North Sumatra’s Waterfalls

During Chinese New Year I traveled to North Sumatra for my second trip to Indonesia. Last June I traveled to Bali but avoided the popular beaches along the southern coast and instead spent my time exploring small roads. In Bali I found 14 waterfalls, visited 10 temples and climbed a volcano and loved it. This time I picked something a little more off of the beaten path although rural Bali is not at all like the touristy parts.  In Sumatra I only visited 6 waterfalls but they were some of the best ones in all of Indonesia.

See my previous post on Bali’s Waterfalls

Sipisopiso Waterfall was of course the first thing that I knew about North Sumatra but as I researched the area I found a lot of other great waterfalls. I found travel logistics difficult and a lot of the roads are in terrible shape but North Sumatra is full of cool places (if you can get to them). The food was good, the people were really nice, I felt safe (didn’t stay in Medan) and the natural beauty was incredible. My biggest complaint is a complete and total lack of garbage/recycling programs. There were a few collection areas in Berastagi but throughout the countryside people either pitched their garbage in road ditches or burned it on the side of the road. A few of the top sights were well developed for tourism but many sights required a lot of effort from tourists to get to. I have many places on my to do list that either would have taken too long to get to or the roads were in questionable shape. This area has a lot of potential though and I look forward to returning in a few years.

Here are a few basic travel observations for North Sumatra. Buses travel all over North Sumatra but are slow. Private cars and drivers are available for hire and can be arranged through your guesthouse. The driest season to travel to Sumatra is Dec to April but they still average 100+ mm’s of rain every month. It rained almost every day during my trip in February. Most guesthouses are private rooms with shared or private bathrooms. I saw a few large palm oil plantations in North Sumatra but I saw mostly vegetable and fruit farms. According to a local the big palm oil plantations are in the southern part of Sumatra. The National Parks have been a success but there are still problems with poaching and illegal logging but things seem to be improving.

I am hoping to travel to Lombok (hike Mt Rinjani and some waterfalls) in May but I am not sure which Indonesian region to travel after that (in 2017). Yogyakarta and Borobudur? Mt Bromo and Madakaripura Waterfall? Flores and Kelimutu? Something strange like Sulawesi? I have a year to think about another destination but does anyone have any advice for a waterfall focused trip?

1. Sipisopiso Waterfall was at least 90% of the reason that I chose to travel to North Sumatra this year. Not only is it over 100 meters high but it flows out of a cave near the top of the cliff. From the main viewpoint visitors are able to turn around and also see Lake Toba. Those wanting to get closer to the waterfall can descend over 600 stairs to the base of the waterfall. Of course they will have to walk back up all of those stairs.

Click for directions to Sipisopiso Waterfall

2. Pelaruga Waterfall was a nice waterfall but at some point a tree was washed downstream and ended up directly in the middle of the waterfall. It has been there so long that it is more commonly referred to as Tongkat (Bahasa for stick) Waterfall by everyone. It is an adventure to reach but it is definitely worth it.

Click for directions to Pelaruga Waterfall

3. We found Sidompak Waterfall completely by accident. We knew virtually nothing about Tongging Village other than it was right next to Sipisopiso Waterfall and Lake Toba. We found Tongging to be a stunningly beautiful village surrounded by fjord like valleys that taper off into Lake Toba. We called Tongging ‘A place that isn’t a place yet’ and expect this sleepy village to transform into a tourist town in the future. But we visited Tongging before that happened.

Just by chance we stayed at the Wisma Sibayak Guesthouse and they had photos of a nearby waterfall on their wall and it wasn’t Sipisopiso Waterfall. We asked about it and not surprisingly they offered to find us a guide to the waterfall. We discussed whether or not we actually needed a local guide and we were extremely glad that we chose to hire one. There isn’t a trail and it is really challenging to make it to the waterfall even though you know where the waterfall is. I love finding places like this where there is nearly no information available on the internet in any language.

