Tag Archives: Hiking

Chocolate Hills?

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.

Bohol Chocolate Hills - Philippines
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).

Bohol Chocolate Hills - Philippines

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.

Rainforests, wildlife, waterfalls, sandstone cliffs, & beaches in Borneo’s Bako

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!

Wadi Rum’s breathtaking views

Beautiful Wadi Rum desert in Jordan

We went hiking and camping in the desert of Wadi Rum in Jordan – I never thought a desert could be beautiful until visiting Wadi Rum. Here’s a small sampling of the breathtaking views and scenery:

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum is a desert valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock in southern Jordan, in the Middle East.

The view of the sunset, and the sunrise the next morning was incredible, one of the best I’ve ever seen. The amber colors made for some wonderful photo sessions.

Wadi Rum, Jordan
Views like this make coming back with great photos easy

Wadi Rum, Jordan playing in the desert in Jordan

Wadi Rum is a Unesco Heritage Site – here’s why:

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.

the beautiful desert in Jordan

Sulfur Mining at Kawah Ijen volcano

I went hiking up a volcano!

Sulfur Mining at Kawah Ijen volcano

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.

photos from Sulfur Mining at Kawah Ijen volcano in Java, Indonesia | Visit50.com

Sulfur mining at Kawah Ijen volcano | Java, Indonesia
looked like fire
Man carries sulfur up from the sulfur mine, around the mountain, and then down
Can I help you carry something?

Sulfur mining at Kawah Ijen volcano | Java, IndonesiaStanding in front of the sulfur mine at Kawah Ijen volcano | Java, IndonesiaSulfur mining at Kawah Ijen volcano | Java, Indonesia 41Holding sulfur at a sulfur mine at Kawah Ijen volcano | Java, Indonesia

the yellow brick road leads to... this -- a sulfur mine at Kawah Ijen volcano | Java, Indonesia
the “yellow brick road” leads to… this.

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.

"eating" sulfur deposits at the Kawah Ijen volcano Kawah Ijen volcano
note – eating sulfur deposits is not recommended

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.

Hike up to see Ijen volcano

As we hiked up towards the peak of the Kawah Ijen volcano crater, visibility got worse with each step

Hiking up to see Kawah Ijen
Hiking up to see Kawah Ijen. Visibility declined rapidly – at one point I couldn’t see 5 feet in front of me!

So much for the amazing Kawah Ijen view of a turquoise crater lake surrounded by Volcanoes.

At least I’d soon discover the sulfur mining at Ijen.