There’s always something that one associates with a more famous place. Take Bohol, for instance. What immediately comes to mind when you’re asked to name something that reminds you of Bohol? Tarsier. Blood compact. Loboc River or Loboc children’s choir, perhaps. I bet you’d remember, on top of the list, the Chocolate Hills.
The 1,776 conical hills are green during the rainy season but during summer, when rainwater is less bountiful, the vegetation growing on the hills turns brown and the underlying soil is exposed.
Most of the conical hills that comprise the Chocolate Hills are found in the Bohol towns of Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan, although the entire formation stretch all the way to the towns of Bilar, Sierra Bullones and Valencia. It takes around 1 hour to go to the Chocolate Hills from Panglao or Tagbilaran City (map and directions). That’s straight driving. But you don’t do that on a Bohol tour because other tourist attractions are littered along the way — Baclayon Church, Loboc River, Hanging Bridge, the Tarsiers, just to name a few.
The observation post, perched on top of one hill and with a 360-degree view of the surrounding hills, is known as the Chocolate Hills Complex and found in the town of Carmen. Get your knees ready for a 214-step climb all the way to the top of the viewing hill. This is not for the weak of heart, literally speaking, although the developers of the complex must have thought of those who are less fit, having constructed a number of circular resting stations along the climb. A longer, less steep route is also available.
The Chocolate Hills comprise one of the three National Geological Monuments of the Philippines, with the declaration made by the National Committee on Geological Sciences on June 18, 1988. The entire formation is also being proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Again, remember that unless you’ve been to the Chocolate Hills, you haven’t seen Bohol. Enjoy the view!