The Chocolate Hills of Bohol
Bohol in the Philippines is home to a dramatically unusual geographic feature – the Chocolate Hills. Unfortunately for us, Willie Wonka and the Oompa Loompas haven’t produced a chocolate wonderland between the hills. The name ‘Chocolate Hills’ is derived from their appearance in summer where the lush green grass turns into a chocolate brown colour.
The exact number of haycock hills has strangely never been recorded. It has been estimated that the island of Bohol is home to up to 1800 of the dome shaped hills. So how did these conical shaped hills form? Are they a result of man-made influences or purely formed due to environmental factors?
Many urban legends and myths surrounding the formation of the symmetrical hills, passed down through generations for centuries. As with many unusual geographical features, local legends abound as to how they got there in the first place. One story involves a pair of giants who had a disagreement. They fought by hurling huge rocks at each other until they were exhausted. Once they awoke they forgot their differences and departed but didn’t bother to do any cleaning up. As often the case with such fables, the truth can often get in the way of a good story!
The Chocolate Hills are composed of limestone which was subsequently covered with topsoil and grass. A karst feature, the topographic shaped is produced when layers of soluble bedrock are slowly eroded via a process of dissolution. Erosion of the accompanying farmland has formed rivers and caves with underground springs, contributing to the unique shape of the hills.
The hills aren’t just a dot on the horizon either. Rising up to 400 feet in height above the plane of Bohol, they provide the town of Carmen with an irreplaceable source of income via tourism. The hills were declared a national geographical monument in 1988; however recently as 2006 mining was still playing a large role in their destruction. Even though UNESCO World Heritage status has been applied for the Chocolate Hills they are still perceived by locals as viable sites for small scale quarries.
The Chocolate Hills of Bohol are just another example of the human race and the environment needing to find a balance, or before we know it, the planet that we have grown to love might be destroyed.