Mount Pinatubo is a popular attraction in the Philippines. Dormant for centuries, this historic site recorded only the second-largest terrestrial volcanic eruption of the 20th century. What made it most cataclysmic was right as Pinatubo was spewing 10 billion tons of ash and rocks, an incoming typhoon triggered lahar, a violent mudflow that swept the plains just 600 meters below the volcano.
The lahar sank entire villages and infrastructure in Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga, all agricultural provinces. The vulnerable indigenous Aetas were displaced and key ecosystems were disrupted beyond recovery. There would have been a catastrophic death toll if not for the vigilant monitoring and months-early evacuation plans by the PHIVOLCS and USGS.
Because it was obscured from view by a chain of mountains, Pinatubo previously did not have a proper representation in pictures. That is until the Manila Bulletin published Alberto Garcia's iconic photograph of a lonesome pick-up truck fleeing from the angry eruption, dwarfed by a doomsday cloud of volcanic ash.
This image brought forth to the public the shock and destruction of which Pinatubo is capable. It has been included in National Geographic's '100 Best Pictures' list and Time's 'Great Images of the 20th Century'.
The lake has since evolved into a nature park that concludes an adventure-filled trek from Capas, Tarlac. The base camp for such treks is Crow Valley, occasionally used by the Philippine army for training exercises.
Mount Pinatubo is located at Capaz, Tarlac. The best way to get to Mount Pinatubo is by renting a 4x4 vehicle at Sta. Juliana Tourism Center. Depending on the number of people on the group, you will then ride for an hour and then trek for two hours.
It is best to visit in summer when the riverbed is dry, specifically from the end of October to May.
In order to fully enjoy Mount Pinatubo, you have to pay for the 4x4 rental going there, as well as activities like volcanic ash massage and others surrounding the area.