Monday, October 10, 2016

Wufengchi Waterfalls (五峰旗瀑布) [Travel in Taiwan 161009: Falls Witness (Easy Hike)]



Which place in Taiwan are you going to visit during a rainy day? Whether it is a light drizzle or a heavy downpour, this country will always have an interesting place to see. However, a lot of people would just stay inside their homes to keep themselves dry. Others would opt to have some indoor activity like visiting museums and eating good food. These recreation options sound great but the continuous rain should not stop every person in Taiwan from doing outdoor activities. I knew of a place that is perfect during the rainy days and it is Taroko Gorge. Its deep valley look different whenever it rains on this National Park and I was thinking to visit this place. I heard that during the typhoon season water on the gorge becomes emerald in color. But Taroko National Park is far from the capital and I have to look for another tourist spot to visit. I want place that is perfect for a daytrip and not much far away from Taipei. Eureka! Something came into my mind and it was Wufengchi Scenic Area.


Jiaoxi Bus Station

The tourist spot has a three-tier waterfall called the Wufengchi Waterfalls and it is located in the mountains of Jiaoxi District in Yilan. It is so high and considered as one of the crown jewels of the province. How to get here? Just board Bus 1572 from Taipei City Hall Bus Station for a one-way fare of only NTD 90. Alight at either the Jiaoxi Bus Station or Jiaoxi train station and wait for the Taiwan Tour Bus (the bus number is 111) going to Wufengchi Scenic Area. The Jiaoxi Bus Station is the second to the last stop of the Bus 1572 route and most people would alight here. If you are lucky, Bus 111 might be waiting there for passengers. Just ask first the bus driver if the vehicle would be going to “Wufengchi” or not. The tourist mini-bus looks the same with other public bases in Jiaoxi so better ask first before sitting inside the vehicle.



Taiwan Tour Bus Jiaoxi Route (Bus 111)

I had been to Jiaoxi before in Taiwan Day 630 (Cloudy with a Chance of Rainfall) so I was already familiar at the area around the train station and I decided to alight near to it. The bus stop for the Taiwan Tour Bus is beside it and just like what I said the buses here look the same. As each bus makes a stop and it opened its door, I had to tell the driver “Wufengchi”. A reply of “mei you” means that the bus would not go to the scenic spot. It took three or four buses before the official Taiwan Tour Bus came at the bus stop. I asked the drivers because I want to be sure or else I would be in big trouble.




The sound of gushing water from a creek in Wufengchi Scenic Area welcomed me upon my arrival at the place. The Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau predicted a 70% to 80% chance of heavy rainfall in Jiaoxi and I was very lucky because it was not raining. I went near the creek and the sight of its waters made me more excited in seeing the waterfalls.






The way down to the creek was closed.


A park map and some markers help me locate my destination. I walked along the road and it was like following the source of the creek. The body of water was being fed by artificial swimming pools where the land abruptly uplifts and continue again as a creek again creating a waterfall. Previous bloggers who had been here told that visitors can dip their body on the pools. Unfortunately, the stairs leading down to the creek was closed to prevent any swimming activity.

I saw this marker ...
and made a hike...
until I saw these shops.

The Wufengchi waterfalls has three tiers.  The one on the upper right corner was the last waterfall  that I visited.

The water here is coming from the first tier/lowest level of the Wufengchi waterfall.

You know when you are at entrance of the trail when you see vendors selling different kinds of food and souvenirs. There was also a Chinese painting or a sort of a map that illustrates the whereabouts of the tiers of the Wufengchi waterfall. Although the descriptions were written in Chinese, I was able to understand what the characters say. 




Kids and parents while having fun at the lowest tier of the watefall.
a close-up of the first tier
the second tier of the Wufengchi waterfall
Can you see the viewing deck? Visitors can climb there to take pictures.



It was hard to get a clear picture of the second tier. Its splash creates an artificial rain in the area causing a blur in my photos.

But at least I managed to have a selfie!



There were a lot of people on the base of the first tier. Kids, parents and couples dipped their feet on the cool waters amidst the danger of slipping in the rocks. It was fun to watch them and I got tempted to have my feet wet. The second tier was very near and even before I reached the falls I already heard the sound of its waters. It was pouring heavily and every visitor became wet with its splash.

The gate to the uppermost tier of the Wufengchi waterfall

Unfortunately, the way to the third tier of the waterfall was closed. A small gate prevents visitors from entering and it warned trespassers of the danger of falling rocks. But like a true adventurer, I ignored the warnings and was able to pass through the small gate. There was a space on its side which made it easy for me to enter the forbidden trail.




Yilan plain


layers of Szeleng sandstone
the fallen rock together with the missing portion of the guardrail
This portion of the cliff wall had become a waterfall. I was just lucky that it wasn't raining.

It was really a big risk to enter the area. The trail was no longer maintained and there were fallen trees. Nets wrapped around the cliff prevents further erosion of the soil but it wasn't enough. As I climbed higher, I noticed the Yilan plain from afar. I encountered layers of sandstone along the way until a big fallen rock shocked me. I looked above on the cliff wall. A portion of the trail had already transformed into a waterfall! Luckily, there was no water flowing down but I slowly walked on that area because the guardrail was already missing. The trail was built on the side of the cliff and any wrong move would lead to my death.

the walkway with dripping waters

Looking back, the roof of the walkway was covered with rocks.


seeing the uppermost tier of the Wufengchi waterfall for the first time
the uppermost tier of the Wufengchi waterfall



Before I reached my destination, I had to used my umbrella to protect myself from dripping water under a covered walkway which was a roof supported by metal columns. I was almost near to the third tier of the waterfall when I heard its waters. Excitement filled my heart as I made my first glimpse on Jiaoxi's famous attraction. It was too high and very stunning. I went near to it and the viewing platform was too slippery that I had to walk very slowly. The heavy rains in the mountains of Yilan brought so much water to Wufengchi waterfalls that I could no longer see its five peaks.

Warning!

There was a short trail to get nearer to the waterfall but I did not risk my life anymore. The probability of falling rocks were higher here and I just enjoyed the scenery from the viewing platform. Drops of water were falling the sky until I noticed that it was no longer coming from the waterfall. Rain had started to fall from the sky! I made one final look to the body of water and left the area immediately. 

second/middle tier
uppermost tier

I went home feeling happy about what I experienced in Wufengchi Scenic Area. It was predicted to rain heavily but it did not happen. I got mesmerized by the beauty of one of Jiaoxi’s top tourist attraction and even hiked the forbidden trail to see to its third tier. What an amazing experience! I saw the Wufengchi waterfalls and became its falls witness.
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