Getting up at 6am wasn’t easy after another big night on the San Miguels, but it was worth it. Jonah and I had a private tour of Mount Pinatabu to look forward to. We were picked up in a van, where we slept until we were transferred to a 4×4 jeep. Our jeep had seen better days. A beaten-up, rattling shell of its former glories, I sensed this trip could be its last. The gears crunched painfully, the water occasionally mixed with the fuel, the suspension was hardly noticeable. And so we began a painful ride across the lava wastelands, which are cut through by the Abacan and Pasig-Potrero rivers, though ‘streams’ would be a more accurate description. The lava wastelands look quite stunning, and there are towers, columns and hanging pinnacles of lahar (volcanic mud) everywhere.
An hour or so later, after traversing near-vertical summits and descents, which tested the jeeps ability to its max, we arrived at the hiking point. From here, our guide led us through beautiful tropical jungle, full of huge ferns and palms, past waterfalls and over streams, like somewhere from the dinosaur era. It was a brisk 30-minute walk to the crater lake, and suddenly we were upon it. Mount Pinatabu erupted in 1991, blowing 300m off its top. What it has left is an amazing crater lake, a vivid turquoise colour, which was what I was now looking at. It was a beautiful, awe-inspiring sight. The volcano loomed all around, and landslides were apparent in some places. A couple of white tourists were swimming in it, a somewhat dangerous activity given the lakes undetermined depth. Jonah and I took a boat out across the lake and back again. It was fantastic. The sun was shining, which made the colour of the lake all the more vibrant and almost surreal in its beauty. This was worth it. Worth the trip alone. Worth the enforced stay in Angeles. I was grateful to have come. A full day out, fresh air in the lungs. Great stuff.