Golden Grotto (黃金峽谷) river tracing [Taiwan Day 686: Swim and Tell - July 18, 2015] | luomujie blogspot

Golden Grotto (黃金峽谷) river tracing [Taiwan Day 686: Swim and Tell - July 18, 2015]

People were cheering. “Go Jerome!”. “You can do it!”, another one said. My heart beats very fast. My waterproof camera was recording everything what my eyes can see. I counted “1,2,3” and then I jumped into the water yelling as if I will never survive the big plunge. I thought I was going to die!

Jumping off from a three-floors high cliff was just one of our activities in my first ever Golden Grotto river tracing adventure. And it was not in Taipei! Everything happened in Hualien and I went there together with Kristine (Filipino), Gian (Filipino), Jason (Indonesian), Anissa (French) and Clara (French). Guess who guided us in the tour? It was roundTAIWANround.

Planning this activity was a group effort from selecting the travel agency that will guided us in our Golden Grotto (黃金峽谷) river tracing / river trekking adventure to the most convenient way to go to Hualien County. We boarded the last train going to Taitung from Taipei Main Station. Since all of the seats were already booked there were no seats to sat on but just the floor of the train. The three hour trip from Taipei to Hualien was exhausting but we don't have a choice. We have to be in Hualien Station at 7am.

For a package of NTD 2,300, roundTaiwanround gave us a whole-day tour at Golden Grotto. The fee includes the equipment, snacks, lunch, insurance and the taxi ride to our chosen accommodation in Hualien, the Liwu Hostel. With everything set my Travel Buddies and I embarked on a wet and wild adventure we will never forget. 

A wet suit, wet boots, a yellow helmet and a red life jacket were my only weapons against the strong current of the river. I also brought a set of batteries for my camera and I placed them on a resealable plastic bag. It was a good thing that the life jacket has a small pocket and I put my batteries there. Before the start of the trip, our tour guides checked first if our helmets and life jackets were fastened tightly. When everything was ok, the adventure of our lifetime started.

The waters to the Golden Grotto can be waist-deep but sometimes it will become deeper without you noticing that you're already floating. Care must be taken when crossing the river as the rocks are so slippery that you might lose your balance and hurt yourself. Freshwater fishes were also abundant on the river. Frogs, dragonflies and butterflies can also be seen around. A sign that the river is healthy and breathing. 

The real adventure started when we have to climb a big rock just to see the first lagoon. I took a video while my friends were climbing. Kristine slipped on the rocks while Jason was very happy posing for our tour guide's camera. Gian carried his dry pack bag on his back and sometimes he throws it into the water. He doesn't worry much since his dry pack bag can float in the water!

There were three waterfalls and we climbed the first two. Climbing the waterfalls was not an easy task. As the water gushes into your face, your hand seems to slip. No pain, no gain! My strong arms and my determination helped me reached the third waterfall. It's so high that it made me thought if it’s possible continue the adventure all the way to its top. The reddish color of the rocks indicates that the water from the falls is rich in dissolved metals.

photo courtesy of roundTAIWANround

We were very happy after that whole-day river trekking and I would love to do it again. A request from my friends in Academia Sinica to have a similar adventure is very much welcome. I will document everything from the first jump to the last climb and no secrets will be kept hidden because everybody knows that I will swim and tell.

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