After the camping in Zambales a week ago, I found myself again comfortably on my seat onboard a Victory Liner bus going to Capas, Tarlac. That day, I witnessed on my own bare eyes the splendid crater of once a site of destruction, the Mount Pinatubo. The Byaheng Victory: Conquer Mount Pinatubo scheduled on that day has a total of 31 participants.
We left Victory Liner Cubao station at exactly 2:30AM. And after a 3-hour non-stop bus ride, we reached the Satellite Municipal Tourism Office of Capas in Brgy. Sta. Juliana. The trip also served as an unexpected meet up for Pinoy Travel Blogger members: Kat, Kaiye, and Marj. We waited for a couple of minutes with the Travel Factor coordinators securing all documents needed for the trek. Next, we found ourselves enjoying the ride with our designated 4×4 jeep and getting to know the members of our group. I joined Group 1 together with Marj and new found friends Vikki, Kat and Albert.
It was my first time to try the 4×4 ride on an off road path and it made me feel a bit anxious with what might happen. The result, I enjoyed the bumpy ride especially when it crosses the river. Cool was that the driver of the 4×4 sometimes do drifts and targets the terrain where he knows would result for a more exciting ride.
We stopped midway to the jump-off point to cool down the vehicle, an opportunity to take photos of the landscapes. The range we thought as mountains were clarified by our tour guide to be “lahar”. We continued the 4×4 ride and after an hour, we arrived at the jump-off point and started to trek the trail to the crater. The trek started okay with my energy still on its maximum, by the fact that I don’t have enough sleep since I went directly from work.
Kilometers after, I felt my energy went down a bit since I’m not toned to do trekking and it’s my first time to trek! For a first timer like me, the trek to Mount Pinatubo Crater is not that difficult since the trail is not so steep. You just need to be careful in leaping from a rock to another because you might slip off. A rest station is located one kilometer before the crater where cottages and restrooms are available. We rested for a while and continued the trek.
Our tour guide shared that the trek to the crater is now shorter compared to the previous years since the local government makes a way to clear up the path leading to the crater so the 4×4 can go closer. The usual 2.5-hour trek is now lowered down to about an hour. Since I noticed some kids in the area, I asked him how these kids go to school. He answered that, “On weekdays, these kids go to the town proper and a place is available for them to stay throughout the week.”
What’s funny here is that a sign categorizes your trek according to the number of minutes spent trekking for the kilometer left to the crater. We tried to monitor ours and we were surprised that it took us more than 20 minutes resulting to be tagged as “Senior Citizens.” Really? Some trekkers before us were already joking with their tour guide how really long is the 1-kilometer indicated. Then, we saw staircases (about 20 plus I think) which led us to the welcome sign. A sign of relief.
And so we reached the crater. It was windy and wearing my hoodie didn’t beat the cold weather. We sat down on the cobbled floor of the view deck and started to munch our food. Marj, who only brought a scarf with her, prayed hard for the sun to come out. But she failed. Since it was cloudy, we weren’t able to glimpse at the jade colored water of the crater.
We went down to have a closer look at the crater and continued to share stories and laugh hard with the breeze getting colder. I also tried to lie down on the sand. Since swimming is not allowed due to undetermined depths of the crater and boating is not also available, after a chit-chat or two, we decided to go back.
We were advised to leave the crater at noon. But before leaving, rain started to drizzle. I remember my visit to Bangui Windmills. We started our descent and after few steps, rain poured stronger. Albert offered a clean trash bag to be used as protection from the rain and the group tried to make fun out of it by trying to pose as beggars. Rain poured hard at some points of the trail. Until we reached the area where our 4×4 jeep parked. Exhausted, I slept during the ride going back to the tourism office. I was totally drenched when we arrived at the tourism office.
One of the adventures I wrote down on my travel list this year was to embark more trekking and having such an experience will definitely force me to find ways to work out my eager feet. Thanks to Byaheng Victory and Travel Factor for letting me experience this trip.
BYAHENG VICTORY: CONQUER MOUNT PINATUBO
This trip is sponsored by Byaheng Victory, a collaboration of Victory Liner, the Philippines’ premiere bus transportation company and Travel Factor, the leading adventure travel company in the Philippines. Visit their website and book the adventures that will kick off your 2013. You can also follow them on Twitter and like their Facebook page to be updated of their upcoming tours.