Click for directions to Sidompak Waterfall

4. Sikulikap Waterfall is a thunderous waterfall near Berastagi. The best part is that it is really easy to reach using public transportation. The downside is that most of the hike follows the valley directly below the Penatapen Restaurants and it is difficult to escape the noise and trash from the restaurants.

Click for directions to Sikulikap Waterfall

5. Ponot Waterfall is Indonesia’s tallest waterfall at 250 meters and it impressively plunges over a cliff wall. I am not completely convinced it is a natural waterfall though. I think Ponot Waterfall is actually a diversion tunnel for the upstream Siguragura Dam. Siguragura Waterfall is officially considered as Indonesia’s tallest waterfall but I believe that it is permanently dry just downstream of the dam.

Click for directions to Ponot Waterfall

6. Dua Warna (Two Color) Waterfall is perhaps one of the most beautiful waterfalls that I have seen. It is only about 30-40 meters tall but it falls into a brilliant opaque blue pool that I haven’t seen before. Not only that but it is an outstanding hike through a beautiful forest and there is a second waterfall falling into the valley 30 meters away.

Click for directions to Dua Warna (Two Color) Waterfall

Other waterfalls that showed up in my research and are on my list for my next trip to North Sumatra. This page (in Bahasa) is a great resource for all of the sights in North Sumatra.

Lae Mbilulu Waterfall

Lae Une Waterfall

Tonduhan Waterfall

Pelangi Waterfall

Sampuren (Teroh Teroh) Waterfall

Bah Biak Waterfall

Lau Berte Waterfall 

Batu Lobang Waterfall

Nionggang Waterfall

Situmurun Waterfall

Tinggi Raja – not a waterfall but similar to Pammukale in Turkey

Great Bloggers – My 2016 Waterfall to do list

It wasn’t easy finding 10 different (and active) bloggers that have been to waterfalls in Taiwan that I haven’t been to.  This isn’t my full to do list for this year but these are 10 more great ones that I hope to add to my waterfall guide.  Some of these will be more of a challenge than others because of where they are located but this year I will be putting on a lot of kilometers in cars, motorcycles (bicycle?), trains, buses and maybe even a plane ride (Hualien?).

Check out my waterfall guide

One thing that I discovered while researching this blog is just how many excellent bloggers are covering Taiwan.  I follow a lot of bloggers in Taiwan (and everywhere) but there are still so many that haven’t shown up on my radar.  This is by no means a comprehensive list of bloggers but I would love to know some of your favorites.  I would really love to know of bloggers that have been to waterfalls that I haven’t been to yet.  You can check my site for all of the waterfalls that I have been to and I will include a list of some additional notable ones at the bottom of this post.  I am certain that there are some great bloggers that have been to waterfalls that I haven’t been to.

Check out previous great bloggers blogs

Great Bloggers – Waterfalls

Great Bloggers – Australia/NZ

Great Bloggers – Asia

None of the photos below are mine.  I contacted each blogger prior to blogging for permission to use a photo and link to their blog.  I encourage you to visit their sites to see more of their great work.

  1. Asher and I have been exploring southern Taiwan together for the last 2 years.  He has a little bit of a different style than I do and the only thing that will keep him out of the water are the recent cold temps.  This spectacular photo captured him jumping off of Lingjiao Waterfall in Pingxi a few months ago.  He has finally started blogging and has an excellent waterfall guide for Taiwan.  You can check it out at followxiaofei.com

Click here for directions to Lingjiao Waterfall

2. Emily has since left Taiwan and she is now blogging her adventures in Mexico.  At the time I wasn’t aware of Fenghuang Waterfall in Chaiyi but it has been on my to do list for almost one year.  It has been nicknamed 1000 step waterfall due to the many stairs that need to be walked down.  You can follow her travels at everythingisgolden.wordpress.com.

