COMPASS MAGAZINE, February 2007.

Lingering off the beaten track at Taroko Gorge (Part 1)

--- By Lishea Chen Translated by Ann Lee

The breath-taking landscapes and scenery of Hualien's Taroko Gorge are an amazing, eye-opening experience for visitors from around Taiwan and the world. Nevertheless, the growing number of visitors every year means that most people usually enjoy driving from one end of the gorge to the other without realizing that the real beauty of it all is hidden in the area's walking trails. Below are some additional tips on how to more fully enjoy Taroko Gorge.

The Taroko National Park headquarters has chosen around 10 walking trails for visitors. One trail, named for the Taroko Degalon Aborigine tribe , will take you three hours to finish. From its overlooking viewpoint, you can take an entire view of the gorge and Changchun Bridge. Another trail is named after the Shakatang (??) tribe, a name that was changed back to "Sgadan" in 2001. The walk takes two to four hours round trip. Continuing on will take you along the Chang Chun Shrine Trail; head west to find the old and new Ning An Bridge. You can river trace through the tunnel next to the new bridge to a waterfall, but you must be fully equipped and prepared to do this safely.

On the lower end of Pulowan (in aboriginal language) Terrace, you can find the Taroko Headquarters and Meandering Core Trail. A hotel named "Leader Village Taroko" can be found at the upper terrace in Mountain Moon (Shanyue) Village. This place (tel. 038-610-111) has 36 Japanese-style lodges (2-8 people per room) along with landscaped surroundings, to provide a serene environment for guests. A carpentry workshop also allows you to purchase items like wood-carved doors and other artifacts made by the Taroko tribe people. The 12-course meal here includes pork rib kebabs, stewed chicken, tilapia, rice in bamboo tubes and other dishes, all served with authenic tribal utensils. Later in the evening, you can enjoy chesnut rice wine while watching the staff sing and dance the night away. Before you know it, you'll feel right at home in this relaxing environment.


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