With our Chinese New Year holiday approaching its end and a dull Saturday about to lull round, Luke and I packed our peanut butter sandwiches, lemon tea and raincoats for a spur-of-the-moment trip to Taroko National Park.
If you’ve ever opened a travel guide to Taiwan then you’ll know that Taroko National Park is the place to see. Taroko gorge is a 19km-long marble canyon known for its mountains, forests and blue waters.
The internet tells me that in the language of the Truku indigenous tribe “Taroko” translates to mean “magnificent and beautiful.” Long ago a Truku tribesman saw the azure Pacific Ocean when he walked out of the gorge and exclaimed “Taroko!” at its beauty. The name stuck when the National Park was founded.
Being dumped out off a bus of Taiwanese tourists and a batty non-English speaking driver who’d been eating too many coffee candies, we ventured past the tourists queueing up to pose underneath the entrance gate and into the park. Having refused the all-day bus pass, bus tours, and having not brought our scooter, we were without transportation in this incredible and huge valley – but we had our feet and tatty trainers to rely on!
The Shakadang trail (also known as the “Mysterious Valley Trail”) is the closest walkable trail, and so we ventured on. After rattling down some metal stairs, the trailing winds along a river cliff. Sadly part of the trail was closed, so we’ll have to go back – apparently you can swim in the blue waters when the weather hots up.
With most of the afternoon still left we lunched overlooking the Eternal Spring Shrine, and began our hike up the 1250 metres of stone steps. Once at the top we ambled around the Bell Tower, looked out across the forest-strewn mountains and descended the other side, across a rope bridge, to another temple.
Now armed with a map of the whole of Taroko, we cannot wait for the summer sunshine so we can return and cruise though on our scooter and hike along more of the trails.
The rest of our photos from our day in Taroko can be found here on my Facebook.