A deep trench between snow-capped mountains, the Taroko Gorge will come as a big surprise to anyone who comes to Taiwan expecting wall-to-wall skyscrapers. You can drive up it via a route carved along the foot of the mighty marble crags by the Japanese army at the end of World War II, but to make the most of the abundant local wildlife, trekking along one of the many waymarked trails in the area is the way to go.
Dense vegetation and clumps of hanging forest tumble down the cliffs, which shelter an estimated half of all the species of animals, birds, insects and plants present in Taiwan. For hikers, a wonderful trail winds up the valley, passing a series of Buddhist shrines, cascades, grottoes and tunnels, before reaching the famous ‘Water Curtain Cave’, in which streams of water pour through the ceiling.
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