Datong Dali Trail – a beautiful hike to tribal villages
Datong and Dali are two remote villages that are home to the indigenous Truku people. Located over Taroko Gorge at an elevation of over 900 meters, the villages are one of the last places for people to experience the traditional aboriginal way of living in Taiwan. The villagers lead a life completely without electricity and modern conveniences such as cell phones, refrigerators, and can ony be reached on foot.
In 1979, the Taiwanese government decided to move villagers from the mountains to an area near Taroko Terrace. Despite being told to relocate, many could not leave their farms behind. As such, there are now two families living in Dali and more than ten families in Datong. Recently Taroko National Park Headquarters has started to promote eco-tourism in the park, and many of these villagers have joined the program in an effort to integrate local ecological and natural attractions into their indigenous life and in the process conserve their cultural heritage. The success of ecotourism in Taroko relies on the joint effort of the government, villagers and visitors to the park.
Yayku’s Homestay 椰果的家
tel. 0976 075 031
Yayku’s Homestay is the first house you see on Shakadang Logging Road after arriving to Datong village. Turn right onto a small road, and you will be welcomed by some lovely cats. Price per night is NTD 1000 and includes a bed, breakfast and dinner for one, bamboo rice, and hot showers
Make sure you make a reservation at least one week before you set off. Most of the villagers have no cell phone reception in the mountains so it’s impossible to host you if they’re already in the mountains or do not have enough supplies to prepare food for you. No deposit is required to make a reservation, but please remember to cancel if any changes occur.
Dadou’s Homestay 達道的家
tel. 0963 258 478
The only homestay at the foot of Mt. Liwu, run by the 87 year old chief. Per night is NTD 1200 and includes a bed, breakfast and dinner for one, and hot showers.
Rainbow House is located in Datong village after Yayku’s Homestay. Price per night is NTD 1000 and includes a bed, breakfast and dinner for one, bamboo rice, and hot showers. The roof painted with rainbow colors, so it’s very easy to recognize. Campground charges NTD 300 for each tent.
- The only way to reach the villages is to go by foot along the trails inside Taroko National Park.
- Phones don’t work up in the mountains.
- It can get quite chilly so remember to pack enough warm clothes.
- If you’re not staying in a B&B, remember to bring enough food.
- It is recommended to bring some antihistamine with you in case you get stung by venomous wasps.
- Bring at least 2 liters of water if the weather is hot. There is a water tank behind Dali Church and natural spring water along the Shakadang Logging Road. You should also bring a water filter and stove to boil water.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE TRAILS
⦁ You can start from Dekalun Trail (for beginners) or the Dali Trail (for experienced hikers) built by villagers. Both paths are steep, and it will take a lot of strength to climb up. Dekalun Trail is well-designed and consists of zigzagging stairs (approximately 1400 steps) and an ascending pathway made of stones. It also provides resting platforms and lookout spots. Dali Trail will be more natural and also steeper compared to Dekalun Trail. It will pass a cable car station which is still used as the main way of transporting supplies to the villages. If you’re an experienced hiker, consider taking the Dali Trail going up and the Dekalun trail coming down. It will be more challenging, but it will be more fun and bring you closer to nature.
⦁ Dali and Datong are linked by the TongLi Trail and Shakadang Logging Road. The former is a narrow mountain path and is not maintained nowadays. The latter was built for logging in earlier times and is wide, flat, and easy to walk on.
⦁ It’s also possible to take Shakadang Trail. It is smooth, and visitors can enjoy the clear Shakadang Creek and beautiful layered marble stones on the way. After passing 3D Cabin towards Datong, the landform becomes steep, wet, and there are bushes in the way that will challenge visitors’ strength. The trail from 3D Cabin to Datong is currently closed due to typhoon damage. Be very careful in finding your way and when passing the slippery slopes. Using a walking pole is highly recommended!
⦁ If the weather is clear enough, you might have a chance to see the Pacific Ocean from the top of Mount Liwu. Try to get up as early as possible. The time of sunrise in summer-time is between 5–5:30 am, winter-time between 6–6:30 am. Check the time of sunrise on the day you depart. If you don’t feel confident hiking in low light conditions, consider doing the trail with a guide.
WHAT TO PACK?
- Passport or copy of it (for mountain entry permit)
- Water (at least 1.5–2 L)
- Snacks and food
- Mosquito repellent
- Walking pole
- Hiking boots
- Gaiters to prevent leeches
- Rain jacket
- Plastic bags
- Warm clothes
- Quick dry clothes
- Toiletries and towel
- Medicine and a first aid kit including some antihistamine
- Head lamp
- Power bank
- Waterproof cover for backpack
- Tent, sleeping bag and mattress for camping
HOW TO GET THERE?
The cheapest way to get to Taroko Gorge from Hualien is by public bus. Buses depart from the orange bus station next to the train station on left side as you walk out of the main exit.
The earliest bus from Hualien leaves at 7 am. Get off at Taroko Visitor Center, and get your mountain entry permit at the police station. The last bus departs from Taroko Visitor Center for Hualien at 5:20 pm. Because the bus system changes depending on weather and road conditions, his schedule may change. Make sure to get a copy of the timetable from the bus station before you leave. A one way ticket to Taroko Visitor Center costs 79NTD
Latest on-line bus schedule check here:
You can also use your own vehicle or or a rental car and park it in front of Taroko Visitor Center.
SUGGESTED HIKING ROUTES
Read our blog post for more detail info!
Route A (18 km) – DatongViallage Day Return
Taroko Visitor Center – Dali Trail (3.4 km, 150 min) – Dali Village – Tong-Li Trail (4 km, 120 min) – Datong Village – Shakadang Logging Road (6.4 km, 120 min) – Dali Village – Dekalun Trail (3.9 km, 120 min) – Taroko Visitor Center
Check our public GPS track on-line
Route B (25 km) – Datong Village plus Mt. Liwu Day Return
Taroko Visitor Center – Dekalun Trail (3.9 km, 150 min) – Dali Village – Shakadang Logging Road (3.5 km, 80 min) – Liwu Mountain Trail (2.2 km, 50 min) – Liwu Mountain View Point –Liwu Mountain Trail (2.2 km, 30 min) –Shakadang Logging Road (2.9 km, 60 min) – Datong Village – Shakadang Logging Road (6.4 km, 120 min) – Dali Village – Dekalun Trail (3.9 km, 120 min) – Taroko Visitor Center
Check our public GPS track on-line:
Route C (12,5 km)
Taroko Visitor Center – Dali Trail (3.4 km, 150 min*) – Dali Village – TongLi Trail (1 km, 30 min) – TongLi Trailhead to 3D Cabin (2 km, 90 min) – 3D Cabin – Shakadang Trail (3 km, 60 min) – 5D Cabin – Shakadang Trail (1.5 km, 30 min) – Shakadang Trail Head– Shakadang Tunnel, (1 km, 15 min) – Taroko Visitor Center