Kaman-utek Blue Soil - Atlas Obscura

Also known as the Blue Soil Hills, Kaman-utek is a riveting expanse of bluish-green mounds in Balili, Bontoc. This area has also been called the Blue Soil of Sagada, but it has been communally accepted to be politically located within the municipality of Bontoc. 

In the Bontoc dialect, kaman-utek means “like a brain.” This area got this name because its systems of folds and ridges were likened to brain gyri. Locals also added that confluents of saturated loose soils in the middle of ridges are the equivalent of cerebral veins.

The unique bluish color of Kaman-utek comes from an abundance of copper sulfate in the soil. Specifically, the copper develops a patina when it is exposed to oxygen and weathering. (The same process is responsible for the Statue of Liberty’s distinctive color.) The copper also reacts to rain and humidity, which changes the soil’s bluish shade almost every day. The soil is more of a bluish-green color in the dry seasons and an intense blue during the rainy season. White soil can also be seen in some areas, especially on the lower slopes of ridges. Results from multiple researchers and tests have confirmed that the soil is safe for visitors.

Kaman-utek is surrounded by footrails, towering trees, and a local variety of flora making it like a small peculiar blue desert in the middle of a lush pine forest.

Know Before You Go

Be respectful of the community, their culture, and the environment when visiting the place. To reach Kaman-utek, a 30-minute drive from the Bontoc Local Government Unit to Balili and another 30-minute hike through the village’s pine forests are necessary. The hills are also usually part of Sagada tour packages and require a four to five-hour hike through Marlboro Hills to reach.

It is highly advised that visitors avoid stepping on the hills and only take pictures from designated areas to help preserve the natural site.

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February 29, 2024

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