The Tarsier Trail

The tarsier trail is a pathway that meanders through the gently rolling terrain of the interior towns of Corella, Sikatuna and Loboc north of Tagbilaran City, the capital of the island province of Bohol.

Over a distance roughly 15 kilometers it traverses the natural habitat of the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta), offering numerous vantage points from which to catch a glimpse of what is popularly called the “world’s smallest monkey” in the wild and become acquainted with the a wide variety of local flora and fauna.

In the wake of the issuance of Proclamation 1030 by President Fidel V. Ramos declaring the 45-million- year- old primate as an endangered species, the development of the Trail by Bohol-based Philippine Tarsier foundation on the initiative of Tourism secretary Mina Gabor aims to highlight the destination’s new thrust toward ecotourism for nature conservancy.

The trail begins in Corella, where in recent years efforts have been made to breed the tarsier in captivity. There, the foundation is to set up a research facility for the study and the propagation of the species as well as a visitor complex, in which trekkers will be oriented to the unique characteristics and habits of the animal via a photographic display and an audio-visual presentation.

In small groups they will then be conducted by trained volunteer guides, mostly college students from Tagbilaran, through a 134-hectare forested area that has been set aside as a Tarsier sanctuary, populated by an estimated 500 of the species divided into mini-colonies of no more than three to ten adults and offsprings each.

Along the way, they will see mature secondary growths of mahogany, teak and ficus trees and will be reminded that up to the last century, Bohol was main source of hardwood used in construction of sea vessels, churches, houses and for furniture throughout the Central Visayas region.

They will also be introduced to the many varieties of palm, fern, bamboo and other greenery growing in profusion on both sides of the Trail.

As they proceed farther they will be alerted to the other fauna these parts are home to, foremost among them the serpent eagle, brahmini kite, woodpecker, rocky-tailed blue-headed parrot, glass owl, bubock pigeon, water cock, parakeets, and reel.

Monkeys, monitor lizards and snakes like the python and the cobra still abound, and on a good day, the trekkers may even be treated to sightings of the macock, palm civet cat, and the Philippine civet cat.

The entire area, needless to say, is insect paradise, teeming with the creatures that are a staple of the diet of the Philippine tarsier, which will only ingest them live.

All these may be observed either at ground level or from a series of elevated decks to be erected along the Trail, some with restrooms nearby.

From the hinterlands of Sikatuna, the trail then crosse over into Loboc near the source of the broad and deep eponymous river, where after a course that can take anywhere from two hours to half a day, swimming and sunbathing should come as a welcome respite.

A short visit to coraline stone Loboc church, a fine example of the more subdued but nonetheless still grand Jesuit baroque style for which the province is famous, comes next.

Then, just across the road from the church, the trekkers board bamboo rafts, partaking of a native seafood buffet, or a hearty snack as they float lazily down the placid emerald-green river up to the small seaport of the town of Loay. From there they take the road back to Tagbilaran, which is no more than a easy 40 minutes away.