While driving towards Carmen, we get our first glimpses of Chocolate Hills on our right. When we follow the turn-off for the viewpoint of the Chocolate Hills, we learn that it is impossible to park at the top, and we have to leave our rental car in the village below. I decide to hike up the hill: the road runs around the conical hill, itself one of the Chocolate Hills. Where the road ends, it is possible to walk up red-yellow-green stairs to the viewpoint. On our way up, we stop at a small cave in which we find a statue of the Virgin of Lourdes. It is a curiosity on a hill that seems to be dedicated to the Chocolate Hills, and in fact, most people do not see it. When we reach the platform on top of the hill, we finally get a good view of the landscape that stretches out to the horizon.
We see conical or pyramidal-shaped hills in every direction: a landscape of rolling hills, all seemingly symmetrical. We do not count them, but there seem to be tens, hundreds of hills, all with identical shapes. Estimates claim that there are well over 1,000 hills. It is a unique view, not really spectacular or awesome, but mostly curious. We are at the end of the rainy season, and the hills are all covered in bright green grass. However, in the dry season, the grass turns brown, giving the hills a brown look, which explains the name. No, there are no cacao trees here. Under the carpet of green grass, there are limestone formations. Erosion caused by water and wind have shaped this landscape many centuries ago, and it has become the prime attraction of the island of Bohol.
Several legends offer a totally different, more romantic or fantastical explanation for these hills. According to one, a giant called Arogo fell in love with a Aloya, and upon her death, he cried for a long time. When finally he stopped crying, his tear drops solidified in the hills we see today. Those were really giant tear drops, then! Another, very different legend says that two giants were fighting, throwing rocks at each other, and after they turned into friends, they forgot to clean up the mess they made, and all the thrown rocks turned into the Chocolate Hills. When we are down at the end of the road again, the afternoon light underlines the beauty of the hills, with dark clouds hanging over the sea of hills, and we stay a little longer to enjoy the view of this famous Philippine landscape.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Chocolate Hills (Philippines). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Chocolate Hills. Read more about this site.