Kaohsiung city is just showing up on the travel radar and is finally getting the love it’s deserving of. Using the words hike and Kaohsiung together may seem a bit of a misnomer unless you are talking about climbing Monkey mountain, located within the city proper. If you have been reading up on this newest travel destination, there may be one thing you missed. Although Kaohsiung is one of the most densely populated cities in Taiwan, it also includes one of the least populated districts of Taiwan as well.
Maolin district is a short drive outside Kaohsiung city, in about an hour you can be transported to a place where time seems to have stood still. Rukai and Paiwan aboriginals call this area home and their handiwork clearly marks this area as theirs. Known for their stunning stacked slate homes, Maolin is one area you can get a look at this ancient building technique. It would take years to complete a single dwelling and would require the help of the entire village. A work of art when finished these dwellings are quite a sight to see.
Maolin is well known among the local population for being an overwintering site of four species of the Purple Crow butterfly, one of only two places in the world where you see this phenomenon. Maolin National Scenic area has a butterfly valley trail where you can hang out and see many butterflies first hand. The visitor center located right in the village has maps of the area in English and several other languages.
November through March is butterfly season and it’s best to arrive early in the morning for the chance of seeing the butterflies when they are first waking.
Expect to climb series of stairs and gently sloping paths wrapping high up into the mountain where if you are lucky, like we were, you will be rewarded with a sightings of not only butterflies but of soaring giant eagles. When you get your fill of the flittering beauties there are a number of magnificent waterfalls close by to see.
One of them is a 10-15 minute drive, Maolin Valley waterfall is a stunningly beautiful waterfall that has recently had all the paths to it rebuilt. The 1 km hike includes strolling along the river bank where you will see gigantic boulders piled high. Crossing two suspension bridges and an adorable round metal framework bridge.
Part of the hike will take you though a beautiful bamboo forest and true to the Taiwanese hiking style, you will be climbing endless flights of stairs. At the end of the journey you will be rewarded with a breath taking waterfall. For those that want to get up close and personal there are ropes so you can lower yourself down to the riverbank.
Bring a picnic lunch and eat sitting atop the giant rocks while listening to the gentle roar of the waterfall. If the temperature is right and you’re feeling game for it, jump in for a swim. Linger and take in all the sights and sounds, while at the same time you remind yourself that hiking is synonymous with Kaohsiung if you just look in the right place!
Linger and take in all the sights and sounds, while at the same time you remind yourself that hiking is synonymous with Kaohsiung if you just look in the right place!
There are some awesome Rukai homestay and camping options in this area. One of which is De En Gorge guesthouse. Scenic and authentic, clean facilities with some lovely hosts. Check out our Kaohsiung Hike tour if you would like to visit any of the places we have mentioned and drop us a line on our contact information page for any general questions about the area.