Ok, so last Saturday, I joined The Travel Factor’s Akyat 08: Pinatubo Fun Climb (‘Fun climb’ was a total misnomer here, believe me. Whoever thought of including that in the title should re-live the trek). I have to be clear on this, the trek is NOT for everyone. If you care too much for your feet or you freak out every time you don’t like what you see in the mirror, then save yourself from a lot of trouble by signing instead for a Boracay or Palawan trip. Anyway, the entire experience was a blast! There are several highlights of the trip and I’m gonna try document them here.
The 4 x 4 rodeo. The entire trip is divided into 3 parts: private bus from Manila to Brgy. Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac, a 4 X 4 ride to the trekking drop-off point and the trek itself. The 4 X 4 wheeler ride was the first highlight. It’s my first time to do this and I haven’t tried an Africa Safari, but all of my senses tell me that the experience is somehow identical (or at least the first 20 minutes of it). The ride will start on a vast flatland where there’s nothing but grasses. Feel free to use your imagination by switching cows with tigers and water buffalos with gazelles (you can use your own convention, I don’t mind) and it will feel more like a real Safari, I think. This will go on for like 20 minutes so enjoy the ride and ready your camera. Camera with faster shutter would excellent for this situation. If you have a DSLR or any powerful camera, be careful with your grip, the ride is really bumpy so the extra weight on your camera makes it harder to focus. Point and shoot FTW!
After that, you’ll start seeing Lahar formations and some of them are really amazing. I asked our driver if they have a name for these formations and he said nothing. So I’ll play Christopher Columbus here and give names to some of the few interesting formations we’ve seen. The first one, I’ll call it ‘The Cathedral’ because it really looks like a big, old church.
The next one is my favorite, I’ll call them ‘Pyramid’ because they’re bunch of triangular-shaped formation sitting right next with each other. They look like chocolate hills in Bohol only they have pointed peaks. And mostly, they’re made of Lahar.
The last one would be ‘The Stronghold’. It looks like (geeky reference coming up) the Black Gate of Mordor. I don’t know how the heck did I relate that to LOTR, maybe that’s just how it struck me. There are so many interesting formations you’ll find along the way. Again, like me, use your imagination, it’ll make the experience more fun.
After this, would be the least fun of the trip: a grueling 3-hour walk to the crater. It will be one of the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your life. There will be point that you’d wish you never went or just go back but believe me, it’s totally worth it. I am saying not this not to scare you (well, maybe a little, hehe) but to give you a heads up of you’ll experience. Bring enough water but not too much because you’ll gonna have to carry that up to the crater.
The crater. Assuming that you made the 3-hour ordeal, imagine what’s state you are in after it. Tired, hungry and cranky. You feel that nothing could cheer you up on that moment but food, soft bed and a Swedish by <Name of your dream girl here>. But when you finally see crater, there’s nothing more perfect to say but ‘It’s totally worth it‘. The view is just simply amazing. The water is blue, everything around it is lush.. everything is mind-numbingly beautiful! We were screaming like crazy the first time we laid eyes on the crater.
You are allowed to swim on the lake, which I encourage you to do so. From the view deck, you’ll have to climb down a 121-step stair so be careful, it’s really steep.
The people. It’s great that I belong in a very nice group, Group 4! Wuhuu! Seriously, they are bunch of great people. We are 12 in the group, 11 boys and 1 girl (Shiela, our leader / fitness instructor / guide). Everyone is very willing to participate and share jokes. We were laughing all the time. The chemistry was really good that we can pick up on each other’s joke.
I noticed that some participants create a faction and separate themselves from the main group. That’s a real bummer if I was one of them. One of my objectives on the trip was to meet new people.
I’d give this trip a whopping 8 stars. Thanks Travel Factor, I’ll see you on the next trip!
Update: Here are more pictures from one of my group mate, Charles.
Update: Here are my pictures on the trip. Enjoy!