Click to view the blog post at her site

3. I loved my trip to Yilan last year (11/2014) and was able to add 5 great waterfalls to my site.  Houdongkeng Waterfall is another nice one that Thomas added to his blog.  Yilan is a bit tricky to travel to from Kaohsiung but it is pretty amazing and I should figure out how to make another trip up there.  You can follow his blog at randomibis.wordpress.com.

Click to view the full post at his site

4.  In all honesty very few serious hikers travel all the way to Wuling Farm just for Taoshan Waterfall.  There just happens to be a really nice waterfall on one of the best high mountain hikes in Taiwan.  The Wuling Sixiu is part of the Sheipa (Snow Mountain) National Park system and features 4 of Taiwan’s top 100 peaks.

Martin Rubli has an extensive list of highly detailed high mountain hikes on his site and is a great resource for those planning high mountain trips in Taiwan.  I have tentative plans to do this trip with Taiwan Adventures in April so hopefully I can check this waterfall (and the other 4 peaks) off of my list.  You can follow his site at rubli.info

Click to view the full post on his site

5.  Dajianshan is a nice hike with several waterfalls east of Taipei.  In addition to posting about Hidden Places in Taiwan, Tom is an outstanding artist that draws aerial views of cities.  You can follow him on FB (here) or on his site – overthecity.asia

Click to view the full post on his site

 6.  Fengmei Waterfall is at the very end of long road in Miaoli County.  I completely underestimated just how long it would take to get back there two years ago on a trip to Miaoli and Hsinchu.  I haven’t had a chance to return but will have to schedule another trip to Luzhang this summer.  A Conscious Venture went on a great river tracing trip back to the waterfall but there is also a 40 minute hiking trail back there.  You can follow her at aconsciousventure.com

Click to view the full post on her site

7. Richard Saunders is in the midst of publishing his 7th book (2 out of print) on travel in Taiwan.  One of his hobbies is finding hidden places and especially waterfalls.  Golden Grotto (not exactly unknown) is one of the top river traces in Taiwan and has been on my to do list for a couple of years.  Travel logistics (Kaohsiung to Hualien) have prevented me from making the trip but this year I will have Fridays off and it will be a lot easier.

Richard has been nearly everywhere in Taiwan and his blogs, guidebooks and group trips have been immensely valuable for my own adventures.  His FB hiking group (Taipei Hikers) has grown to over 3000 members with 10-15 hiking trips being led each month by a variety of great hike leaders.  It is free to participate in any of the hikes (space is limited on weekend hikes) and you can follow his blog at taiwandiscovery.wordpress.com

Click to view the full post on his site

8.  Yinhe Waterfall is a small waterfall that flows over a temple.  It is part of the Maokong region and can be accessed via the Maokong Gondola or by bus.  BikeHikeTaipei has been busy and has compiled an extensive list of hikes (and bikes) around the Taipei area.  You can follow his site at hikebiketaipei.wordpress.com

Click to view the full post on his site

9. Golden Waterfall is a popular oddity near Jiufen.  It is debatable whether or not the water is toxic but the color is due to a naturally occurring mineral.  I still wouldn’t drink the water but I have to visit sometime to see the vivid colors.  Catherine splits her year between several places and her blog is full of interesting places all over the globe.  Follow her at cattanblog.wordpress.com

Click to view the full post at her site

10.  Josh Ellis is one of the top photographer/bloggers that I follow.  He covers a broad range of topics in Taiwan but his specialty is the cultural side of Taiwan imo.  He does pretty well at waterfalls also though and has been many places that I haven’t yet.  I recommend checking out his Best of 2015 blog post to see his full array of work.

