Philippines Zambales

The Beginning of a Journey (Mt. Pinatubo, Zambales Part 1)

They say there are two types of travellers – those who travel for the journey and those who do so for the destination. Although I may be a little bit of both, I’d say I’m a journey person more than anything.

The visit to Mt. Pinatubo was my first official trek ever (I went up Taal last week, but I realized that was nothing compared to real hiking). Our itinerary said it was going to be a 30-45 minute walk towards the crater, but when briefing came, we found out that what they call the “Skyway route” no longer exists. Apparently, the route has been destroyed by the ever-popular typhoon Ondoy back in September 2009. Here’s our Trail AdvenTours itinerary:


  • 0300am Registration at Mcdonalds, El Pueblo, Ortigas.
  • 0330am Departure from Manila to Capas, Tarlac via NLEX.
  • 0430am Stopover at NLEX after Malolos Exit (You may eat breakfast here or buy your packed lunch for the trek).
  • 0630am ETA jumpoff point. Board 4×4 vehicles. Adventure begins!
  • 0800am End of 4×4 ride. Start trekking.
  • 0930am ETA at the crater of Mt. Pinatubo (with adjustments).
  • 1200pm Head back by foot then by 4×4 to jumpoff. Option to have spa/massage at Pinatubo Spa Town.
  • 0430pm ETD to Manila.
  • TREKKING ROUTE: We will be using the Skyway route (30-45 mins walk) unless not passable (which happens if there is too much rain on the previous day. We ask all participants to be prepared for the eventuality of the longer route).

The thought of a longer journey actually got me a bit more excited. The route is about 10km and is a 2-3 hour hike. I’ve seen photos of the crater; I know for a fact that it’s magnificent, but I know there is so much more to this trip than that.

We got to Capas, Tarlac right before sunrise. We went on board the 4×4. It’s a 1-hour long ride before the trek.

These things seat 5. So in our red truck was me, master hiker Joie, sister Nica.

Plus Trail AdvenTours guide Agnes and her cousin Carlo.

Off we went.

Through different terrains.

Hanging at the back of the truck is our tour guide, Kuya Romy – he’s an Aeta, speaks fluent Filipino and the Aeta dialect. A little something more about him: although living in the area, he’s married to a woman from Pampanga with three kids – he calls his non-Aeta looking son “unat” because of his straight hair.

I had that feeling that my ass was going to hurt big time after that rocky ride, but seriously – given the choice between a 2-hour traffic jam on a Monday morning and this one, I’d choose this anytime.

The sun greeted us good morning.

The view on our way there had the kind of beauty you thought you’d only see in photos – until you attempt taking pictures and realize that even your images don’t give justice to it.

It was a Saturday and the weather was fine. Just like us, a lot of people had Pinatubo in mind.

The bumpy 4×4 ride ends here, and the second part of the journey begins.

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