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Travel Guide: Witnessing the beautiful disaster of Mount Pinatubo

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Mount Pinatubo: A beautiful disaster

Mount Pinatubo is one of the most picturesque volcanoes in the Philippines. With that said, it has also one of the more popular volcano crater lakes in the country. Hiking to these nature’s work-of-art is very tiring but the destination is surprising. You would have that feeling of reconnection with nature once you set foot on Mount Pinatubo’s viewing deck.

Mount Pinatubo Crater Lake | Turista Boy

The view deck, which is the more popular sights going to the volcano’s crater, has quite a view of Mount Pinatubo’s landscape. All the exasperation during the climb will be wiped out once you see the crater lake itself.

Mount Pinatubo erupted violently on June 15, 1991, making it the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century after Mount Novarupta in Alaska. With its iconic and sudden eruption, a sudden splurge of lahar and volcanic ash were spewed.

Years after, the Local Government saw investment on this beautiful disaster and made it one of the premier tourist spots in Luzon.


Things I love about the Mount Pinatubo Adventure

Mount Pinatubo is an unusual tourist destination to visit, but you might as well consider this whenever visiting Botolan, Zambales. Mount Pinatubo is my 5th summit for 2017. Here, I jotted down some of the things I loved during the visit.

1. Early registration

Registration in Capas, Tarlac | Mount Pinatubo Turista Boy

Registration starts, I think, at around 5 or 6 in the morning and end at around 7 a.m. The registration is closing early so as to regulate the number of people going in and out of Mount Pinatubo. This is also to give equal chances to the locals to handle every tourist group that will be assigned to them.

On our way to Mount Pinatubo | Turista Boy

Every group is allowed with a maximum of 5. This is to ensure comfort when riding the 4×4. The guide assigned to you will accompany to the drop off point in Botolan, Zambales for another registration before starting the hike going to Mount Pinatubo’s crater.

The earlier you go, the better. It is because the sun is not yet out and you get to enjoy the cool breeze in Mount Pinatubo. Worry not as there are small eateries, stores, and bathing stations in the vicinity of the Municipal Tourism Office of Capas (in Tarlac).

4x4 Mount Pinatubo | Turista Boy

You will then be escorted by another guide when you hike the 3 Kilometer stretch of rocks and rivers going to Pinatubo. There is also a store at the registration area if you wish to have refreshments and souvenirs from the trip. The hike will last around 1 to 1 hour and 30 minutes, depending on your group’s pacing. Upon reaching the 2 Kilometer mark, this is what you will see:

Where do you belong? | Mount Pinatubo Turista Boy

Turista Boy Tip:

Buy trail food and drinks before going to the registration site. Food and beverages in the area are quite expensive.


2. 4×4 experience

4x4 to Mount Pinatubo | Turista Boy

The 4×4 experience is a first for me. It is the first time I rode on such going to the foot of Mount Pinatubo. Given Capas’ route’s terrain is rocky and rugged, riding a 4×4 is mandatory. The ride from Capas Sattelite Municipal Tourism Office to Botolan jump off is around 1 to 1 hour and 30 minutes, depending on weather conditions.

On the way to Mount Pinatubo | Turista Boy

You will get to cross rivers, etched mountains, grazing lands for bovine animals, and big boulders. Don’t worry as the drivers are experienced enough to handle such rugged nature of the terrain. It is also part of the adventure! Yeah!


3. Meet and know more about the locals

With the aeta kids - Mount Pinatubo | Turista Boy

Upon reaching the jump off point in Botolan, Zambales, we met a handful of Aetas in the vicinity. They are the ones overseeing the place and they actually live in the outskirts of the mountains.

If you want to organize an outreach program for the locals in different sitios, coordinate with the Botolan Municipal Tourism Office (at the second registration area) or ask your tour guide on how you can reach the sitios located within Mount Pinatubo.


4. Nature trip at one of its best

Mount Pinatubo Crater Lake | Turista Boy

We labeled it as a “beautiful disaster” because of the prized view you get to see upon reaching Mount Pinatubo’s crater. Along the trip, especially on the hike part, you will get closer to nature. Different terrains with different stories to tell, the hike is one of the must-be-experienced in visiting Mount Pinatubo.

Once getting to the main viewpoint of Pinatubo’s crater, you will get an 180° view of it. You will never run out of good angles to take a photo of it. It is like a huge mural painting when captured by a high-end camera.


Two ways

There are two ways going to Mount Pinatubo’s crater. The easier one is via Capas and the harder one is through Porac.

a) Capas, Tarlac route

The Capas route is the most usual route in going to Pinatubo. This is where you get to ride 4x4s, get to see the Aeta Community up close and have an easy hike up to the main viewpoint. All in all, it may take you 3 to 4 hours before getting to see the crater.

b) Porac, Pampanga route

Also known as the “Delta 5” route, the way through Porac is quite challenging. A rigorous hike awaits the ones who would traverse this route. It may also take you around 4 hours to see the crater. It also offers a different viewpoint of Mount Pinatubo’s crater.


Travel Guide

Here is my own version of a travel guide going to Mount Pinatubo!