Manyueyuan (Full Moon) Forest Recreation Area has always been on my to do list (like many other places) but I so rarely take trips to northern Taiwan and I haven’t been there yet.  There are several waterfalls (as many as 10) located in the park or just outside the park and many hiking trails.  You can follow him at goteamjosh.com

Click to view the full post at his site

Some other notable waterfalls that I haven’t been to yet

Sandie Waterfall, Taipingshan, Yilan County (possibly inaccessible permanently)

Guanwu Waterfall, Hsinchu (closed for seemingly 5 of the last 6 years)

Butterfly Valley Waterfall, Taichung

Aohua Waterfall, Yilan County

Guanyin Waterfall, Chaiyi County

Wanan Waterfall, Pingtung County

Xiaobantian Waterfall, Nantou County

White Veil Waterfall, Taoyuan County

Silong Waterfall, New Taipei City

Shuiliandong, Caoling, Yunlin County

Longfeng and Changqing Waterfall, Yunlin County

Shimongu and Lover’s Glen Waterfall, Chaiyi County

 

The 2015 blog stats

2015 was a big year for content on my blogs because I went many places.  2015 was also the year that my waterfall guide started taking off.  My blog became more popular also but the waterfall guide is becoming very well known.  It is pretty common meeting people that know about and use my waterfall guide.  Shown below are the top 11 most viewed waterfall guide pages.  Some are my favorites while others are conveniently located near Taipei so they are often visited.

  1. Shifen Waterfall – a photographer’s dream

The waterfall guide grew from 41,000 views to 69,000 views for a 68% increase last year.  The World Is Not That Big was viewed another 17,000 times.  That really isn’t the interesting part.  It is more interesting to see what pages they are viewing, what countries they come from and how they are referred to the site.

2. Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail – one of the best waterfall hikes in Taiwan

Pingxi happens to be one of the rainiest areas in Taiwan but it hadn’t rained for months when I visited.  I must go back.

Shifen Waterfall actually isn’t one of my favorite waterfalls but it absolutely dominates the traffic on my website.  Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail and Shalawan Waterfall are two of my favorites and deservedly rank 2nd and 3rd.  Shalawan Waterfall is unusual because when I published the guide there was almost no English information of it and I visited it for the first time this year.  Typically it takes a year or two for a page to become popular enough to rank highly but Shalawan immediately shot to #3 and I hear constant comments from expats about how much they love it.

3. Shalawan Waterfall – a remote and less visited waterfall

There were some pages that were viewed less last year but for the most part page views went up for every waterfall.  In addition to increased traffic on existing pages I also added over 60 pages of waterfalls, hikes, temples (Bali) and other sights to the guide.  Shalawan Waterfall (pictured above), Qufengbi Trail, Beidawushan, Haishen Waterfall, Laomei Reef, Qingshan Waterfall, Alibang Waterfall and Dadi Gorge all were viewed over 200 times despite being published this year.  Maybe a couple of these will be in the top 10 next year.

blog stats

note – %’s don’t include the home page or guide organization pages (each county page)

I don’t think anyone is surprised that Taiwan ISP addresses dominate my readers.  It will be interesting to see how this changes during the next 2-3 years as I add more and more content from outside of Taiwan.  Another expected stat was that the largest native speaking English countries ranked in the top 10 in addition to Singapore and Hong Kong which speak multiple languages at near native levels.

4. Lover’s Gorge Waterfall – the perfect swimming hole after a short hike

Indonesia made the largest year to year increase due to my trip to Bali in June and it should climb even higher if I am able to add content from Sumatra and Lombok this year.  One country notably absent is Japan since they have a large population and are one of Taiwan’s closest neighbors.  I am not sure if I will be able to travel to Japan this year or not but I want to take many trips to Japan during the next 5 years.

54. Banyumala Waterfall, Bali – this is the top ranked waterfall from Bali could vault into next year’s top ten

It is interesting that I get fewer readers from Taiwan on my blog versus my waterfall guide but this makes sense with how I use social media.  Most of the time I post my waterfall guide updates to the Taiwan’s Waterfalls FB page (followers are mostly in Taiwan) and I usually post my latest blogs to my personal FB page (a lot of friends and family from back home).  Additionally the waterfall guide is more useful to those living in Taiwan.

country stats

note – stats are for the waterfall guide except for the last column as a comparison

