Bohol, Philippines — They call this area the Chocolate Hills, and while the name sounds like something out of Willie Wonka, it’s actually a collection of more than a thousand (1,247-1,776, depending on who’s count you go by) limestone haycock hills spread over 20 miles on the island of Bohol, Philippines. During the dry season, the green grass turns brown and looks like endless rows of Hershey Kisses, hence the name Chocolate Hills. I guess Muddy Hills just doesn’t have the same ring to it – or tourist draw.
The Chocolate Hills are cone-shaped or dome-shaped hills and are actually made of grass-covered limestone. The domes vary in sizes from 100-160 feet, with the largest ones going to nearly 400 feet. Trees grow on the base of the hills but the rest of them are bare, filled only with grass (which turns to dirt in the dry season).
The legend on how the Chocolate Hills formed is a bit more fun. There’s a romantic story of a giant named Arogo who was extremely powerful. 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. Full story of the legend can be found here. Read more...(303 words, 5 images, estimated 1:13 mins reading time)
Hiking through Bako National Park turned out to be an unexpected highlight of my trip. It’s a 10.5 square mile island with rainforests, secluded beaches with sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, jungle streams, and lots of wildlife (including about 150 of the aforementioned rare proboscis monkeys).
The coast line was beautiful – millions of years of erosion of the sandstone have created a coastline of steep cliffs with brilliant colored patterns formed by iron deposition.
Monkeys were everywhere – mostly Long-tailed macaques and silver leaf monkeys. And of course the highlight was seeing rare probiscos monkeys . We also saw lizards and bearded pigs.
Bako National Park also has nearly every type of vegetation found in Borneo (25 distinct types). In a couple of days of trekking through the jungle trails, you can see “Beach vegetation, Cliff vegetation, Kerangas or heath Forest, Mangrove Forest, Mixed Dipterocarp Forest, Padang or Grasslands Vegetation and Peat Swamp Forest,” according to the official site.
Consider this a sneak preview of the sunsets I saw in Borneo – the ones in the next few posts were even better! Read more...(182 words, 6 images, estimated 44 secs reading time)
It features a varied desert landscape consisting of a range of narrow gorges, natural arches, towering cliffs, ramps, massive landslides and caverns. Petroglyphs, inscriptions and archaeological remains in the site testify to 12,000 years of human occupation and interaction with the natural environment. The combination of 25,000 rock carvings with 20,000 inscriptions trace the evolution of human thought and the early development of the alphabet. The site illustrates the evolution of pastoral, agricultural and urban activity in the region.
Read more...(298 words, 7 images, estimated 1:12 mins reading time)
This post is from my day hiking up a volcano, where we discovered sulfur mining at Kawah Ijen volcano. It’s is the site of a labor intensive sulfur mining operation in Kawah Ijen volcano and acid crater lake, in eastern Java, Indonesia. Miners extract the sulfur and carry it 8,660 feet up and down the mountain.
Sulfur Mining photos from our Kawah Ijen volcano adventure are below.
More great photography on Kawah Ijen that were posted on the Boston Globe website. You can also find more photography of the sulfur mines at Ijen here, here, and here.
Kawah Ijen – I don’t recommend eating sulfur deposits
My favorite photos of Kawah Ijen come from the Boston Globe’s photography section, The Big Picture, which has been getting much better recently. I’ll track down the direct photo.