Anonymous13.7.12

    I am glad to hear of your successful trip. Our trip was not pleasant last May 2012. We organized a tour for almost 30 persons and the 4 x 4 cars arranged by PDC Spa Town did not arrived on time as shown in their schedule. They want us to fit it in 1 4 x 4 car and a jeepney whose wheels got stuck in the riverbed for hours. We had a delay of 3-4 hours at the start. around 11 am in the foot where we started the trek, Mt. Pinatubo at 2 pm then back to PDC Spa Town at almost 6pm for our lunch, it endangered our water supply and we were all very exhausted and hungry. arrived back in Manila past 10 p.m.instead of past 6pm. the families of the participants were all woried. We had lots of complain from participants some came from major foreign Embassies and was left in the middle of it all writing lots of apology letters and refunding the group 50% for the inconvenienced it has caused. PDC did not want to help. Sad. When you book this tour, better to do it when it is summer and make sure your 4 x 4 car is definitely confirmed.

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  84. Anonymous12.10.12

    Can I use 4x2 Mitsubishi Pajero instead of renting 4x4?

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