Mt. Pinatubo: A Beautiful Disaster

Hiking Mt. Pinatubo

The mythical bird, phoenix, always fascinates me. Legends tell it possesses the gift of immortality; living in a cycle of death in fiery flames and humbly being reborn from its own ashes.

The cataclysmic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo happened on June 15, 1991. This disaster caused widespread destruction on agriculture, properties, and lives, more than 700 people died from the eruption mostly from collapsing roofs and diseases that emerged from evacuation sites. Today it is considered to be the second most destructive eruption in recent history. This is a tragedy that reminded us how nature can claim lives in one single event.

Today Mt. Pinatubo is one of the favorite hiking trails in the Philippines. A hiking spot that can easily be trekked and can offer a majestic view of its turquoise-green crater lake.

Hiking Mt. Pinatubo

Part I- 4X4 Ride

5:30 am As the daylight seeps through the horizon make sure to have yourself registered at Capas tourism office and secured your group for the exhilarating 4×4 ride. After securing permits and paying applicable fees and finalizing your group for the 4×4 jeep you will be given an assigned vehicle for the off-road track.

6:30 am We managed to secure our slot and headed off to the crater. It could take up to 2 hours for the off road vehicles to reach Botolan jump-off point.

7:00 am Stopover to enjoy the magnificent view of sand hills. These hills are made of sand that was a product of the last eruption. Constant erosion gave these land formations a unique look.

7:15 am The excitement is rushing through my veins to see the crater that they called A Beautiful Disaster. The view is simply out of this world!

A Landslide

7:30 am An unexpected thing happened! To our knowledge, our ride will take us to Botolan directly however because of a recent landslide we are forced to trek an additional 2 kilometers to reach Botolan.

Negative side: I was not ready for the said trek and my water allowance is only good for the 5-kilometer trail from jump-off and it was also drizzling.

Positive side: I was able to enjoy the journey more. It was fun walking on streams and managing your way through rocky obstacles. Honestly, I think it was a good thing that we had this extra trail to trek. Walking under rain is a new experience and it is a blessing otherwise it would really be hot in here if the sun is up and remember that I didn’t carry enough water!

8:15 am We are still on the trail and observing Aeta children playing is such a delight. A true manifestation that happiness is a mindset. It doesn’t count what you don’t have but what you actually have and enjoy everything you have.

Part II- Trekking

8:45 am Finally we reached the jump-off point and a 15-minute break is definitely refreshing, after-all this should be our starting point for the trek if the landslide did not happen.

9:00 am We have to proceed trekking to reach the crater. This part is a little bit challenging than our initial trail since we need to cross several streams but it is highly manageable since Mt. Pinatubo doesn’t have steep assaults.

9:15 am Constant stream-crossings and rocky obstacles greeted us and the rain is not forgiving either.

9:30 am Last stopover, adrenaline now kicking wildly as excitement to reach the crater nears! This post is kind of challenging as it speaks as if “Now prove your age!” Proudly I was able to manage to finish the last leg from 9:48-10:00!

10:00 am I am simply lost for words! The crater is majestic and simply stunning! Truly Mt. Pinatubo is one of the most beautiful hiking destinations in the Philippines and a good mountain to climb for beginners of this hobby.

10:15 am After enjoying the lake’s view from a higher perspective it is time to go down and dip into the waters. The water is so cool and refreshing that it compensate all the efforts given for the trek. The rain also stopped as soon as we reach the crater allowing us to fully enjoy the view.


Beautiful Disaster as Mt. Pinatubo is being called, definitely, it is. Like a phoenix’s death to a fiery finish so as Mt. Pinatubo on its eruption; Like the phoenix’s rebirth from ashes so as Mt. Pinatubo’s captivating beauty born from mud-flows and volcanic ashes.

Mt. Pinatubo reminds us that not everything that bad things happen for a reason, that a disaster once settled will bring out the best in us. May we all continue traveling to find more places that will stir our hearts to be our best selves.

Helpful Tips

  • Bring enough water 2 liters at least.
  • Most advisable to wear sandals or flipflops.
  • Don’t rush on the trail it is more enjoyed on a slow pace trekking.
  • Bring packed lunch.
  • Best to have a group of 4 for comfort but can go up to 5 to lessen the cost.
  • Public transportation is not advisable, better bring or rent a vehicle.


3:00 amLeave Manila bound for Capas, Tarlac
5:00 amArrival in Capas, Tarlac
5:30 amStart your Registration
6:30 amStart of 4x4 Off-Road Drive
7:30 amStart of Trekking
8:45 amArrival at Botolan Jump-Off Point
9:00 amResume Trekking
9:30 amFinal Leg Rest Stop
10:00 amArrival at Crater Lake
11:15 amLunch
11:45amStart Descend
3:00 pmArrival in Capas, Tarlac
3:15 pmFreshen-Up and Eat Snacks
4:00 pmDeparture for Manila
8:00 pmArrival in Manila


Bus Fare from Cubao to Tarlac Crossing185.00 PhpPer Person
Tricycle Rent going to Mt. Pinatubo Satellite Office300.00 PhpMax of 3 Persons
4x4 Ride3000.00 PhpMax of 5 Persons
Local Guide500.00 PhpPer Vehicle Rented
Capas Tourism Fee300.00 PhpPer Person
Botolan Tourism Fee400.00 PhpPer Person

Contact Person

Rojan Santos
Booking Officer, Capas Tarlac
(0949) 123 9685



  • Thelittlelai: Beyond limits

    I’ve been dreaming to visit Mt. Pinatubo, and hopefully I can get here soon If I get the chance. Truly, it is a beautiful disaster, I sill remember a lot of stories when Mt. Pinatubo erupted before, my grand father used to share stories about it when I was still a kiddo, that’s why I really want to come here and experience its innate beauty. I love that you get to meet our Aeta’s friends and shown us, that happiness is indeed a mindset. Thank you for sharing your experience and for including your itinerary.

  • Marjorie G.

    I remember the Pinatubo eruption. I was 9 years old then and I remember the entire neighborhood, our house, suddenly covered with volcano ashes. My parents toiled to clean our house for days. Then it was all over the news, even at a young age I knew that it was a catastrophic event.

    I was supposed to go to Pinatubo this June but I cancelled the event because most attendees couldn’t go anymore. I still want to go though, so I guess I would just join a group tour. The view of the crater is just amazing.

    • Jonathan Morales

      I was just a year old when it erupted so I don’t really what was it like. What I know though is that growing up it is always a topic and for some reasons I grew up afraid of Pinatubo. My vocabulary as far as I can remember tells that I considered “Pinatubo” to be a synonym for eruption.

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