Another activity that I failed to do, but crave to experience when I return is the mud pool treatment. For P500/person, you'll get to apply volcanic mud all over your body, then wait for it to soften and "stretch" the skin. The treatment promises to make you look younger.
Note: You can use the Mud Pool for free if you availed of both Massage and volcanic ash treatment.
This is one activity that I failed to avail of at the PDC Pinatubo Spa because our group had to leave early. Definitely a must-do when I return.
At P500/person, tired tourists will experience being buried in hot volcanic ash for 30 minutes. This is supposed to relax your tired body while it lessens body cholesterol. A friend who experienced this swears that you'll feel refreshed after the treatment.
You can make arrangements with your 4x4 jeep driver to stop at a safe place so you can take some pictures. Our group had the photo shoot at a place just before the skyway where the sight of lahar and pyroclasmic canyons, mountains and streambeds were simply awesome.
After being "battered" by the rough 4x4 jeep ride to and from Mt. Pinatubo, what can be more welcome than a massage at the spa?
The “Pina-thai-tsu” is a unique combination of traditional Thai and Shiatsu massage, with a few local massage techniques (hilot). This massage, taking about 1 hour + 20 minutes effectively improves blood circulation and soothes tired muscles and joints.
Cost : P 500 / person
There's more to Crow Valley than the vast lahar streambed where 4x4 jeeps take you to Mt. Pinatubo.
Located at Camp O'Donnell, the Crow Valley was actually the main Bombing and Gunnery Range of the United States Armed Forces in the western Pacific. This 42-mile facility located about 14 miles from the former Clark Air Base was primarily used for aerial combat training, including bombing practice. The facility had an airfield and sophisticated electronic warfare installations like advanced radar and radar jamming equipment, as well as a Russian surface-to-air missile installation.
Today, the facility is being used for practice by the Philippine Air Force. But with a Memorandum of Agreement between the Tourism Office and the Philippine Airforce, the 40-member contingent of the 600th Air Base Satellite Wing of the PAF detailed at Crow Valley (the officially recommended tourist route to the crater lake) are tasked with ensuring the security and safety of tourists traversing the 30-km streambed. Movements at the Crow Valley are closely monitored. The recommended route to the crater is a 4x4 jeep ride from Brgy. Santa Juliana, passing through Crow Valley up to Sitio Dapili. From there, tourists get off the jeep and begin their travel by foot into Botolan, Zambales.
For Pinatubo Trekkers:
Travel across the hardened lahar and O'Donnell Riverbed will take your 4-wheel drive jeep approximately 1 1/2 hours. Only the front seat has a seatbelt, so those seating at the back will have to brace themselves for the fast, long, bumpy ride.
Before your jeep crosses Crow Valley, secure your hair with scarf/bonnet/safari hat or any hat with strings to keep it on your head. Wear your sunglasses before the ride, as it will be too difficult to get it from your bag during the rough ride. Wear a long scarf that you can use to cover your face so you don't inhale the fine volcanic dust particulates. Never mind if you look like a "terrorist" with your shades and scarf-covered face.
Prepare your camera, carefully protecting it from dust while not in use. I took my camera out from my bag before the trip so I can have it ready for interesting subjects/happenings (which are so many, it's a pity if you can't capture those moments), but covered it with my scarf while not in use. Oh, and apply sunblock on exposed areas before your departure.
For Pinatubo Trekkers:
First step to your Pinatubo tour is to register and pay fees (for environment conservation, access to Crow Valley, skyway toll, tour guide and 4-wheel drive jeep) at the PDC (Pinatubo Development Corporation) Spa Town, the jump off point for trips to the crater and lahar areas. This is also where you have to make arrangements and pay additional fees for boating and camping at the crater lake shore.
When you have paid all the fees, you will be assigned to a 4WD jeep and tour guide. Tourists are all required to hike up to the crater only when escorted by an accredited local trail guide.
Next stop is at the barangay checkpoint where your driver is given clearance and a hand-held radio, then another stop at the Air Force check point to get security pass and the requisite clearance before you can enter Crow Valley. If you intend to camp at the crater lake shore, you'll pay additional P1,000 for a security personnel to go with you.
For Pinatubo Trekkers:
Coax you bladder to empty itself at the PDC Spa Town before you ride the 4WD jeep. The rough terrain, plus the excitement will surely make you want to answer nature's call, but you can't ask the driver to stop anywhere just because you have to pee. There are restrooms at the end of the skyway; be sure to go there before your trek. There are portalets just before you reach the crater lake; just what you need after the trek. There are no restrooms in the Crater Lake Park yet, so be sure to use the portalet no matter how it looks (see picture).
For Pinatubo Trekkers:
If you brought your own vehicle, you cannot just leave it on the narrow street infront of Pinatubo Spa Town. Park you car in the designated parking area. I saw two vacant lots across the Spa being used as parking area. I suggest you leave your clothes (for changing after the trek) in your vehicle. Remember to double check if you've locked all your doors and windows.
As a a memorial to the Filipino and American soldiers who died in Camp O'Donnell at the end of the Bataan Death March, the Capas National Shrine was set up in a sprawling 54-hectare parkland. The rows of trees you see around some 35 hectares were planted not just for landscape purposes, but to represent each of the martyr soldiers.
As centerpiece of the parkland, a towering 70-meter obelisk stands above what was once the concentration camp. Surrounding the obelisk tower is a black marble wall with engraved names of the Filipino and American soldiers known to have died.
Nearby is a small museum and a smaller monument built by the Battling Bastards of Bataan honoring the American dead at Camp O'Donnell.
On display near the rows of trees is the only remaining train car box where the Japanese Forces squeezed inside the prisoners of war. Many trains like this took the POWs to the Capas Railway in Brgy. Sto. Domingo, and from there, they were forced to walk six kilometers more before reaching the concentration site at Camp O'Donnel, the current site of the Capas National Shrine.
Choose between 2 hours trek or 45 minutes of trekking though the 45 minutes trek you have to pay an additional price for it.