China in a different way (Part 1) – Hiking or climbing stairs in the jungle of Taiwan
At the end of last year, Stefan Weindl, IBS expert in mountaineering, ski touring, road cycling and mountain biking, was looking for an exotic, warm, exciting travel destination that offers a wide variety of outdoor activities as well. At the end of October, he decided to go for Taiwan. Learn more about what the country has to offer in this exclusive travel report.
The untouched landscape of China
Taiwan (Repulic of China) is dominated by Chinese culture. However, the country and its people are extremely open-minded and you can find many influences from other Asian countries. You do not have to worry about communication problems. If you do not get on with English, the almost always free Wifi and a translation app will help.
The best time for going to Taiwan is September until November. In addition to that, it’s advisable to travel in spring, since the climate is not that extreme and the vegetation slowly awakens from March until May. But even in autumn, nature dominates the island. Taiwan is located in the subtropical and tropical climate zone and especially the middle altitudes are covered with jungle.
My journey took me around the island with the aim of getting to know as much as possible of the country: People, culture and, above all, nature. Due to the jungle, however, it is not that easy to freely move in nature.
Cresting the steep mountains
Hikes are only possible on established paths. There are hardly any level paths. Therefore, hiking in Taiwan can be described as climbing stairs. After the first 200 meters in altitude difference at the Elephant Mountain, you already stop counting stairs, as many more are waiting for you in the mountains.
From Taipei our journey took us along the east coast towards Taroko Gorge. This can be ideally explored with a scooter. The Zuhilu Old Trail which leads along steep cliffs is especially beautiful. Prior to walking on such famous trails in Taiwan, you have to obtain approval in advance. You only get entry to those trails if you know a person in Taiwan who can be designated as Emergency Coordinator or if you book a guided tour. However, you can enter less well-known trails and hikes without special permission. If you want to climb the highest mountain in South-East Asia, you’ll face a similar problem. Unfortunately, we only got a permit for Mount Jade Front Peak and therefore had to return at the Paiyun Lodge at 3400 m altitude, instead of climbing Mount Jade with 3952 m. In the mountains you will mostly encounter less experienced mountaineers with huge backpacks. Thus, it is not surprising that most of the hikes took us only about half of the specified duration.
When it comes to hiking, Taiwan has a lot to offer with its many hiking trails. However, if you want to enjoy this to the fullest, you should definitely take care of the approvals in advance. Find out what else Taiwan has to offer in part 2 of the travel report.
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