Mount Pinatubo Visitors Guide: Manila’s Best Outdoor Adventure

Mount Pinatubo is an active stratovolcano located in the Central Luzon region of the Philippines. 

The volcano had been dormant for over 500 years until it erupted in 1991, causing widespread destruction in the surrounding areas. 

The eruption was one of the most significant volcanic eruptions of the 20th century, and its impact was felt around the world.

Today, Mount Pinatubo has become a popular tourist destination due to its unique landscapes, which were formed by the volcanic eruption. 

The area around the mountain is dotted with towering ash canyons, colorful lakes, and scenic rivers, making it a popular spot for hikers, nature lovers, and adventurers.

Visitors to Mount Pinatubo can enjoy a range of outdoor activities, including hiking to the crater lake, exploring the surrounding scenery, and camping overnight in the mountains. 

While the volcano remains active, it is closely monitored by local authorities to ensure the safety of visitors.

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Getting to Mount Pinatubo

Mount Pinatubo is located in the Central Luzon region of the Philippines, approximately 90 kilometers northwest of Manila. There are several ways to get to Mount Pinatubo from Manila, including:

Private Tour: Many tour operators in Manila offer guided tours to Mount Pinatubo, including transportation to and from the mountain. 

This is a popular option for visitors who want a hassle-free experience and the convenience of having everything arranged for them.

Public Transportation: For those who prefer to travel independently, there are public transportation options available. 

From Manila, take a bus to the town of Capas in Tarlac province, then take a jeepney to the jump-off point at Santa Juliana. From there, you can either hike or take a 4×4 vehicle to the crater lake.

Private Vehicle: Visitors can also rent a car or hire a private vehicle to get to Mount Pinatubo. The route from Manila to the mountain is straightforward and can be easily navigated using a GPS or map.

Regardless of which option you choose, it’s important to keep in mind that the road leading to Mount Pinatubo can be rough and rocky, and may require a bit of off-roading. 

Visitors should also be prepared for a long journey, as the trip from Manila to the mountain can take several hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.

Things to Do at Mount Pinatubo

Hiking to the Crater Lake 

One of the most popular activities at Mount Pinatubo is hiking to the crater lake. 

The trek to the lake takes approximately 2-3 hours, depending on your fitness level and pace. 

The trail can be challenging, with steep inclines and rocky terrain, but the views along the way are breathtaking. 

Exploring the Surrounding Landscapes 

Mount Pinatubo’s eruption in 1991 left behind a unique landscape of towering ash canyons and vibrant rivers. 

Visitors can explore the surrounding scenery on foot or by taking a 4×4 vehicle tour. 

Along the way, you’ll encounter stunning waterfalls, lush forests, and panoramic views of the mountain.

Camping Overnight 

For those who want to experience the mountain’s natural beauty for more than just a day trip, camping overnight is an option. 

There are several campsites located near the crater lake, and many tour operators offer overnight camping trips that include transportation, meals, and camping equipment.

Birdwatching 

Mount Pinatubo is home to a diverse range of bird species, including the Philippine eagle, the largest bird of prey in the world. 

Visitors can go birdwatching with a local guide, who can point out the various species that inhabit the mountain.

Photography 

Mount Pinatubo’s unique landscapes and scenery make it a photographer’s paradise. Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, the mountain offers countless opportunities to capture stunning photos of the natural surroundings.

Relaxation

For those who simply want to relax and unwind, there are plenty of opportunities to do so at Mount Pinatubo. You can have a picnic along the riverbankor simply soak up the stunning scenery and fresh mountain air.

Best Time to Visit Mount Pinatubo

The best time to visit Mount Pinatubo is during the dry season, which runs from November to April. 

During this time, the weather is generally sunny and clear, making it ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and exploring the surrounding landscapes.

Visiting during the rainy season, which runs from May to October, can be more challenging as the trails can be muddy and slippery, and visibility may be limited due to fog and heavy rains. 

Additionally, there is a higher risk of landslides and flash floods during this time.

It’s also worth noting that the crater lake can sometimes be closed to visitors during the rainy season due to safety concerns, so it’s best to check with local authorities before planning your trip.

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Fees to Visit Mount Pinatubo

The local government requires visitors to secure a permit before entering the Mount Pinatubo area. 

The permit can be obtained from the Capas Tourism Office or the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) office in Tarlac. The permit fee is PHP 700 per person, and it is valid for one day.

Visitors can also choose to book a tour package from one of the many tour operators that offer guided tours to Mount Pinatubo. 

These packages typically include transportation, permits, fees, and other necessary arrangements. Tour prices may vary depending on the package and the number of people in the group. Booking a tour is the most popular option.

It’s important to note that visitors are not allowed to enter the Mount Pinatubo area without a permit, and failure to comply may result in fines or other penalties. 

Additionally, visitors are required to follow the rules and regulations set by the local government and tour operators to ensure their safety and the preservation of the natural surroundings.

Where to Stay

There are several options for accommodation near Mount Pinatubo, ranging from basic camping sites to more comfortable hotels and resorts. 

Camping: There are several camping sites near the crater lake. These sites offer basic facilities such as tents, sleeping bags, and portable toilets. 

Visitors can bring their own food and cooking equipment or avail of the services of local tour operators that offer camping packages.

Homestays: Visitors can also opt to stay with local families in nearby villages, such as Santa Juliana or Botolan. 

These homestays offer a unique cultural experience and an opportunity to interact with the locals. Some homestays offer basic amenities such as a bed, a bathroom, and a common area, while others offer more comfortable rooms with air conditioning and other amenities.

Resorts and Hotels: For those who prefer more comfortable accommodation, there are several resorts and hotels located within a 1-2 hour drive from Mount Pinatubo. An example is Green Canyon Resort 40 kilometers away.

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