Hiking Mount Pinatubo, The Philippines

Mount Pinatubo Hike

A Day Tour To Hike Mt Pinatubo

​I had planned Mt Pinatubo and booked it before we left with Shore-2-Shore the company we did the Underground River with. Unfortunately, our voucher said a 5am pickup and Grace our guide arrived at 4am! Apparently they had revised the pickup time via email but of course we were on the road by then and I hadn't seen it. So a very frenzied start to the morning but to our credit we all got down to the van by 4:15. A crazy paced ride through Manila ensued and we actually arrived at the Pinatubo Gate first.

The last few kilometers down to the start area for Mt Pinatubo is actually what once was the Death March Road. There's not much to see now as the highway follows the direct path of the road but Grace was kind enough to tell us of the statistics and give us heaps of info on the Death March road. While its mostly flat, it was a very similar situation to our Kakoda trail and an appalling example of POW treatment. I won't go into it here, I'll leave you to do the research.


The Blood Pressure Test

Upon arrival at the gate if you are over 40 they take your blood pressure before you can go.


Nothing like scaring you about the 2 and a half hour trek up you are about to take! My blood pressure was slightly elevated (mainly because I hate those damn blood pressure cuffs) so I had to drink a can of pineapple juice and wait for 10 mins. I have no idea what the pineapple juice is supposed to do however in 10 mins it was declared “perfect” and off we went.

I've never had high blood pressure in my life and have often had the challenge of low blood pressure, however it all worked out and off we went.

​You get into an open backed jeep and prepare for an hour and a half of 4WD-ing to get you to the start point for the trek. The jeep is actually pretty cool. You are driving up what was the lava flow from the 1996 eruption so the landscape is very extreme. It feels like a cross between Avatar and Star Wars and varies from limestone pinnacles to moss covered giant boulders. It's not exactly the most comfortable trip but its a good introduction to the mountain.


The Pinatubo Hike

Once you get as far as the jeeps can go you then have a two and a half hour walk to the crater. After the blood pressure drama I thought it was going to be really gnarly but you are pretty much just walking up a river bed. There is of course a few crossings and as usual the wobbly rocks are not user friendly to me and I got bucked off a giant one the second crossing.

A mere flesh wound – and on we go.

Is the Hike Up Mt Pinatubo Har?

Its not a hard walk at all but it does range from beach type sand to round softball size river bed rocks so its quite diverse in itself. You get to the last section before the crater climb and the sign alone gives you the assumption that this last 20 minute push is going to be really tough. Nope – still exceedingly easy. Its a tighter track and you are literally following the creek bed but still no elevation to speak of and apart from the 40 odd steps at the end, again, still very easy.

Maybe the blood pressure test is necessary

The crater is spectacular and while its disappointing that you can't swim, its postcard material for sure. We did the star jump shot, had a very overpriced Gatorade, sat in the shade for about 15 mins and then started the haul down.

We passed a few people coming up who were dying! I mean absolutely shagged and wanting to know how much further. OMG – apart from the fact it wasn't on bitumen it is just walking. Maybe they've had cause for the blood pressure test??

You do ascend quite a way but because you do it over 8 or 9 kilometres its so gradual you can't even notice it. I'm not quite sure how someone decides to do Mt Pinatubo from their lounge chair and doesn't think they should do some kind of preparation, but it seems that's exactly what they do. Weird.

Once you get half way out in the jeep its at least 11am or 12 pm, depending on when you started and the sun has now dried the riverbed from the overnight dew and it's the dusty ride from hell back to the starting point. Of course sitting in the back of the jeep you get completely covered in that awful fine riverbed sand and we ended up without shirts over our faces and heads tucked into our chests trying to minimise our exposure. Fortunately they do have showers at the starting point, however I wasn't prepared for that and would have had to completely pull apart my very hastily packed bag to find clean clothes so I just did the wet one wash but Jake and Brad did shower and then of course bragged about it all the way back to Manila.

On the way back Grace was very accommodating with my questions about the Philippines and Luzon in general and for the two hour trip back to Manila we learnt a great deal about the Filipino culture, politics and lifestyle. Grace was an excellent guide and it was so great to meet someone that was happy to talk about her home and her people.


The Battle of the Tour Guides

Denwil our guide has asked us to be dropped to the Florida Bus Station on the northern side of Manila as he was going to pick us up from there but when I called him he asked for us to be dropped off somewhere else which was already behind us much to Graces chagrin.

I don't blame her as I had checked repeatedly as to where we should be taken and he had told me as late as that morning that the bus station would be fine. Grace was rope-able and immediately called him and made him give her an exact location and time. She was not impressed, not with us, with Denwil's lack of professionalism and when he finally turned up she gave him a real serve.

Not undeserved either. It was kind of funny actually watching her tear strips of him and him looking very chastised and not a little bit afraid.

That aside, into Denwil's van we got and off we went on our overnight drive to Banaue.

Jenny Marsden - Charge The Globe
About the author

Meet Jenny, a passionate Australian travel blogger who has explored 101 countries to date. With over 30 years of travel experience, Jenny has a wealth of knowledge to share with her readers about the cultures, landscapes, and people she has encountered on her journeys. She's always battling unfashionably frizzy hair and you will never catch Jenny in anything but comfortable shoes.