DAY 1: From Visitor Center to Mount Liwu
The hiking trail begins right behind the Taroko Visitor center. Before entering the trail, you need to apply for a mountain permit in Taroko Police Station that is 100 meters away from trailhead. The process is quite easy since all you need to do is fill in your information and tell them who is your emergency contact in case of an emergency. Remember to bring your passport or at least a copy of it.
Dali Trail, the more challenging of the two trails, begins with a steep and narrow path which leads to an old cable car station. From the station, you can enjoy amazing views over the coastline and Hualien City. There you can also stop to marvel at the nature around you.
Sometimes you can spot spiders the size of your face that may look frightening but are not dangerous. You may also see venomous snakes. . If you see a big wasp, try not to move at all or move very slowly away from them. They’re especially aggressive in autumn because it’s their nesting season. When the weather is rainy, it is also good to wear gaiters to prevent getting bitten by leeches. Nature is close to you on this trail, but good preparation and prevention can reduce the chance of harm to a minimum. Bring a bottle of salt and some antihistamines if possible so you can enjoy the hike without too much worry.
Dali Trail continues 1.2 kilometers uphill until it meets Dekalun trail. The most difficult part is now over, and you can start enjoying amazing views of Taroko National Park. On that trail you can hear crickets singing in the trees and spot large colorful butterflies.. On the way, you have also an opportunity to meet local aborigines carrying their supplies. Ask them nicely, and they may sing some aboriginal songs for you.
After 3 hours of hiking the path leads you to small village of Dali. The original name of Dali is Hohos meaning ”the hiss of snakes” or ”place with many snakes”. It used to be home to an elementary school, but the village and the school closed in 1979. Now the site is used as a henhouse. Visitors can also find some other early buildings such as a church and an old police substation in Dali. Dali is good place for a lunch break since you can enjoy stunning views over mountains.
After Dali, you can continue onward to Datong village via Shakadang Logging Road. Shakadang Logging road is flat and easy to walk along. You can enjoy more amazing views over the valleys and mountains from here. If it’s rainy, you might be able to spot a rainbow in the valley below. There are also several small streams along the path where you can refresh yourself. Remember to use a water filter when drinking from them!
After an hour and a half the hiking path will come to a crossroads. Take a right turn and after 30 minutes you’ll arrive at the foot of Mount Liwu where you can stay in a B&B owned by Dadou. Dadou has been living there for decades and people usually call him “chief” of Truku tribe. There is a stunning view from Dadou’s house over the mountains. Definitely worth all the hiking!
If you don’t want to stay in B&B, you can pitch your tent near the house. You can prepare dinner while watching the sun setting behind mountains and enjoying the moment under a clear starry sky. After dinner, fall asleep listening to the sound of nature whilst breathing in the fresh mountain air.
DAY 2: Amazing sunrise on Mount Liwu
From Dadous house it is only a 20 minute hike to the top of Mount Liwu. The hidden path goes through a small bamboo forest until it reaches the top. It is necessary to wear a headlamp if you’re going to hike there when it’s still dark. On the top you can cook some coffee and wait for the sunrise. The view is truly amazing, since you can see over the coastline and all the way to Hualien City. Make sure you wake up to catch the 5 am sunrise over the Pacific Ocean!
After having a breakfast in the camp you begin your hike back. Consider taking a longer route back along TongLi and then Shakadang trails. Part of the trail from Datong to 3D Cabin is currently closed due to typhoon damage. Remember to take precaution while descending. The path could be very slippery if it’s raining. Use a trekking pole if you’ve got one! Less experienced hikers should take the same route back to Taroko National Park Visitor Center using the Dekalun Trail. It takes approximately 2-3 hours to get back to the Visitor Center.
After the hike you’ll be tired but extremely happy! Datong Dali is an amazing experience for those who love to hike!