Trekking Mount Pinatubo: Philippine Travel Stories (Photo Gallery)

We did say that the Universe loves balance. Even a destructive event, like the 1991 eruption of a volcano that has remained quiet for 600 years, Mount Pinatubo, can be a source of beauty. The pyroclastic flow of Mt. Pinatubo buried many communities and the ash it spewed traveled halfway around the world, lowering world temperature by one degree fahrenheit.

Today, the crater left behind and the alien-looking landscape, is a source of stunning photographs. Let’s feature the VisitPinas-tagged Instagram photos.

There are two Mt. Pinatubo photos featured in Still Life: Philippine Travel Stories. One is from Arvel Panaligan (check his Instagram account, @arvelpanaligan, for more photos), here:

The other photo featured in Still Life: Philippine Travel Stories, showing the Mount Pinatubo crater, is from (check his Instagram account,, for more photos). We love the caption of this photo: “A beauty forged by disaster. All the agony and pains fades all that remains is beauty and happiness. Mt. Pinatubo Crater Lake.”

The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), is the second largest eruption in this century.

This is not what Encyclopedia Britannica says, “The ash and smoke cloud ejected by Mount Pinatubo in 1991 contained about twice as much matter as that thrown up by the El Chichón volcano (1982), making Pinatubo perhaps the largest eruption of the 20th century.”

Anyway, whether the Pinatubo eruption is the biggest or second biggest in this century, the fact remains that the eruption was powerful enough to blast a huge crater. In the post Majestic Mount Pinatubo: Photo of the Day, we featured this photo by Rai Sean (check his Instagram account, @rhyjoe, for more photos) of Sanggala Mountaineers.

Going back to what the USGS said: “The second-largest volcanic eruption of this century, and by far the largest eruption to affect a densely populated area, occurred at Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines on June 15, 1991. The eruption produced high-speed avalanches of hot ash and gas, giant mudflows, and a cloud of volcanic ash hundreds of miles across. The impacts of the eruption continue to this day.”

Before the 1991 eruption, Mount Pinatubo’s summit was 1,745 meters (5,725 feet) above sea level. Today, a trek towards the crater would look like this:

The photo above shows Duane Sandicho (check his Instagram account, @duane_the_wanderer, for more photos) going through the 7-kilometer trek to the crater of Mt. Pinatubo in Zambales, featured in 5 Traits of a Traveler: Philippine Travel Stories.

The marvelous landscape of Mt. Pinatubo, now dotted with green and other colors, was a bizarre solid gray in 1991. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Luzon was followed by a series of smaller earthquakes in Pinatubo, as magma pushed upwards.

On 11 June 1991, a few days before the main eruption of Pinatubo, on 15 June 1991, Typhoon Diding (International Name: Yunya) entered the Philippine area of responsibility, going from Samar towards the northern part of Luzon, where Pinatubo is located, leaving the country around June 17 June. The Pinatubo ash, mixed with the rain, drenched everyone and everything in ash gray. What was a scene of horrible disaster in 1991 is now a landscape of amazing beauty.

To be sure, the trek to the crater lake of Mt. Pinatubo isn’t a piece of cake. To some, it’s like a fun adventure, like in this photo by Danessa Soler (check her Instagram account, @danessasoler, for more photos).

Other trekkers, including Jhoanna Bauan (check her Instagram account, @jhoanna_bauan, for more photos), would make fun of cramps with the hashtag #LegCrampIsLife, still enjoying the entire experience, as we can see from the caption: “You are not weak for needing time to rest. You will catch up. Who doesn’t want to rest with this view.”

It’s indeed lovely in Pinatubo and more fun in the Philippines, says Poppy Gee (check his Instagram account, @poppy_gee_travels, for more photos), who makes it more alive with “Mabuhay! Welcome to Mount Pinatubo, Trekking Zone, Philippines!”

Coming face to face with the crater lake, one must have a million and one thoughts. Paul Labiste (check his Instagram account, @wander_paul, for more photos) has this to say, pensive at the crater lake:

“So much history on this magma chamber. Eruption, devastation, & nega effects on earthlings. But its beauty perpetuates. So maybe despite all the tremors, there’s still a reason why we still linger around this place. Maybe it makes us believe, or remind, that there are still great things in us even after we showed our flaws.”

On the other hand, we wonder what MishLish (check her Instagram account, @mishlish, for more photos) is thinking when she came face to face with the crater lake of Mount Pinatubo. Perhaps she’s wondering why the water is green. Perhaps she’s trying to decide if she wants to part the water in two, using her walking cane. Maybe she’s weighing whether it’s worth the trek or not. We don’t know; she didn’t include any caption in this photo:

Now, here’s a puzzle for us. If we go on a long trek, even a 7-kilometer trek like Mt. Pinatubo, we’d be a total mess by the time we get to the destination, all sweaty and catching our breath, probably swearing that we won’t do it again.

While we said that the Universe loves balance, it is, at times, unfair. If we’d be a total mess by the time we reach the Pinatubo crater lake, this lady, Dith Vitug (check her Instagram account, @dithvitug, for more photos), looks just as lovely as in her other photos.

“Philippines, you continue to amaze me,” she says in the caption of this photo:

We can say the same thing for you, our dear Dith.

We are going to update this post, so tag us with your Mt. Pinatubo photos.

[Photos reproduced with permission (thanks). Tag your Philippine travel photos with #visitpinas so we can track it down. Photos will be featured in this blog’s photo of the day and in instagram/VisitPinas, facebook/VisitPinas, twitter/VisitPinas.]

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