0400 H

ETD Cubao/Manila

0530 or 0600 H

ETA Capas, Tarlac (McArthur Highway entrance)

0600 – 0630 H

Travel time (Capas McArthur Highway to Capas Satellite Municipal Tourism Office (Barangay Sta. Juliana)) – for registration

0630 – 0700 H

Register at Municipal Tourism office; breakfast

0700 – 0830 H

Travel time (Capas Tourism Office to Botolan Jump-off)

0830 – 0900 H

Register at Botolan Jump-off

0900 – 1000 or 1030 H

Hike Botolan Jump-off to Mount Pinatubo crater

1030 – 1100 H

Rest, photo ops at crater

1100 – 1130 H


1130 – 1200 H

Photo ops at the crater lake

1200 – 1330 H

Travel time (Botolan Jump-off to Capas Tourism Office)

1330 – 1400 or 1430 H

Rest, take a bath, prepare for departure

1430 – 1500 H

Travel time (Capas Tourism Office to McArthur Highway)

1500 – 1600 H

Snacks/Early Dinner (somewhere along McArthur Highway)

1600 H

ETD Capas, Tarlac

1730 or 1800 H

ETA Cubao/Manila

*Much better if your group is divisible by 5. This is to facilitate easier division when riding the 4x4s.




(Van – better if you rent one): 6000 / 10 pax – 2-way

(Bus – Baguio-Capas, Tarlac) – 2-way

(Bus – Manila-Capas, Tarlac) – 2-way





Hiking Stick (optional) 20
4×4 Rental (maximum of 5 per vehicle): 3000 / 5 pax 600
Local Guide Fee (per vehicle): 500 / 5 pax 100
Capas Tourism Fee (per person) 300
Botolan Tourism Fee (per person) 400
Trail Food and Drink 200~
Total (rough estimate):


*Expenses are based on a 10-person group. Expenses vary on how big the group is.


Other Pictures:

With Wander Pinas | Mount Pinatubo Turista Boy

With Wander Pinas fam!

Signage going to Mount Pinatubo | Turista Boy

Mount Pinatubo Crater Lake Marker | Turista Boy

Mount Pinatubo Crater Lake Marker

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22 thoughts on “Travel Guide: Witnessing the beautiful disaster of Mount Pinatubo

  1. Swati says:

    Looks like a good way to spend a day. It’s not everyday you get to visit a crater lake and trek a volcanic mountain 🙂 . Loved the pics and very practical tips

    1. Thanks, Swati! Mount Pinatubo is a good place to visit! Very peaceful! Hope you could visit this soon!

  2. Ambuj says:

    Mount Pinatubo is worth appreciation! I wasn’t aware that it was the 2nd largest second largest volcanic eruption in the 20th century! Now, i really need to put it on my bucket list!

    1. Yup! It is, Ambuj! You should visit this place ASAP! Hahaha!

  3. The fact that the started the registration early and to close it early is a good sense of responsible tourism since, they can control the crowd. I haven’t been to Mt. Pinatubo, but this has long been penned on my bucket list. I like to try the 4×4 as well cause I find it great. The view is really astonishing and will surely leave me in awe. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    1. Puntahan mo na, Lai! The 4×4 experience was great! Super! The view of the crater lake is one of the most astonishing I have ever seen! Balitaan mo ako if you’ll go there! 🙂

  4. Emily says:

    What a place! This is incredible, the landscape is so rugged and beautiful! Is it possible to swim in the crater lake?

    1. It really is, Emily! Unfortunately you cannot swim in the crater lake as there are no lifeguards in the area. 🙂

  5. This is my first hike for 2017! <3 I'm so in love with Pinatubo – the scenery + experience combined. I've been wanting to visit it 6 years ago, I'm soo happy I finally did 😉 If I'd recommend one mountain hike you should never miss in your lifetime – it definitely is Mt. Pinatubo 🙂

    1. Super duper love the scenery there, ate Arrianne! Kahit super init, okay lang. The view is the reward!

  6. Joanna says:

    Your photos are really beautiful and show how amazing the nature is, by creating this stunning lake in the crater of a volcano. The jeep ride looks very fun as well. It looks like you had quite an adventure crossing the river through the stone canyon. What a great adventure!

    1. Thank you, ate Joanna! It was really one hell of an adventure! I wanna go back sooner!

  7. Mount Pinatubo is definitely something we would like to go to. We are planning to visit Philippines next year. When would be a good time to visit? Your experience sounds amazing. You have inspired us to do the same!

    1. Hey, guys! It’s better if you visit Pinatubo during the summer season. Though dry, at least you would not take the risk of passing through high tide rivers during the rainy season. 🙂

  8. Ami says:

    Alright – so there is a drive- rather off roading, there is a trek, there are local cultural experiences and amazing nature. This one sure is a lovely experience. Someday Someday!

    1. You should visit Pinatubo soon, Ami!

  9. sophie says:

    This is certainly like a hidden gem to me. Never heard about this place before! but as I have heard now I think this is the place where I want to be soon! Thanks for sharing! Cheers!

    1. Now that’s one reason for you to visit the Philippines, Sophie! Hit me up when you’re going! Would love to join you!

  10. Reshma says:

    Mount Pinatubo looks too pretty. Glad that you could spend time with locals and kids! I love hiking and mountains and would definitely like to try this out on my next trip!

  11. Johna says:

    Always wanted to go here!!! Def. planning to go here this year. Is december a good month to visit?

  12. Can’t wait my upcoming trip to the Philippines in November to conquer Mount Pinatubo. Thanks so much for your sharing!

    1. You’re welcome! Enjoy your trip to the Philippines!

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