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Loay Interior Road, Carmen, Bohol, Philippines

GPS: 9.7990715042036, 124.16745973365

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The Chocolate Hills are the flagship attraction of the Visayas. This natural site is located in the centre of Bohol, the tenth largest island of the Philippines. These geological formations vary in size (between 30 and 50 metres in height) and are distinguished by their homogenous silhouette in the shape of a cone or dome. Covered with grass, the Chocolate Hills are thought to have been formed around 2 million years ago thanks to the accumulation of several layers of coral and shells. The latter were brought by an ancient sea which gradually receded due to the effect of tectonic plates. A long process of erosion has ended up shaping this unique landscape in the world.

Green during the rainy season (from June to November), the vegetation of the Chocolate Hills turns brown at the end of the dry season (from March to May). This visual particularity naturally gave its name to the famous Chocolate Hills. According to the lowest estimates, there are more than 1,200 atypical hills and bumps, which are spread over about 50 km² of hilly terrain. The geological monuments of the Chocolate Hills are spread across six towns of Bohol (mostly in Sagbayan, Batuan and Carmen). High platforms, accessible by stairs, provide a 360-degree view of sunrise or sunset. When the weather permits, it is sometimes possible to see in the distance the Cebu Strait separating the island provinces of Cebu and Bohol.

Both massive and compact, the Chocolate Hills are karstic hills resembling huge truffles, mounds, molehills or giant anthills. Damaged by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in 2013, these natural wonders are now threatened by quarrying activities. When you visit the site, you will probably have the opportunity to get to know tarsiers, a tiny animal found only on the islands of Southeast Asia. This nocturnal mammal, recognizable by its exorbitant eyes, shares several characteristics with monkeys. Along with Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur (a lemur endemic to the island of Madagascar), the tarsier represents one of the smallest primate species in the world.

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  • The singular beauty of the landscape; the rounded shape of the Chocolate Hills straight out of the jungle
  • The almost perfect symmetry of the hundreds of Chocolate Hills
  • The exceptional topography and geology of the area
  • The panorama from the observation platforms of Chocolate Hills Complex (Carmen) and Sagbayan Peak (Sagbayan); the sublimity of a sunrise on site
  • The population of bullet-eyed tarsiers visible within the Loboc Tarsier Conservation Area or in the Corella locality
  • Boat or raft trips on the Loboc River
  • Rice fields and mahogany forests (the latter to combat landslides caused by monsoon rains)
  • Winding roads and the bamboo suspension bridge; walking or cycling tours; the discovery of small isolated villages in the centre of the island
  • The Chocolate Hills Adventure Park (CHAP) and Danao Adventure Park nearby; the white sandy beaches and numerous diving opportunities on the archipelago
  • According to a recent accurate count, there are 1,268 chocolate hills in Bohol (other figures put the total at 1,776).
  • The origins of the formation of these hills remain unclear and unexplained by science: the most common theory suggests that polished coral deposits were uplifted over the centuries by water and wind erosion. Another hypothesis suggests ancient volcanic activity. In all cases, a creation emanating from the hands of Man is unanimously rejected by scientists.
  • The lack of an official explanation, however, has given rise to many local legends involving the giants who formed the Chocolate Hills. For example, it was an unfortunate giant whose tears, after drying, would have sculpted the hills. Another legend evokes a terrible fight between two giants, whose battle is said to have created this rugged terrain.
  • Since 2019, a law has been in force to protect the Chocolate Hills, which are considered a national heritage property. It aims to fight against the destruction, looting and degradation of these geological wonders. The extraction or transport of limestone, rock, earth and materials from the Chocolate Hills is now prohibited, under penalty of a fine and imprisonment.
  • The tarsiers are among the last prosimian species on the planet, along with the galagos and the lemurs present in Madagascar (they are animals that predate monkeys in the evolutionary chain). The tarsiers represent a prey for snakes, birds and lizards. This tiny monogamous animal, as big as the palm of a hand, communicates by ultrasound. It sometimes behaves suicidally if it feels threatened or stressed (by banging its head violently or voluntarily blocking its breathing) and tourism encourages its anxiety.
  • The best time to travel to the Philippines is between December and May, outside the typhoon season.
  • The Bohol archipelago, the 10th largest island in the Philippines, has a new airport since 2018. It is located on the neighbouring island of Panglao (Bohol-Panglao International Airport) and is connected to the mainland of Bohol by road. The archipelago is also accessible by sea with daily connections from the island of Cebu (2 hours by boat).
  • Excursions to the Chocolate Hills are often organized from Alona Beach (Panglao Island by boat up the Loboc River) or by road from the towns of Tagbilaran (south) and Tubigon (north). You can also get there on your own by renting a motorbike or by using the services of a local bus, a two or three-wheeled passenger cart (rickshaw) or a motorcycle taxi (habal-habal).
  • It is forbidden to attempt to climb the Chocolate Hills at the risk of being severely reprimanded by the local authorities.
  • If you see a tarsier, do not get too close. Just talking out loud or taking a picture with a flash can quickly make them anxious to end their day.

Where to eat

  • Garden Cafe
    (enriching experience)
  • Coco Loco Cafe
    (very good burgers)
  • Casa Amihan
    (magnificent setting)

Where to go out

  • Philippine Tarsier Foundation
    (endangered primate)
  • SUP Tours Philippines
    (paddle roaming)
  • Can-umantad Falls
    (for adventurers)

Where to sleep

  • Nuts Huts Resort
    (exotic and atypical)
  • Fox & The Firefly Cottages
    (active stay)
  • Amun Ini Beach Resort & Spa
    (little corner of paradise)

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