Seeing the cute furry tarsiers was my number one agenda when I was in Bohol. Where exactly does one go to experience a close encounter with these highly celebrated critters? Well, there’s a number of places scattered throughout Bohol but the best place would be the tarsier sanctuary in the town of Corella. It’s a bit out of the way from the main tourist trail of Bohol but it was worth the effort. Not only did I get the chance to get real close to a few tarsiers , I also had the satisfaction of supporting the protection of these highly endangered species.

Getting up close to “happy” tarsiers housed at the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella, Bohol.

Getting to the Tarsier Sanctuary

The tarsier sanctuary established by the Philippine Tarsier Foundation is located in the town of Corella, approximately a 25 minute commute from Tagbilaran City. From the city proper, I took a tricycle (P30) to the Dao Integrated Jeepney/Bus Terminal conveniently located beside the Island City Mall. When I got there, I discovered that there were also passenger jeepneys that go from the city proper to “ICM” or “Dao Terminal” for just P7.

Jeepney stationed at Tagbilaran’s Dao Terminal located beside the Island City Mall.

The tarsier sanctuary is located past the town proper of Corella … so I looked for a jeep bound for Sikatuna, the town after Corella. If you drop off at Corella town proper, you need to take an additional tricycle ride to get to the tarsier sanctuary. There wasn’t any “Sikatuna” jeeps when I arrived and it took (a long) 30 minutes until one made an appearance then another 45 minutes to wait for other passengers. The jeep dropped up off along the highway at the 14 kilometer mark (P10 fare). From there, it was a 15 minute walk to the entrance of the tarsier sanctuary.

Close Encounter with the Tarsiers

I paid P20 for the entrance fee to the tarsier sanctuary and waited at the reception area where a quaint exhibit of the tarsier protection program built up my anticipatory excitement. My guide took me to a fenced up area of the forest where a few of the tarsiers were housed. We then had to navigate through the shrubs and trees to look for the tiny critters. It took us a while but we finally found one shyly hiding behind the leaves of a low branch. It was sooooo cute … it even gave me (what I like to think) was a friendly smirk.

I didn’t want to stay with just one tarsier for a long time so we went ahead to find the others. We found another one resting high up a tree. Tarsiers are nocturnal creatures … I probably woke this one up during its sleep because it had its eyes half-shut. I seriously had to restrain myself from climbing one of the trees so I could take a closer look at this Yoda lookalike.

After getting a few shots, we went back to the 1st tarsier … I still couldn’t get enough of its cute smile. Luckily, it had moved to a better spot where I could get a unobstructed view of it. I was so ecstatic to find a very willing model for my tarsier photoshoot. I moved in closer, perhaps too close for comfort, when it suddenly gave me a super huge smile and then leaped away from view. Tarsiers are known for their extreme sensitivity to stress, what I thought was a fun smile could have been a sign of agitation for being too “in your face”.

I was told there were less than 10 tarsiers in the fenced up area. Not only does it provide a more convenient viewing area for visitors but it also keeps the tarsiers away from stray cats and other predators. Although the fenced up area is basically just a blown-up cage, there’s a lot of room for the tarsiers to move around and, in my opinion, much better than the sorry conditions of other tarsier cages in Bohol.

I went to one tarsier cage at Sagbayan Peak (Chocolate Hills Viewdeck) … the caretaker there grabbed one tarsier and put it in my arm for a picture. I felt bad for the tarsier considering how deprived it was of sleep because of the constant disturbance of visiting tourists.

The Tarsier Sanctuary takes up 134 hectares of Corella’s forested areas. I skipped going to the inner parts of the sanctuary because I wanted to spend the rest of the day in Panglao Island. If I had more time, I would’ve loved to explore the trails and elevated viewing decks spread out in various parts of the sanctuary, where the tarsiers (hundreds more of them) can be observed in their natural habitat.

On my way back to Tagbilaran, I made a stopover at Corella’s town proper to visit its old Spanish-colonial Church before heading off to the island paradise called Panglao.