Taiwan Fun Magazine, November 2004


River Tracing in Wulai

By Rachel Lanning and Dave Freeman Translated by Iva Huang

Just 45 minutes from Taipei lies an unspoiled jungle waiting to be explored. A river tracing adventure awaits you in Wulai, on the Nanshi River.

River tracing is fast becoming a popular sport in Taiwan, which boasts abundant mountains, rivers, streams and creeks. Some say the sport began 40 years ago in Italy, and was brought to Taiwan by Japanese sportsmen in 1981. Dave Freeman, organizer of TOA Sports, a group that runs summer camps, is one who has embraced the activity.
"River tracing is not new," Freeman explains. "It just recently acquired a cool name." Also known as brook walking or waterfall hunting, it allows the adventurer to access otherwise inaccessible, untouched jungle. To put it simply, river tracing is following a river up the side of a mountain while wading through small rapids, climbing over rocks and other obstacles, to venture into untouched territory.

You don't have to go far to try this sport. And you don't have to be an expert climber. Freeman has led river-tracing trips with kids as young as 10 years old. When it comes to river tracing, there is something for everyone. Essentially, the steeper the climb, the greater the danger. New climbers should find an easy route first and hike up a small creek.

As you're going to be in and out of the water, Freeman recommends buying an airtight dry bag and filling it with a change of clothes, drinking water, and other essentials.
It's also important to wear the right type of shoes. River-tracing boots are ideal, but most people can get away with a good pair of old tennis shoes. Clothing depends on the weather; usually shorts and a T-shirt, but some folk prefer wetsuits.


Directions to Wulai:

By Rachel Lanning and Dave Freeman Translated by Batty Liu

Hop on a bus at Xindian MRT station and head to Wulai. About two-thirds of the way there, you'll come to Zhongzhi Village Village up on the hill to your left. Once you pass this town, you need to start looking for a small road on your right leading down into a valley called Honghegu; ask the bus driver to notify you when you are approaching the Honghegu bus stop. Walk down the small road to the swinging bridge. Cross and take a right; keep going until you come to some concrete steps. Soon the concrete trail becomes a dirt trail. Keep hiking until you get to the stairs headed up the mountain.
Three routes start at the base of the valley between Gaoyaoshan and Xiangtianhushan, next to the Jiajiuliao River. If you have an entire day, skip the mountain hike and get in the water right away; if you prefer a quicker route, you can go up the stairs until you see a small path cut away to the right. Hike along this path for about 30 minutes. At this point, you hike back down to the river and begin your wet adventure. You'll spend about three hours tracing the river.

Taiwan Tourism Information:
TOA Sports: http://www.toasports.com/rivertracing/