Referrals are essential for any blog to succeed and I have done very little to promote the blog myself.  I finally became active on social media (non-personal accounts) this year but I have barely scratched the surface.  The Taiwan’s Waterfalls FB page has grown from 120 followers to 640 followers this year since I have been posting regular guide updates in addition to linking to various waterfall sites from around the world.  Other than regularly (less so every year) posting on forumosa.com and occasionally commenting on other blogs, I have done very little social media promotion.

referral stats

More important than producing your own social media following is getting your site linked in other blogs and in their social media feeds.  Most of my referrals aside from FB (and many on FB also) and forumosa are from other people mentioning my blog.  Foodie Baker wrote a blog about Wulai years ago and their referrals keep increasing every year so their blog must be doing really well.  Michael Turton is a very popular (and sometimes polarizing) expat blogger in Taiwan with interests in politics, biking, history and travel.  Steven Crook is the Bradt Travel Guide Taiwan writer and does some blogging on two sites.  Taiwan Explorer has a popular FB page with a lot of discussion, writes a blog and publishes a blogroll at mytaiwanblogs.blogspot.twCamping in Taiwan is my go to resource for finding a campsite on my weekend excursions.  Green Laundry, Nomad Notions and Taiwanvore have in the past linked to my blog and their content still brings a few visitors.

My next social media avenue is pinterest.com.  This seems like an excellent outlet for photography blogs.  For the last couple of months I have been creating boards and pinning blogs that I like.  The plan is to create boards that people want to visit and build up a following (currently 140 followers) before adding a lot of my own content to the boards.  I have enjoyed creating my pinterest board Travel Blogs – The World’s Waterfalls.  Another big area of improvement is including properly sized images in blogs for different types of social media and to start putting titles on the photos.  Every blogger should be doing this (an example).

What types of social media do you think I should start using to promote my blog?  I plan on using Instagram this year.  I despise Twitter although many say that it is essential for bloggers.  Tumblr seems interesting but I didn’t really like using it.  Does anybody actually use Google+?  Is there any reason to post stuff on there?  I have no understanding of Reddit but somebody posted my guide on there last week and within a couple of days I had 200-300 hits from that site.  Snapchat sounds like my own little personal hell.  I won’t be using that.  There is definitely a lot of untapped social media potential but ‘social’ isn’t exactly something that I do well.

Neidong Waterfall

5. Neidong Waterfall – a sad casualty of Typhoon Soudelor – unknown reopening of the trail

6. Wufengci Waterfall was one of my first waterfalls that I added to the guide in 2011

The opposite of referrals (clicks) is also true in my blogs as well.  I have frequently included links to other blogs when writing blogs but this is an area that I want to improve on next year.  One specific area is to include links to 2-3 blogs for each of the pages in my waterfall guide so my readers can access more information about a place.  I think my information is good but it isn’t always perfect nor does it tell the entire story about a place.

7. Maolin Waterfall – Hike the newly completed trail back to one of southern Taiwan’s best waterfalls

Clicks from my blogs fall into 3 main areas.  The first area is resource sites such as China Post (newspaper), Guide to Taipei, various National Forest Recreation Area website and the Central Weather Bureau.  The second area is a group of bloggers that have remained on my links pages and still get some traffic.  This page needs to be updated to include more relevant links for travelers in Taiwan.  I have linked to 3 different websites written by Richard Saunders (my favorite article that he has written) in addition to numerous China Post articles written by him (and a few other authors).  This shouldn’t be a surprise since he has been (almost) everywhere that I want to go.  He has a new must have book coming out soon for those traveling through Taiwan.

click stats

The last area is random individual bloggers and this is where I want to improve my linking the most next year.  In 2015 I started featuring relatively unknown bloggers that are doing great work in my series Great Bloggers.  So far I have done a series on Asia, Australia/NZ and Waterfalls with 10 bloggers featured in each article.  My next article is 10 waterfalls to visit in Taiwan for 2016 and it wasn’t easy finding 10 active bloggers that have great blogs/photos of waterfalls that I haven’t been to.

