Tag Archives: Hiking

Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Philippines

Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Philippines

Let’s discover the “Chocolate Hills” in Bohol Philippines. They’re a collection of more than a thousand limestone Hershey Kisses shaped hills, spread over 20 miles.

Firstly, I’ll answer why they call them the Chocolate Hills. Secondly, I’ll explain how many hills there are and how large. Further, my favorite part, I’ll share the romantic legend behind it the name. Finally, I’ll also include some photos. Let’s begin!

What are they? Scale – by the numbers

There’s 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. In other words, that’s a lot of hills!

Why do they call them the Chocolate Hills?

While the name sounds like something out of Willie Wonka, it’s not nearly as fun.

During the dry season in Bohol, the green grass turns brown and looks like endless rows of Hershey Kisses. This is why they call these the Chocolate Hills.

Apparently “Muddy Hills” just doesn’t have the same ring to it – or tourist draw.

Bohol Chocolate Hills - Philippines
They look like mini mountains in Bohol. The hills are cone-shaped or dome-shaped hills. These hills are actually made of grass-covered limestone.

The domes vary in sizes from 100-160 feet. The largest ones grow to nearly 400 feet. Trees grow on the base of the hills but the rest of them are bare. They rest of the hills fill with grass, which turns to dirt in the dry season.

Bohol Chocolate Hills - Philippines

The romantic legend behind the name Chocolate Hills (and how they formed)

Next we’ll introduce the legend on how they formed. It’s certainly more fun!

There’s a romantic story of a giant named Arogo who was extremely powerful. Arogo falls 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.

Bohol Chocolate Hills - Philippines

See photos of us jumping over the Chocolate Hills on the island of Bohol, Philippines.

Bohol Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Philippines - me, Victor, Grace

I didn’t think they were quite as impressive as the hype, but they were certainly interesting! Perhaps they would be more intriguing if they were actually chocolate. We’d settle for chocolate-colored.

Imagine coming up with the branding. It’s great marketing by the Philippines government! There’s hills of dirt and they make tourists excited about them!

Wikipedia does a good job summarizing the science behind Chocolate Hills.

Learn more:

Finally, there is a wealth of good resources to learn more. Here are 4 other good websites. Each has additional facts and photos.

Bohol.ph, Bohol-PhilippinesPhilippines Travel Guide, TripAdvisor.

Bako National Park Borneo – wildlife rainforests

This post is about the wonders of Bako National Park on Bako Island Borneo. It’s a 10.5 square mile island that’s packed with awesomeness! It’s a can’t miss stop on any Sarawak western Borneo trip.

Bako National Park highlights

Bako island includes rainforests, secluded beaches with sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, jungle streams. It also includes lots of wildlife. The star of Bako is the rare proboscis monkey. There are about 300 long nosed proboscis monkeys throughout the island.

proboscis monkey at Bako national park
Rare Proboscis Monkey – relaxing on a low branch | Bako island in Borneo, Malaysia

Wildlife in Bako National Park

Monkeys are everywhere. The most common are mostly Long-tailed macaques, the most common monkeys in Asia. There’s also silver leaf monkeys. Of course the highlight is seeing rare proboscis monkeys . You can also lizards and bearded pigs.

monkey in Bako Borneo

Bako island coastline

The coast line is beautiful. Millions of years of erosion of the sandstone have created a coastline of steep cliffs. You’ll notice brilliant colored patterns formed by iron deposition.

sunset at Bako National Park on Bako island in Borneo

Getting to Bako National Park

Bako is located in western Malaysian Borneo. It’s in Borneo’s Sarawak region. Head to the ferry terminal in Bako village via taxi, shared van, or bus. Then upon arrival, take a boat to Bako Island Bako National Park.

island in Bako Natonal Park in Borneo

Bako island biodiversity and vegetation

Bako also has nearly every type of vegetation found in Borneo. There’s 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. Also Mangrove Forests, Mixed Dipterocarp Forest, Padang or Grasslands Vegetation and Peat Swamp Forest,” according to the official site.

coastline in Bako with mountains in the background

Hiking around Bako might become a highlight of your Borneo trip. I recommend it!

enjoying the view at Bako island in Bako Borneo

Do you love learning about monkeys?  I’ve had lots of experiences with primates in the wild.  For example, the week before I accidentally photographed monkey sex in Bali. Then, I wrote about Monkeys with huge noses, the largest you’ve ever seen. Finally, a story on when a monkey stole a camera and took selfies.

Wadi Rum Desert – Breathtaking views

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 desert.

Beautiful Wadi Rum desert in Jordan

Here’s a small sampling of the breathtaking views and scenery:

Wadi Rum sunrise, desert in Jordan

Wadi Rum is a desert valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock.

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

me photographing the beautiful sunrise in the desert in Wadi Rum, Jordan
Views like this make coming back with great photos easy

Wadi Rum sunrise, Jordan playing in the desert in Jordan

Unesco Heritage Site

Here’s why it’s a Unesco Heritage Site:

It features a varied desert landscape consisting of a range of narrow gorges and natural arches. It also has 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. It also traces the evolution of the early development of the alphabet.

