Thursday, March 15, 2012

Off-road adventure in Pampanga

Find this ironic that something destructive can give birth to splendor. Apart from Anawangin Cove and the Crater Lake which was redesigned by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the 1990's, Puning Hot Spring is another impressive outcome of its madness.

4x4 jeep swayed past a wide expanse of desert-like sands with lava rocks, canyons, hanging valley, and Aeta villages. En route to Sitio Puning in Porac, Pampanga from the base camp in Sitio Target in Sapang Bato, we found ourselves driving through scenic valleys with towering pinnacles of lahar and boulders of rocks as backdrop. We followed a trail that passed through a series of streams, motley of rocks and gorges. We were swept away by the sparse vegetation and hanging valleys after finally arriving at the base camp where the indulging thermal spring is located.

Puning Hot Spring has been developed for the convenience of tourists. Cemented pathways lead tourists into the hot spring pools where they can take a relaxing dip. Cottages have been built, as well as washrooms. Since the Pinatubo area is inhabited by the indigenous Aeta people, almost all of the employees at Puning Hot Spring are Aetas.

After indulging in the thermal springs coming from Mt. Pinatubo, we were led to another base camp for a peculiar spa experience. We were asked to lie down as our bodies were covered by volcanic sand. You could really feel the warm volcanic ash relaxing my buried body.

To cap off our spa experience, we were treated to a mudpack. Sulfur mud was applied all over my face, hands and legs which I allowed to harden for a couple of minutes. It was refreshingly cool and my skin felt rejuvenated after washing up. Indeed, the whole Puning Hot Spring experience; from the 4x4 adventure ride, to bathing in the thermal spring, and finally being pampered by the spa's attentive professionals is a remarkable treat for tourists.

There are three ways to get to Puning Hot Spring:

1. Avail the package tour for Php 3,000 per pax which is inclusive of 4×4 jeep ride, buffet meal, entrance fee to the hot spring, sand steam, massage and mudpack at Sitio Target, Sapang Bato Angeles City, Pampanga

2. Hire a 4x4 jeep for about Php 1,500

3. Trekking from Sitio Target which may take roughly 1 hour.

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