While visiting Taiwan, Mimi and I decided we couldn’t leave without experiencing the impressive scenery at Taroko National Park (太魯閣國家公園). It is a short 2 hour express train ride from Taipei so we decided to give it two days. A typhoon was scheduled to bring heavy rain at some point during that week so we didn’t want to risk a day trip, which would normally be possible.
Earlier in the week, we booked a private taxi tour so that we could make our own schedule and avoid the huge tour groups by starting early. I would highly recommend this because we were able to see all of the sights without huge swarms of people crowding us and the cost was extremely reasonable (approximately 100 USD for 7-8 hours).
The views within the marble gorge were magnificent and walking through the water curtain cave was quite an experience. Although it was a bit cloudy during our visit, we lucked out and only encountered heavy rain during our lunch break and after we had arrived at our hotel for the evening.
It is amazing to me that all of the roads in the park are public and people use them for commuting through the area.
This is one of my favorite views from the tour while walking back from the Water Curtain Cave .
The Eternal Spring Shrine (長春祠) and the walkway cut into the marble cliffs. I destroyed my longer lens while riding a Ubike before this excursion, so I couldn’t zoom in any more. 😦
Old bridge to the walkway.
A few Buddhist statues and some history that I couldn’t read.
This entrance to the shrine made me feel like an asian Indiana Jones.
Cool tunnels that connect with the cliffside walkway.
The shrine itself wasn’t extremely ornate or all that magnificent. It was all about the surroundings.
Our tour guide Tonny renting us a couple hardhats for the walk through Swallow Grotto (燕子口). He was an awesome and extremely patient guide if anyone plans to visit the gorge (firstname.lastname@example.org).
But before heading to Swallow Grotto, we drove through some windy roads to get lunch.
Tonny took us to a restaurant within a retreat run by Taiwanese aborigines. These little boars held a bit of rice liqueur.
We were extremely surprised at the huge portion sizes. The ribs were really tasty and the rice baked inside bamboo was neat.
Nice big passion fruits for dessert.
Unfortunately the gate for this bridge was locked.
The entrance tunnel of Swallow Grotto (燕子口). It was pretty dark (this was a somewhat long exposure)
I’m not sure what the boxy formations on the ceiling are for but it certainly looks cool (and a bit alien).
At the end of the Swallow Grotto path there was this famous rock formation known to resemble the profile of an indian chief’s face and his headdress (to the right of the water flow).
Next up was this bridge crossing over the back of what looked like a giant frog prince (the little gazebo is supposed to be his crown).
Sorry for the blurry pic but I wasn’t expecting this cool grass lined tunnel as we approached the entrance to the Baiyang Waterfall Trail (白楊瀑布).
Mimi was quick to point out this extremely welcoming sign as we prepared to enter the pitch black tunnel leading to the trail. Tonny was kind enough to provide us with flashlights, raincoats and waterproof shoes.
This is how dark it was inside. Mimi decided it was more important to search the tunnel ceiling and walls for dangerous creatures than have light in front of us.
She managed to find some bats but my wide lens and extremely low light made them hard to capture.
Once we made it through the entrance tunnel, we were greeted by the beautiful trail. Since we started before the big tour groups it was quite peaceful as well (aside from the danger of wasps and venomous snakes).
As we continued on, we soon realized that the entire trek would consist of tiptoeing through numerous dark caves in order to reach the Water Curtain Cave.
The start of some calcium formations that Mimi found.
The only other critters we ran into that day were these little cave frogs.
Giant boulder split by the rushing water.
Finally we reached our intended destination! The Water Curtain Cave.
The entrance. By this time, walking into dark caves felt normal.
Which path to take? We followed the slippery walkway along the right.
The curtains just seem surreal when you finally reach them. The minimal lighting adds to the feeling. I had to brace myself against the wall to get a steady picture.
Mimi and I had to play with reflecting the light from our flashlights off the rocks in order to not look like ghosts in the pictures (or being completely dark because of the only light source from behind).
I snapped a couple more shots before I decided it was time to put my soaked camera away (the memory card door was no longer water sealed due to the aforementioned Ubike incident).