Taroko Gorge
Taroko Gorge, Taiwan, 2009-08-28 12:00 by Laerke and Martin
Taroko gorge is a natural wonder, and the fact that there is a good road winding all the way through makes it a manmade wonder as well! Our little car braved the many turns and twisting road well, making our way deep into the gorge slowly but easily. The road is quite good, sometimes too narrow to have two cars passing each other, but with relatively light traffic, it doesn’t create any serious problems.

We camped right in the middle of the gorge on a great little campsite. This time we had to pay a 200$ fee, but that’s still quite cheap for accommodation.
We did some very nice walks in Taroko. The first one, Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail, is really well known and done by all the tour groups. It’s an old part of the road, that has now been closed for traffic (they’ve build a tunnel for the cars instead) and is really quite amazing. It follows the gorge and bends with the river far underneath. You have to wear a helmet, so everyone either looks like miners, construction workers, engineers or maybe just plain silly.

On the second day we set off for the Shakadeng trail. Again it’s a relatively easy trail in the beginning, with a concrete or flat stone path. It follows the Shakadeng river and twists and turns with it. You pass through some aboriginal land, which is off-limits for tourist. The river looks VERY inviting, but signs everywhere warn of no swimming. Taiwanese tourists don’t seem to be able to read signs though, so at certain good swimming spots, there’ll be a lot of splashing around.
When the trail officially stopped, we headed down to the river, and river traced further up a bit. After a short while we came to the most beautiful swimming spot, with a nice deep pool, big rocks to jump from, a small waterfall and the clearest, green-blue hued water. We immediately put on swimming suits and jumped into the refreshing river.
After a while of swimming we sat on the bank drying, when we suddenly heard a noise behind us. “A bear”, Lily for some reason screamed – which turned out, luckily, to be false alarm. Instead it was two aboriginal kids coming to their favorite fishing/swimming spot, a spot we now had invaded. Though they didn’t mind at all; in fact they seemed to really enjoy having company. We swam around, splashed in the water, made wild jumps from the cliffs and watched them fishing (with little luck). When we later told them, that we first thought they were a bear, the thought it to be hilarious – how stupid can those tourists be ;)

We also went on the Bayan trail – it led us through some long dark tunnels, over bridges with fierce looking currents underneath and to a beautiful waterfall. The trail was closed halfway due to construction though, but it was still a great, but somewhat sweaty hike.
After Taroko, we drove south along the coast on Highway 11. We went on the beach, looked at the magnificent coastline, camped at Shitiping, visited the dragon-like bridge and island of Sansiantai (which under the fierce sun was melting hot) and finally camped in the artsy town of Dulan (again free camping). In Dulan we went to the local sugar-factory cum art workshop, were local artists have set up their workspaces, art galleries and small stores. There was a nice relaxed vibe there and some interesting pieces of art. We didn’t arrive on a weekend unfortunately, as there are often live concerts being held.