While Taipei is a great city to live in, just staying in Taipei wouldn’t pay enough justice to the rest of Taiwan. Back in the old days Portuguese sailors used to call the island Ilha formosa, the beautiful island. Of course we have to convince ourselves that this name is justified by exploring the island. After we went to Jiufen and Mount Keelung last weekend, we decided to get to one of the major highlights of Taiwan: The Taroko National Park. The Taroko National park is named after its most famous part the Taroko Gorge. Taroko Gorge is famous for its steep rock walls, narrow canyons, amazing views and stunning hikes.
We got on our train to Hualien on Thursday afternoon and arrived a couple of hours later at our nice hostel. After we had some dinner and rented three scooter, we went to sleep early so that we can start our exploration well rested. Riding a scooter in Taiwan is apart from the big cities like Taipei really easy. There are separate scooter lines on the streets and the traffic isn’t as crazy as in other Asian countries.
After a short scooter ride from Hualien to the Taroko Gorge, we first got information about the status of the different trails. Unfortunately due to the big typhoon a couple of weeks ago around 50% of the trails weren’t available. So we decided to explore the gorge first via scooter and then to go on two or three small trails on this day. While sitting on the scooter and following the street going higher and higher, we had the possibility to enjoy amazing views over the gorge. In my opinion a scooter is the best vehicle to find your way through the gorge. No hassle with parking and you are really in the middle of the scenery.
After we drove almost to the end of Gorge, we decided to go on three different small trails, where we could cross the gorge via a suspension bridge and also visit the eternal spring shrine on a different one. Those short and easy trails are really popular and therefor quite crowded, if it’s possible you shouldn’t do them on a weekend. Fortunately we were there on a Friday and we had some space for us and were enable to enjoy the little trails. After a long and exhausting day, we went to bed early and we fell asleep almost instantly.
The next morning we drove again to the Taroko Gorge, but we wanted to do a proper hike through the mountains. We decided to go on the Shakadang trail to the village Dali and it was the absolute right decision. The trail goes up a mountain on depending the way you are choosing, it involves a little bit of climbing, but if offers amazing views over the landscape and you can almost walk completely alone through the wonderful landscape, while the big tourist groups just stay directly in the gorge.
The weather we had wasn’t perfect, but the cloudy and foggy weather added a mystic touch to wonderful scenery in the mountains. In the small village (there are actually only a couple of houses) we met a really nice Taiwanese hiking group, who brought a lot of food with them, which they also shared with us. After a short break we made our way back.
The last point on our agenda was seeing the Qingshui Cliffs on the coast. These Cliffs rise vertical from the pacific sea with an average height of 800m. They way to the cliffs isn’t that nice with the scooter, because there’s a lot of traffic on the street and a lot vehicles are overtaking quite aggressively. But we made it and could enjoy the fantastic scenery.
Our way back to Hualien wasn’t that smooth. One of our scooter, which has caused problems for the last days, broke down. The rear wheel fell apart and we were really lucky that nobody was injured. Even though this was kind of a bad experience, there were immediate help by friendly Taiwanese. 20s after the break down a pick up stopped, offered to load the scooter on the truck bed and bring it to Hualien!
Back in Hualien we tried to invite our friendly rescuer to dinner, but they refused and just wished us a nice stay in Taiwan. Still happy about the friendly help we got on our train back to Taipei two hours later.
On the next day we really felt our muscles because of the exhausting hike and there also was another thing, which was bothering us, the typhoon Dujuan.
The next week: A storm is coming!