Taroko Gorge – Part Three

So in the morning we left the hotel located in Tiansiang (roughly the mid of the gorges) and enjoyed the shaking Japanese suspended bridge.

Then, we followed the Liwu River (58.5km) to Changchun area and the Sakadang trail. So we moved toward East.

Liwu River is involved in the so particular shape of the area and its formation.

The Penglai Orogeny was caused by the collision of the Philippine Oceanic Plate and the Eurasian Continental Plate, 4 million years ago. At that time, thick layers of calcareous rock that had been raised from the marine depths during earlier orgenies were now gradually pushed high above the ocean surface to form lofty peaks.

During this period of (you can imagine) immense tectonic forces, the high pressures and temperatures of compression folded and metamorphosed the original rock (limestone) turning it to marble.

At present, this region is still being uplifted at the rate of 0.5cm a year!

The area has experienced both geologic uplifting and river erosion by the Liwu River.

This area, as you will see later, is unique for its marble gorge that forms hundreds of meters high, a phenomenon seldom found elsewhere in the world.

We stopped on the Changchun bridge with its hundred marble lion heads, like this one:

         

All the area as you know now, is full of marble. But do you know where the marble used for the lion heads come from?… China because cheaper! Funny, isn’t it? 🙂

The day was a little bit rainy, which explains the colors of the pictures.

From the bridge, we could see the Changchun Temple with its beautiful water falls:

         

There was some maintenance at that time…

On the left hand side, we could see the name, in red color, which means “Eternal Spring Shrine”:

         

It is a Buddhist Temple, carved into a memorial at the shrine of the names of more than 200 retired soldiers who died in accidents while constructing the Central Cross Island Highway (number 8 ) between 1956 and 1960.

The water fall you can see in the above previous picture, is tufa cascade about 20m high, formed from a karst spring near the Liwu River, in the garden of the temple. All the cliffs upstream are covered with tufa deposits.

From the bridge, we went down toward the Sakadang trail:

That is a view with my back leaning on the cliffs (supposed to be forbidden…):

Then, some pictures of the trail:

         

Beautiful, isn’t it?

         

The meaning of Sakadang (Shakadang) is Taroko language is “molar”, from the molars excavated during the establishment of the first communities.

The original name of the area is “Mysterious Valley”.

Have a look on the color of the water and the rocks:

The first picture also shows construction made to protect people from falling rocks. It looks like ancient Greek temples, right?

          

          

Beautiful!

No doubt, you noticed that the color of the water is blue – green. Not because the sky reflecting, but because the calcium carbonate contained in marble is dissolving into slightly acid water.

Then we drove back to west, following the Liwu River, until the Swallows Grotto.

It is a gigantic grotto of karst formation. During the spring and summer, hundreds of thousands of swallows fly in and out of the grotto, hence the name.

You can notice a lot of holes on the rocks. This is due to two factors: long-term erosion by underground water and constant wearing by the river and the impact of river-borne rocks. Evidence of this may be seen from stones which remain in the holes, which indicates the water and the holes were once at the same level.

         

Incredible…

See the water still falling from the holes:

          

          

          

Do you feel dizzy? 🙂

This one is from the grotto:

          

          

         

Walking lower:

Back view, and one more ancient “Greek temple” 🙂

         

A closer view:

         

From there, we drove back to the east in view to reach the Chingshui Cliffs, one of the most picturesque sightseeing locations in Taiwan.

To see the roaring waves of the Pacific Ocean down and the steep cliffs of the mountains are without any doubt, breathtaking!

Some pictures from the top:

         

         

         

No doubts, Mother Nature is certainly taking in charge!

Then we took the trail, made of 458 steps quite steep. Go down is a piece a cake but to go back…

Then, we arrive in heaven:

Water was not cold and the smell is much more salty compared to the western coast.

A lot of stones on the beach:

I just closed my eyes and listened. Roaring waves on the side and when the waves go back, rolling the stones, we can hear the music of the stones knocking each others…

Beautiful…

Than we went back to the top… The same 458 steps… Imagine 🙂

This area is the former Suhao highway closed since around 10 years because falling rocks and other disasters.

Have a look:

This rock just fell down a short time before…

It was time now for the last step of our one-day-tour.

We drove to Pulowan (Buluowan) recreational area, quite close to the swallows grotto.

In aboriginal language (Atayal) it means “echo”.

It was a little bit rainy so no easy to take pictures.

This area is the largest terrace of Taroko Gorge. Surrounded by mountains, green high mountains, it feels like we are in Switzerland… So beautiful and calm.

If you plan to take a rest for 3 or 4 days, to regenerate yourself, it is the place!

The hotel there is made of several small wooden houses, designed according aboriginal standards.

Do you know how to say “how are you” or “hi” (?) in Atayal?

Have a look:

Malusu!

🙂

Time now to drive back to our hotel.

Do not miss the last part of the trip.

To come next 🙂

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