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Chocolate Hills of Carmen Bohol Philippines

 

chocolate hillsThe Chocolate Hills are a famous tourist attraction of Bohol Philippines. They are in the Philippine Tourism Authority’s list of tourist destinations in the Philippines. They have been declared the country’s third National Geological Monument and proposed for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The Chocolate Hills (Filipino: Tsokolateng Burol) are a geological formation located in the Town of Carmen Bohol Philippines. There are at least 1,260 hills but there may be as many as 1,776 hills spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometers (20 sq mi). The hills get their name from the lawn like vegetation that roasts to chocolate brown in the driest months (February to July).

Straddling three municipalities, the largest and most visited concentration is 4km south of Carmen, the Chocolate Hills location main viewpoint. From the base of the viewpoint, motorcycles can whisk you up the hill (P40 one way for two passengers), where the views are compromised by kiosks selling kitschy souvenirs. Of course, you can also walk up the hill (20 to 30 minutes).

The same habal-habal drivers will take you on a thrilling motorcycle tour (half-/one hour P250/350) along winding roads to the main viewing sites, as well as to lesser-known spots, such as the Eight Sisters Hillocks. Fun ATV and buggy tours are also available near the base of the viewpoint.

Legend of Chocolate Hills

The first tells the story of two feuding giants who hurled rocks, boulders, and sand at each other. The fighting lasted for days, and exhausted the two giants. In their exhaustion, they forgot about their feud and became friends, but when they left they forgot to clean up the mess they had made during their battle, hence the Chocolate Hills.

For the more romantically inclined is the tale of Arogo, a young and very strong giant who fell in love with an ordinary mortal girl called Aloya. After she died, the giant Arogo cried bitterly. His tears then turned into hills, as a lasting proof of his grief.

However, up to this day, even geologists have not reached consensus on how they where formed. The most commonly accept theory is that they are the weathered formations of a kind of marine limestone on top of a impermeable layer of clay. If you climb the 214 steps to the top of the observation hill near the complex, you can read this explanation on a bronze plaque.

How to get there

Plenty of tourist guides and tour operators will be happy to bring you to the chocolate hills, either as a separate trip or as part of a day tour. However, if you want to go here on your own, from Tagbilaran, you will have to go the integrated bus terminal in Dao and catch a bus going to Carmen. If you look like a stranger, you will have a hard time not finding one.

At the entrance of the bus terminal people will point you to the right bus. Make sure it is the first one to leave, and ask the driver to drop you off at the Chocolate Hills complex, about 4 kilometers before the town of Carmen. From there it is a 10 minute walk along a road winding up to the complex.

To get back to Tagbilaran, you will have to walk back to the main road, and wait for a bus to pass by. The last bus from Carmen to Tagbilaran leaves at four P.M. Alternatively, you can use the services of the motorcyclists who often wait here for tourist, and ride ‘habal-habal,’or motorbike taxi.

If you’re coming from Tubigon (arriving from Cebu by boat), a few buses go to Carmen daily, but sometimes you’ll have to wait for some time for the bus to fill up. When you arrive in Carmen, you can catch the next bus or jeepney in the direction of Bilar, Loay or Tagbilaran, or ask a ‘habal-habal’ driver to bring you to the Chocolate Hills Complex.

 

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