The site illustrates the evolution of pastoral, agricultural and urban activity in the region.

Wadi Rum silhouette photo in Jordan

in Film

Lawrence of Arabia was about British army officer T.E. Lawrence’s journey through Wadi Rum. David Lean filmed much of this 1962 film on location.

My experience

There are a million stars visible over the desert, lighting up the sky.  I Iive in New York City, so seeing this many stars is a treat.  I sometimes forget about how beautiful it can be!

We camped overnight with a small group with the Bedouin people in their village.

singing by the fire in Wadi Rum desert in JordanThe village of Wadi Rum consists of several hundred Bedouin inhabitants. For example, our guide Mohammad is quite the musician as well.

Where is Wadi Rum?

It’s located in southern Jordan, in the Middle East. When visiting Jordan, it’s closed to Aqaba.

I LOVED Jordan. In addition to this experience, I also highly recommend Petra, and the Dead Sea.

Jordan map

Travel blogs are a great way to learn about travel experiences. In addition to mine, check out the posts from Adventurous Kate, PlanetD, and ALA.

Volcano Sulfur Mining at Kawah Ijen

Did you know you can hike a volcano and visit a sulfur mine?  Hike up to the top of the volcano at Kawah Ijen volcano in Indonesia. There you’ll find volcano sulfur mining. I found it fascinating!

Firstly, I’ll explain how it works and where you can find it. Next, I’ll explain what sulfur is used for. Then, I’ll provide some photos from my experience.

Where can you find Sulfur Mining?

Visit Indonesia in eastern Java, Indonesia. Upon arrival you can hike up to the top of Kawah Ijen volcano. Start your day early.

Also, ideally you’ll want to choose a clear day, since it’s overlooking the turquoise acid crater lake.

This sulfur mine has been active since 1968. There’s a labor intensive sulfur mining operation there with about 300 miners.

How Sulfur Mining works?

Miners extract the sulfur and carry it 8,660 feet up and down the mountain. These miners face excruciating heat, toxic fumes, and heavy loads.

In exchange the miners are rewarded with only about five dollars per trip.

Volcano Sulfur Mining photo tour

Sulfur Mining photos from our Kawah Ijen volcano adventure are below.

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

What is Sulfur mining used for?

The main use is in making chemicals for agriculture, mostly for fertilizers. Other uses of sulfur include refining petroleum, metal mining, and the production of organic and inorganic chemicals.

Sulfur mining at Kawah Ijen volcano | Java, Indonesia
looked like fire

Sulfur is called “Devil’s Gold” by some

Man carries sulfur up from the sulfur mine, around the mountain, and then down
Can I help you carry something?
miner carries sulfur down the mountain
guess not.

new friends from the Kawah Ijen volcano hike | Java, IndonesiaStanding in front of the sulfur mine at Kawah Ijen volcano | Java, Indonesia

fun at the Sulfur mine at Kawah Ijen volcano | Java, Indonesia 41

What does sulfur look like?

Sulfur is yellow in color. Sulfur’s odor is the most distinctive feature.

Holding sulfur 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.

Why is sulfur in volcanoes?

Sulfur is produced by volcanoes because it’s common in our crust and upper mantle.
“Sulfur readily comes to the surface of our planet because it is a relatively light element. The sulfur is kept in a liquid form at the higher pressures within a magmatic body prior to eruption.” (Quora)
"eating" sulfur deposits at the Kawah Ijen volcano Kawah Ijen volcano
note – I don’t recommend eating sulfur deposits

Kawah Ijen – I certainly don’t recommend eating sulfur deposits

Sulfur is VERY heavy


Kawah Ijen - sulfur trek

Hike up Kawah Ijen volcano

As you hike up towards the peak of the Kawah Ijen volcano crater, visibility gets 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!

Visibility and colors change with each step. The air gets more difficult to breathe you get towards the peak due to the sulfur.

Zero Visibility at the volcano

Kawah Ijen, turquose crater lake

Visit Kawah Ijen for the view of a turquoise crater lake surrounded by Volcanoes. After seeing this photo of Ijen I knew I wanted to visit! It looks gorgeous – a turquoise crater lake in the middle of a group of volcanoes.

Kawah Ijen

But manage your expectations, because you might end up with zero visibility like my experience.

We took a red-eye road trip to the base. Then, a difficult 2-hour drive up the mountain to the base. Next, a hike up where air that became more difficult to breathe. Additionally, the overcast sky became nothing but fog, with visibility only a few feet in some places. All we saw was this:

View from the top of the Ijen volcano
View from the top – you’ll have to use your imagination because this is all we saw.

More sulfur mining volcano photos

My favorite photos of Kawah Ijen come from the on the Boston Globe website, as well as photography of the sulfur mines at Ijen here, and here.

My favorite volcano experience was volcano boarding in Nicaragua. You can actually hike up the and go volcano sledding!