When Lee and I were planning our route through Asia all I had to do was mention ‘Chocolate Hills’ and Lee was on board. It was a few months later that I had to break the news to him that Bohol’s Chocolate Hills aren’t actually made of chocolate. But don’t worry too much because I cushioned the blow by telling him we could see these incredible creatures.
This Yoda looking creature is a Tarsier and it is native to the Philippines. Bohol has many places to view them but only one place is known as a sanctuary that looks after them the way they should be cared for so we knew exactly where to head.
We hopped on a boat in Boracay and after two planes with a mini stop in Manila in-between we were soon on Bohol and heading to the tiny island attached to it called Panglao. We hadn’t heard anything good about the beaches but since we had a few days in Bohol we thought we’d go and have a look anyway. We weren’t disappointed. The island was so interesting and animal’s definitely ruled the roost. Everywhere you looked there were cows, goats, roosters, piglets and so many puppies. We loved it. The houses were small and hand built. People were friendly with kids running up to us just to say hello. There were motorised tricycles stopping every few yards asking if we wanted lifts into town but nowhere near the amount we were harassed in Boracay.
We stayed in a great hotel called Hope Homes. It was about a twenty minute walk from Alona beach and only took cash but the people were friendly, there were lots of puppies and the rooms were big and clean.
Once we were settled in we headed to the beach. We hadn’t expected anything but Alona beach was lovely. Not very deep until the end of the beach but beautiful. I’d also recommend Bohol peanut kisses ice cream. I’m drooling just thinking about it.
The rest of our time on the island was allocated to hills and tarsiers so we set about finding the best way to view them. At this point I need to send you to this incredibly smart and funny blog post over at Globetrotter Girls that details how to get around Bohol better than I ever could. We were completely set on following these instructions to the letter that was until poor Lee had food poisoning. We still aren’t 100% sure what caused it but we are almost sure it was from a Filipino beef dish Lee ate that evening. The poor man was stuck in bed for 12 hours. Luckily we had thought ahead and bought lots of Imodium and paracetamol on the trip. I don’t know what we would have done without them because we were miles from a hospital. It took about 12 hours to feel human again which left us one last day to see the wonders Bohol had to offer. We ended up taking the hotels car to both the Tarsiers and the hills for a total cost of 2000 pesos since I didn’t want Lee bumping around on Bohol roads.
The Tarsier sanctuary you need to go to if you want to see them treated well is the Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella. You pay 50 pesos for a ticket and then drive up to the sanctuary. The floors inside are muddy so if its rained recently it would be a good idea to wear shoes instead of flip flops. The guide took us around the area asking us to be as quiet as possible. She answered all our questions and more about these incredible creatures. She also warned us that we may not see many tarsiers today. I know this sounds weird but this made me so happy because it meant the sanctuary was caring for them, letting them wander free and not doing this just for tourists. As it was we were very very lucky and saw three. Their huge sleepy eyes and tiny hands melted our hearts.
Facts about Tarsiers:
.They can live up to 30 years in the wild but live an average of 6 months in captivity. The ones in the Corella sanctuary that we saw were 10 and 20. One was about to give birth which is also un-heard of if they aren’t happy in their environment.
.The girls are lighter in Colour.
.They only have one baby at a time.
.They jump from tree to tree and have a extremely long tail to help them fly
.They eat insects
.They are very territorial and need a ache of space each. The baby will only be with the mother 6 months after its born then it must find it’s own space.
.Each of their eyes is heavier than their brain. They have the largest eye size (compared to their body) of all mammals.
There are also so many more that you can read here
We were both on a high when we left. It was only a 20minute tour if that to stop the animals being too disturbed but it was thrilling. Our next stop was those mysteries Chocolate Hills. It took us about two hours to get to the hills and once we arrived we decided to get the full experience and have a tour guide show us around the hills. We rode on a ATV while following the guide on a bike. It was 900 pesos which is expensive on our budget but we did travel a long way just to see the hills so wanted a little more than just the viewing platform. We didn’t regret http://smallandtalltravel.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpthe decision. It was thrilling riding around the hills and local area, waving at kids that ran along the road to greet us and seeing chickens crossing the road in front of is (the irony of this never got old in Bohol, no matter how many times I saw it)
After our ride we paid the 50 pesos and headed to the top. It is a steep staircase and some older people were struggling with the walk so if you aren’t use to walking up hills make sure you take your time and some water. Lee and I aren’t exactly fitness fans and we still did ok. It isn’t a long walk and only takes a few minutes of stairs to get to the top.
At the top you could see the majestic hills as far as the eyes could see. We poses for photos and were in awe at the damaged surrounding the hills caused by an earthquake two years earlier. It was terrifying to see the power of nature but humbling to also see the beauty it creates. There are lots of myths and legends surrounding the hills such as:
“a giant named Arogo who was extremely powerful and youthful lived in Bohol. Arogo fell in love with Aloya, who was a simple mortal. Aloya’s death caused Arogo much pain and misery, and in his sorrow he could not stop crying. When his tears dried, the Chocolate Hills were formed.”
Really they are made of limestone and sit on a hard clay base. Many fossils of coral and small marine animals have been discovered within them leading scientists to believe they were once under water. They are named the chocolate hills because in the summer the grass disappears to reveal the brown mud. Whatever the origin, they were great to see and worth the trip for us.
Overall we loved Bohol, despite the food poisoning, it was beautiful, humble, friendly and interesting. I can see it becoming more and more touristy though which is a shame. I hope it can hold onto its charm for as long as possible.