A Breathtaking Ancient Trail

The Alangyi Ancient Trail (阿塱壹古道) is practically the only stretch of Taiwan’s coast that hasn’t been reached by modern highways. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)
The Alangyi Ancient Trail (阿塱壹古道) is practically the only stretch of Taiwan’s coast that hasn’t been reached by modern highways. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

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.

Spring and fall are the better seasons to hike Alanyi Ancient Tail. (Imaged; Julia Fu / Vision Times)

Spring and fall are the best seasons to hike the Alanyi Ancient Tail. (Image: Julia Fu / Vision 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.

Mudanwan is close to the starting point of Alanyi Ancient Tail at its southern end. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Mudan Bay is close to the starting point of the Alanyi Ancient Tail at its southern end. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

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.

Hikers can appreciate the spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean along the Alangyi Ancient Trail. (Image: Billy Shyu)

Hikers can appreciate the spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean along the Alangyi Ancient Trail. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

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.

The seashore along Alangyi Ancient Trail is full of smooth and rounded pebbles. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

The seashore along the Alangyi Ancient Trail is full of smooth and rounded pebbles. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

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.

This pristine trail is a north-south route stretching about 8.4 kilometers. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

This pristine trail is a north-south route stretching about 8.4 kilometers. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

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.

One of the few shaded spots near the starting point at the Trail's southern end. (Image: Julia Fu / Vision Times)

One of the few shaded spots near the starting point at the trail’s southern end. (Image: Julia Fu / Vision Times)

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.

There are many steep slopes along Alangyi Ancient Trail. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

There are many steep slopes along the Alangyi Ancient Trail. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

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.

 Guanyinbi (觀音鼻) is in the middle of the ancient trail, where hikers can take a rest while overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Guanyinbi (觀音鼻) is halfway along the ancient trail, where hikers can stop and rest while overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

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.

It's strenuous to hike along Alangyi Ancient Trail. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

It’s can be strenuous to hike along the Alangyi Ancient Trail. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

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.

It's strenuous to hike along Alangyi Ancient Trail. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

It can be strenuous to hike along the Alangyi Ancient Trail. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

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.

Hikers may like to pose with this sign to show that they have completed hiking on Alangyi Ancient Trail. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Hikers may like to pose next to this sign to show that they have completed the Alangyi Ancient Trail. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

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