Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, rose his mighty arms on June 5 1991, causing the largest volcanic eruption in the last 100 years. Mt Pinatubo, a modest 5000 ft mountain burst into flames and air smoldering gasses. The explosion was like an atomic bomb felt by the entire area. The pyrochroite flow of scorching lava and gas carved paths of total destruction to the near by sea. Shiva has spoken!

The devastating gashes in the countryside are evident today, creating a moon scape scar, some places a kilometer wide. forever changing the landscape and the culture of the area for many miles. As is common with the violent acts of Shiva, a rebirth and change occurred. Today the area is a popular tourist destination and playground.

It is with reverence to Shiva and Mother Nature that the Calvert’s set on our next big adventure, to the top of Mt Pinatubo!. Planning is complicated as this is a strictly regulated area and event. The first hurdle was procuring my entrance permit.  Foreigners are not allowed in the military area without pre registering, then a fifteen day wait for a two day permit. I sent my passport copy to the organizer and received my permit dates. With permit in hand we stopped at the military check point. The pleasant but strict machine gun toting guard examined our paper work, then asked us to wait for clearance. About ten minutes later he came to the car, asked us to get out. I got nervous at this point but really all he wanted was to take our picture. We posed in front of the Jimny, smiled and off we went.

All our arrangements and permits were procured by our host, Allen at the Casa Hermogenes lodging located at the base camp area. He worked hard to accommodate our strange requests. Funny thing, we discovered there are two lodgings, both owned by brothers, Allen and Alvin, a bit confusing but made for a good laugh.  Once we got the brothers sorted we were shown to our very nice room, ordered our breakfast and to bed as we a had a early wake up. At the crack of dawn, 5 am, a knock at the door and our scrumptious breakfast was served.

just had to drive our Jimny,

The common route is to ride up the 1.5 hour bumpy path on a 4×4 local rig with a tour guide, this is required.  The idea of missing this great opportunity to flex the Jimny’s muscles was unacceptable, so we arranged to follow the caravan and guide.

Our guide and the escort jeep lead us to the start, where a scene from Mad Max was taking place; fifty bizarrely restored and modified 4×4 rigs, packed with people all blasting through the white impermeable dust!

a harsh reminder of the terrain.

Our guide know a path less taken and we split from the pack with only a few other rigs. We roared up the gash, white dust flowing to our right side as we had a steady cross wind, the effect was exotic. We splashed and barreled across one stream after another, testing the metal of our beloved Jimny. At the halfway point all the rigs gathered for photo ops. Dozens of young Filipinas posed for pictures as did our crew.

mid way photo ops

The second half of the 90-minute ride was rougher and more challenging with deeper water crossings and narrow passages through pinnacle rock formations, more fun! Once at the parking area we all headed up the trail to the crater falling in line with the hordes of hikers. This rocky path goes up for about forty five minutes over crystal clear creeks and jungle settings. Locals have set up vending tents along the way. Once we reached the summit the spectacular view of the crater lake came into view. The magnitude of the eruption was evident. Where once there was a mountain top now just a big, beautiful crater and glimmering lake. The experience was awesome and intimidating all at once.

up the trail we go!

This is a bit of a spendy adventure, our costs were:

4500pp for the jeep

500 pp for the guide

900pp per pax park fee

1000pp for personal car entrance,

For a total for us: 9600pp about $200usd,

This seems fair as most of it goes to the local economy which was devastated by the eruption. It also makes it a one time thing for us. We have yearned for this adventure for a few years, now the box is checked and the Calvert’s await their next adventure!


  1. Such an amazing adventure!! Thanks for sharing it! Sure is great that you are having the best time of your life! Such a great family and great country. Thanks for posting so many of your experiences and your family with us.

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