Nestled between Pingtung County (屏東縣) in southern Taiwan and Taitung County (台東縣) in the east, the Alangyi Ancient Trail (阿塱壹古道) used to be an important route for aboriginal tribes for hunting, migrating, and trading goods between the eastern part and the southwestern plains of Taiwan in ancient times.
Alangyi is derived from Aljungic, the name of the place in the Paiwan language (排灣語). This pristine trail is a north-south route stretching about 8.4 kilometers and is practically the only stretch of Taiwan’s coast that hasn’t been reached by modern highways due to environmental concerns.
Please watch the following video of the Alangyi Ancient Trail:
The trail can be hiked from both directions, but some said it may be better to start from the south so as to see the best views at the conclusion. It usually takes about four hours to complete, depending on the pace of the group.
As this ancient trail is in an environmental reserve, visitors should apply for group admissions beforehand. Moreover, it is mandatory to hire local tour guides at the cost of NT$3,000 (US$10) per group composed of less than 20 persons. For larger groups, more tour guides are needed depending upon the size. However, only 300 people at most are allowed to enter the reserve per day.
Besides providing an interpretation of the scenery and ecology along the way, tour guides are also responsible for protecting the safety of hikers and providing first aid if needed.
Most tour guides are from aboriginal tribes around the reserve, and they happily share interesting stories about the aboriginal life in this part of Taiwan.
Along the trail, hikers can take in the vibrant natural beauty of steep hills, thick jungles, high ridges, deep valleys, and the amazing pebbled seashore. It’s great to enjoy the breathtaking coastline and the Pacific Ocean from the top of the hills as well.
The sizes of pebbles in the stretches of the seashore vary from large to small according to the distance from their river sources in Hualien County. As the seashore is full of smooth and rounded pebbles of all sizes, it is stunningly beautiful. Still, it can be strenuous to walk on the rugged seashore under the baking sun.
Hikers may spot rare coconut crabs on the trail and endangered green sea turtles in the Pacific Ocean if they are lucky enough. It is believed that Alangyi is the only place on Taiwan’s main island where these creatures can be sighted.
The highest point along the Alangyi Ancient Trail is Guanyinbi (觀音鼻), where hikers can stop and rest while overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean, as well as the breathtaking seashore.
In addition to difficult trail conditions, it can be quite hot in the summer as there are very few shaded areas along the way. It can also be cold and windy in the winter due to the strong northeast monsoon (東北季風). Consequently, one needs to be in relatively good shape for the hike.
Although weather conditions may be better in the spring and fall, it is still challenging, as hikers not only have to go up and down very steep and slippery narrow slopes, but also walk on rugged pebbled seashores. Therefore, hikers need to bring at least four bottles of water per person to avoid getting heatstroke during the hot weather.