Day two in Taroko was breathtaking.
We took a bus right up through the gorge into the national park. It was a winding 45 minute journey through some of the most dramatic scenery I have ever seen. Our plan was simple, bus up to the top of the main trail through the gorge and the hop on our folding bikes to cruise down, stopping off at various beauty spots. It was a 20 km bike journey, that would prove to exhaust us but show us some incredible views.
We started off with a 4 km hike to a beautiful waterfall. There were only a few others enjoying this trail, as we arrived before those pesky day trippers. The waterfall was peaceful, and very calming. With the weather proving delightful, we enjoyed this start of our exploration day. To get there, we had to walk for 200 m through a dark cave, making the reveal at the other end all the more awe inspiring.
After the hike we hopped on our bikes, physically and mentally unprepared for the return journey. A very short ride later revealed the first tourist stop, which was a dramatic pagoda and large golden Buddha that overlooks the mountains. Back on the saddle, we continued our decent. What a way to explore the gorge cycling is! We had to keep an eye out for traffic, keeping our wits about us. Still, it was totally worth it for the views and exhilarating ride.
The large cliffs rose above us, the river ran below us, and we snaked our way down through the valley. It was dramatic, not only because of the scenery, but also because of the speed we where whizzing down the mountain at! Luckily we had bikes with good brakes…
On route down, we also visited the famous Eternal Spring Shrine. With a waterfall flowing down the cliff through the gates of the shrine in the background, we sat down to enjoy a well earned cup of coffee and cake. By now, the tour buses had caught us up, and most of them had past us. We bumped shoulders with other tourists in the cafe, feeling like our hiking boots and rucksacks were actually suitable. Rather than being the ‘get up’ gear that most of them were wearing, to spend their travels sat on a bus…
Leaving the tour buses behind, we took our final stop and 2 km hike along the river. We were almost alone again, enjoying the natural beauty. By 7 pm we were ready to go to bed. After a hearty local meal of fresh fried fish and noodles, we needed a long rest, having taken on the 20 km bike ride.
It was an exhausting day, but completely breathtaking and showed us the unique beauty of this outstanding national park. Tour buses aside, Taroko has a lot to offer the tourists willing to stay nearby and put a bit of work in.
Thanks Taroko. You were totally fabulous!