2015 was a great year for myself and for my waterfall guide. I fell a little short of my goal to visit my 100th waterfall in Taiwan but I should reach that goal in February this year. I have now visited 13 out of Richard’s 20 favorite waterfalls in Taiwan but I still have a personal list of 30-40 more waterfalls to visit. More importantly I traveled outside of Taiwan twice this year on waterfall/hiking trips. In February I went to Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo and in June I went to Bali. Of course I ventured far from the typical path in Bali and visited 13 waterfalls in 10 days. Bali’s waterfalls were amazing and it was really difficult to choose only 3 for the list below.
The list below only includes new waterfalls that I visited this year. One focus this year (and next) has been on revisiting some of my favorites (like Lover’s Gorge) because they are my favorites but they aren’t included. Another focus has been doing more hikes and the other best places that Taiwan has to offer. I am hoping to do at least 3-4 of Taiwan’s high mountain hikes this year. A 3 day hike of Beidawushan is a certainty. Other hikes could include Jiaming Lake (Taitung), Shuiyang (Nantou), Wuling Sixiu (Taichung) or Qilai North Peak (Nantou).
Fenghuang Waterfall was my last new waterfall of the year. We visited on New Year’s Eve.
I am hoping to go on four international trips this year so next year’s competition for this waterfall list will be even tougher. In addition to that I have some great waterfall trips in Taiwan planned (like Golden Grotto and Manyueyuan). In February I will travel to North Sumatra and visit Sipisopiso Waterfall and Sibolangit Waterfall. I am very close to booking a ticket to Lombok in March/April to climb Mt Rinjani (at least to the crater – seasonal weather issues) and Tiu Kelep Waterfall. In June I will hopefully be making a trip home to Minnesota and there are some great waterfalls (Gooseberry Falls) in Minnesota. My October/November trip is a little undecided but the most likely destination choices are the Philippines (including TBEX Asia), Japan (anywhere and everywhere is on my list) or northern Vietnam (Sapa and Ban Gioc/Detian Waterfall). If I can actually pull off this busy schedule (I also work full time and run a business) then I might have to expand next year’s list to a top 20. I also might have to find a sponsor, sell plasma and/or cash in all of the worthless baseball cards that I have in my mother’s closet.
2015’s best waterfalls
- I had known about a possible waterfall near Majia for several years but I never took a trip until January this year. Part of the reason for this was that no information existed about this waterfall on the internet until my friend Asher visited it (many times). I finally visited and it instantly became my favorite in southern Taiwan in addition to being the #3 most viewed waterfall page at my Taiwan’s Waterfall Guide. As an added bonus there is an old slate house village (Jiupaiwan) located near the falls that you can walk around in.
Click for directions to Shalawan Waterfall, Pingtung, Taiwan
2. Langanan Waterfall is one of Sabah’s most impressive waterfalls (#2 on My Sabah’s top ten list) and one of the highlights from my February trip to Malaysian Borneo. The waterfall is located on the eastern flank of Mount Kinabalu and is a slightly challenging half day hike. The trail is a lush example of what Borneo’s rainforests would look like if they were untouched by the plantations and logging. Lupa Masa (link) is a great eco-camp near Poring Hot Springs that allows you to fully experience the rainforest.
3. Lambir Hills National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia was one of my favorite hikes of the year. The park is located outside of Miri and is a waterfall lovers paradise. There are 6 different waterfalls and one peak to hike to but hiking to all of the waterfalls (and the peak) in one day can only be done by the strongest hikers (25+ km in heat with a 5pm park exit) though. Sometime in the next 5 years I plan on returning to Sarawak to visit the Mulu Pinnacles and I will definitely take an extra day or two visiting Lambir Hills National Park again.
4. One of my favorite forgotten areas in Taiwan is Zengwen Reservoir. Many people visit the Zengwen Reservoir Recreation Area and drive the road to Dapu (one of the best motorcycle rides in Taiwan) but other than that very little of the rest is explored. Asher and I tried to find one of Richard Saunders’ 20 favorite waterfalls 2 years ago but we got lost (terrible directions from a local) and ironically found the correct valley but didn’t explore far enough. I went back this year with better maps (and ignored the terrible directions from a different local) and found an incredible and almost never visited waterfall.
5. Later that weekend I joined up with Richard Saunders and a group of Taipei Hikers on one of the most interesting trips of the year. We hiked down to the river on a barely used fisherman trail and swam across the river to the other side of a flood control dam. We walked up a fish ladder and then had to crawl through a 1 meter tall hole in the dam. Continuing upstream we found many fossils (shells) in broken up river rock before arriving at an amazing swimming hole with multiple small waterfalls. Lianyun Waterfall and several others are located up a side stream. It isn’t the biggest but there is something special about the perfect pool in the perfect forest.
6. Melanting Waterfall was the highlight of my favorite part of Bali. Munduk and Melanting are a pair of beautiful villages located just east of Bali’s 3 lakes region at a slightly cooler elevation of 700 meters. There are at least 3 nice waterfalls in the area, a nice hiking trail between them and many nice guesthouses and restaurants with picturesque views of Gunung Batukaru.
7. The best thing about Bali was that so many great places were so close together and the road infrastructure made travel very efficient. In 11 days I visited 13 waterfalls, 10 temples, hiked Gunung Batur, went dolphin watching (as disappointing as the reviews are) and traveled with my sister. Aling Aling Waterfall is a stunning waterfall in Bali’s waterfall rich north central region. The main waterfall is the most impressive but there are 3 smaller waterfalls downstream that are perfect for swimming at (local guide required for swimming).
8. Sekumpul isn’t the most famous waterfall in Bali but it is the most spectacular. It falls close to 100 meters in multiple streams from allegedly multiple sources. As an added bonus Lemukih Waterfall is located on the same hike (different stream) and you experience a 360 degree waterfall where you can experience multiple different branches that surround you. Both waterfalls are great places to swim.
9. Changlong Waterfall was once a popular destination near the Shaonian Stream Recreation Area. It was most famous for its hot spring but there were also two great waterfalls. In 2009 Typhoon Morakot destroyed the hot spring, the lower waterfall and the entire hiking trail but the upper waterfall survived. It is a short but rocky hike up to the rarely visited waterfall.
10. Maolin Waterfall was another waterfall trail completely wiped out by Typhoon Morakot. I tried finding this waterfall in 2012 and walked up the river to a small waterfall that was impassable. In 2013 they built a new 27M NT trail back to the waterfall. The new trail has two suspension bridges and leads to one of the best waterfalls in southern Taiwan. This is just one of 4 great waterfalls in Kaohsiung County’s Maolin Valley.