Mt. Pinatubo in Zambales, Philippines: A Beautiful Crater Lake


Today, we are bringing another feature of a remote location that does not get the amount of coverage of most travel locations.  Having spent time in many great mountain locations such as Glacier National Park that everyone knows about, I was still impressed by the beauty of Mt. Pinatubo in Zambales, Philippines.  The image below from Marvin Martinez really shows off the beauty of Mt. Pinatubo with the turquoise waters, sheer mountain edges, green foregroudn and moody skies.

 Mt. Pinatubo

Mt. Pinatubo is located in Zambales, Philippines on the northern island of Luzon.  It is 87 km from Manila, the capital of the Philippines.  It is also located 37 km north of the U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay and 14 km west of the U.S. Clark Air Base.  According to Marvin, it requires an hour driving in a 4×4 followed by a 3 hour trek to reach the lake that has formed in the crater of Mt. Pinatubo.

Prior to 1991, Mt. Pinatubo was not the distinctive volcano it is today.  It the volcano was covered with dense forests inhabited by thousands of indigenous people.  In 1991; however, Mt. Pinatubo erupted, producing the second-largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century.  Unfortunately, the massive eruption of Mt. Pinatubo coincided with the arrival of Typhoon Yunya/Diding, causing massive destruction to the area.  The eruption obiterated the former summit of Mt. Pinatubo and left a 2.5 km wide caldera behind, which is now a beautiful crater lake.

Lake Pinatubo

Monsoon rains following the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo led to the creation of a crater lake.  A lava dome formed an island in the lake for a while, but it was eventually covered by the deepening water.  The lake was initially very acidic and hot, with a temperature around 40 C or 104 F.  Years of rainfall eventually neutralized the acidity and lowered the lake temperature to a comfortable 26 C or 79 F.

The lake continually deepened by about 1 meter per month until 1991, when fears the crater walls were growing unstable prompted the Philippine government to begin draining about a quarter of the lake.  Nevertheless, the west wall of the crater collapsed in 2002, freeing approximately 160 million cubic meters of water and sediments into the Maraunot River.

Today, the beautiful lake is a popular hiking location and tourist attraction, with people going through Barangay Santa Juliana in Caps, Tarlac to reach the lake.

Marvin Martinez

Marvin is a photographer based in the Philippines.  He made the above image back in 2008 using a Canon EOS 40D (current model is the 80D) with the 18-55 mm kit lens.  You can find more of his work on Flickr and Instagram.

And, don’t forget to join our Facebook group, Photography and Travel, to share tips, favorite locations and questions!

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