After leaving Qingshui Cliff, our next stop on our Taroko Gorge one day tour was the Shakadang Trail (砂卡礑步道).
Xi La An (西拉岸隨道) and Liwu River
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Before reaching the Shakadang Trail, we made another pit-stop at Xi La An (西拉岸隨道) to see the Liwu River.
At the Liwu River basin. The Liwu River runs for over 50 km and covers nearly 2/3 of the Taroko National Park, carving out the natural beauty of the Taroko Gorge over millions of years.
The red indicators on the pillars of the bridge are supposed to measure the water levels of the river! Unfortunately, in winter when we visited, the river has trickled to almost nothing.
This sight could potentially be much more beautiful in summer and fall when the water volume in the river is much higher. As it is now, we could only see vast expanse of the uncovered river bed.
On Way to Shakadang Trail
Going through Xi La An (西拉岸隨道) tunnel on our way to Shakadang Trail (砂卡礑步道).
Reached the carpark of the Shakadang Trail (砂卡礑步道) within a few minutes. By this time, this tourist spot was already crowded with people and vehicles. This was where the only restroom facilities in the vicinity were – very important, because the Shakadang Trail would take at least an hour to complete, provided that you walk fast.
The start of the Shakadang Trail, a 5 minutes walk away from the carpark. It begins by climbing a long winding set of stairs down to the Shakadang River valley.
Climbing down was no problem at all, but the climbing up after a long walk at the trail proved to be a test of our fitness.
At the base of the flight of stairs is the Shakadang River, which is unfortunately as dried up as the Liwu River.
Information panel on the Shakadang River Valley and the Shakadang Trail.
The part of the Shakadang trail (砂卡礑步道) that is open to visitors is about 1.5km one way, and a return trip on the trail will take approximately 1 -1.5 hrs, depending on your walking speed.
The entire trail is actually much longer, but most visitors had to turn back on reaching Wujianwu (5D cabin), because trekking past that point will require a permit.
Don’t know the name of this bridge, but its unmistakable engine red color serves as a landmark for us to mark the start of a very long walk.
And so we started on the trail. The Shakadang trail is built along the river cliff so visitors can easily observe both the rock formation and plant ecosystems beside the river valley.
One of the advantages of being short – I don’t get my head knocked on the low ceiling.
In fact, for most of the walk, we had to be careful of falling rocks and the low head clearance. Combined with the gravel ground which made walking difficult, this trail is definitely not for the elderly or the young.
The hike follows the crystal-clear Shakadang River as it winds through marble canyons and boulder-strewn flats. Apparently, it was best to view the Shakadang River in summer and fall where there is maximum water flow.
Looking back at where we started, the red bridge functioning as a landmark for us. It looked very near, but actually we had been walking for quite a while.
There are a number of stopping/resting points for visitors to appreciate the sparkling blue waters and stunning views of the cliff face.
At turning point of the Shakadang Trail is Wujianwu (5D Cabin) which is little more than a mini bazaar put up by the local tribe who lives in the area.
The history of Wujianwu.
The stalls are quite bare and sold primarily local handicrafts, very much like the ones we see in Bali.
On our way to Shakadang Trail, our friendly cab driver cum tour guide gave us multiple warnings against buying sausages (香腸）from the bazaar. Apparently, many of his passengers had eaten this and became ill!
Finally turning back at Wujianwu to take the return walk back! The return route was some what much easier, because we did not have to stop to take pictures.
It took us nearly an hour of walking at a moderately fast speed, with minimal photo stops to complete the return trip. Not a very good investment, in our opinion, because in winter, there was hardly any water in the river to see.
Leaving the Shakadang trail via the Shakadang Tunnel (砂卡礑隨道).
A reward for us for staying away from the sausages at Shakadang – lunch break!
We ordered local dishes of wild chicken and leaves of the Fosho (佛手) plant, the latter surprisingly was very good!
Join us next as we travel to our next stop at Taroko Gorge – the Eternal Spring Shrine (長春寺).
Special Deal by our Travel Partner KKDay
Enjoy the lovely mountain and sea vistas, as you tour the majestic Taroko Gorge and the beauty of the East Rift Valley of Taitung and Hualien, along Taiwan’s eastern seaboard. This tour will depart with even only one passenger, the shuttle visits Hualien’s bed and breakfast inns, so sit back and enjoy the ride!