Last November, we went to Taiwan for two weeks and we did a road trip around the island and it was fabulous ! The weather, the people.. and the food, oh the food…. it was just amazing ! We landed in Taipei and we started to drive clockwise around the island. Previous parts can be found here : Taiwan
We started our second day of exploration at Taroko National park by doing the Swallow Grotto Trail.
It is not a very long walk (it will take you approximatively 30 minutes to complete) but in order to do it safely, you are supposed to pick up a helmet when you enter in the park. We tried to find the place (several times) and we were unsuccessful. We still visited the place, hoping nothing would hit our heads. The views of the deep and narrow marble canyon were really dramatic, with the potholes on the the cliff faces and the Liwu River flowing at its centre. The name “Swallow Grotto” comes from the swallows that nest in these potholes but we didn’t spot any flying around.
A bit further away, there was The Tunnel of the Nine Turns. It was closed due to the risk of falling rocks so it wasn’t possible to visit it. We stopped briefly at Cimu bridge nearby to enjoy the views. The rock beneath the bridge looks like a frog but you really need a lot of imagination to see it :D A pavilion was built on this frog rock, representing the crown on the frog and I think it was really cute !
We also visited The Zhuilu Old Road and the famous suspended bridge and it was awesome. It was definitively my favourite part of the park basically because no one was there. It was a recommendation from the lady at the guesthouse. She qualified it as a “hidden spot” and she was right ! Hiking permit is required in advance so if you wish to do the trail completely better to book the permit in advance !
Tianxiang was our next destination where the Dasha River and Tacijili River converge to become the famous Liwu River. It’s possible to visit the graceful pagoda and the Xiangde temple. This temple is surrounded by mountains and the views are known to be gorgeous but we could’t get access to it that day… the trail was closed.
The food over there didn’t seem too appealing so we decided to drive to Buluowan instead, a terrace that was formerly inhabited by the Taroko tribe. It is now a service station where you can buy food and visit a museum about the Taroko Tribe. It was very interesting to see the film and learn about this tribe !
Our last stop was The eternal spring shrine ! The shrine was inspired by the famous Tang Dynasty temple and the “Changchun Falls” made this place very iconic. There is a trail behind the temple to be able to climb to the Changuang Temple. The hiking trail was closed but we managed to take the road with the car (very steep) and visit it afterwards.
As you can see, we were quite unfortunate and most of the trails were closed during our visit, but we still enjoyed the park very much !
End of afternoon, we decided to drive to Hualien to buy some souvenirs and tasted the local food (we bought some taro balls and peanuts coated deserts, cured meat as well as some Taroko liquor). I had a nice papaya milk, tasted some delicious dumpling and we ended up in the night market and sampled even more food !