There is a spot on the Taiwanese East Coast I love to come back to. A magical area, where I keep imagine seeing an old troll peaking out from behind a boulder, where I think I may hear the patter of little elves or maybe it was a the footsteps of a hobbit? Surely that shadow I just saw must have been the wild harpies flying over us – I just wait for their screams when they spotted me – but no, the rocks falling were probably just lose stones, maybe pieces of marble, not thrown by the troll, the patter of feet may have been one of the wild monkeys and the shadow? Well, maybe that was a creature from the fairytales, but not the evil wild harpies, with the upper body of a woman and the tail and wings and claws from a bird of prey, but surely a very friendly creature, it is Taiwan after all, a country known for its friendliness – this is in the marvelous Taroko gorge, a fantastic piece of nature, on the way down from Yilan, along the magnificent Taiwanese east coast, not far from the city of Hualien, in the Hualien township.
Taroko Gorge, the ravine shaped by nature over thousands and thousands of years, an area still very much changing – rockfalls, landslides – sadly to a great extent due to us humans exploiting the nature – earthquakes and typhoons, they have all helped form this wonderful piece of nature.
You can rent a car to get here, or a scooter, and drive here, or you can take a tour bus or a taxi from Hualien. Best is to let someone else drive, because this is too beautiful to be focusing on the road. Stay a few nights, go up for the day, anything is possible, but Taroko you need to see, if you get the opportunity. It is worth taking some extra time for Taroko; It truly is one of the most magical spots I know, with the high mountains leaning over you as if they wanted to check out what kind of odd little creature you are, there, on the roads that serpentine through along the ravine, and the river, wild and crazy days shortly after rains, more calm when it’s dry, cutting into the rock far below, making the ravine deeper and deeper every day, month, year.
Bring the hiking boots and the camping gear and hike one of the many hiking paths, or come and stop at the view spots and walk the organised walking paths accessible for everyone, and stay in a hotel or guest house – although there are only a few, many people do day trips and stay in Hualien, or close to the little local train station where the river meets the sea – another great option.
Just don’t take the warning signs lightly, if it says “wear a helmet”, do, you can borrow them along the road, and if it says “road closed”, trust that, there might have been a rock fall or a heavy rain that made the path unavailable for a while. Taroko IS still very much alive and you want to be too – if nothing else so you can come back here and visit again…