8. Juansi Waterfall

10. Datun Waterfall

These two waterfalls rank highly because of their proximity to Taipei and many go there.  They are relatively boring waterfalls though so I won’t post photos of them.  Most likely they will fall out of the top 10 statistically next year.

9. Liangshan Waterfall is a little more impressive than the previous two but its popularity is due to its nearby proximity to Kaohsiung and Pingtung.

Do you have any thoughts on any of these statistics?  Are they completely irrelevant?  Is anything surprising or interesting?  I don’t use any fancy Google Analytics or even have a hosted blog (yet).  I am currently working on improvements and getting it hosted but I have a real job that I earn real money at so that is (usually) prioritized.  I have many things to improve but do you find anything particularly frustrating about either site?

11. Guifu Canyon is one of the most unusual places that I have visited in Taiwan.  Absolutely incredible.

My Top 10 Hikes and Places from 2015

My 2015 wasn’t just filled with waterfalls.  I visited Sabah and Sarawak, Malaysia (Borneo) in February and Bali in June in addition to dozens of trips around Taiwan.  Some of these places are well-known but some are well off of the beaten path.  They also show just how varied Taiwan and east Asia can be.  I have already mentioned my plans for next year in my waterfall recap but I expect to have an even better year next year.

My Top 10 Hikes and Places from 2015

  1. I usually shrug my shoulders when someone mentions going to see a cave but I was traveling in a group in Sarawak, Malaysia that wanted to go to Niah Caves.  It looked pretty interesting and they also wanted to go to Lambir Hills National Park (with waterfalls) so we teamed up and rented a car.  Niah Caves was incredible.  To say that it is big is an understatement.  You can fit football fields in the cave.  There are 1000’s of bat and swiftlets that live in the caves and they provide two very valuable products for the local population.  Bat guano is used as fertilizer and bird nests are harvested for a popular Chinese soup.  Over-harvesting has led to a big decline in the swiftlet population but they are now setting quotas and times to restore the population (I don’t know the effectiveness though).

View the full blog post

2. In January Mark Roche (Blue Skies Adventures) led a trip to a mostly abandoned aboriginal village in Pingtung County, Taiwan.  In 1979 the village moved out of the mountains to a new village lower in the river valley and was able to connect to roads.  In 2009 Xinhaocha (the new village) was completely buried by rising river silt and rocks during Typhoon Morakot.  Luckily the village had been evacuated prior to the storm and the villagers have moved to Rinari near Sandimen.

Jiuhaocha (the old village) is a beautiful village with slate houses in various condition.  Some haven’t been lived in for decades while others are maintained by villagers that live in both the new and old villages.  It requires a little effort to visit and for most it is best as an overnight hike (stay in a slate house).  It is one of the coolest places that I have visited in Taiwan.  It feels like an authentic aboriginal experience instead of the festivals in the villages.  I have attended and I enjoy the festivals but I really liked seeing what life was like in an original aboriginal village.

View the full blog post

3.Beidawushan is the southernmost 3000 meter peak in Taiwan and a very popular weekend trek.  The hike is challenging right from the start and climbs almost 2000 meters to the summit.  Many hikers do Beidawushan as a 2 day trip but that requires getting up at 2am to summit and return to the car by dark.  If you have an extra day and can do a 3 day trip then I highly recommend it.

View the full blog post

4.  I am possibly the only person to ever plan my entire Bali trip around visiting its waterfalls but you would have to try very hard to avoid visiting Bali’s temples.  There are 1000’s of them on the small island.  Instead of being grand complexes (a few are) each unique temple possesses a lot of character and detail.  I blogged about my 10 favorites from my trip and Tanah Lot (pictured below) is one of the most famous and visited.

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5. One of the best and most unusual festivals in Taiwan is Donggang’s Wang Ye Boat Burning Festival.  Every 3 years they hold the 10 day festival.  All week they shoot off firecrackers and make noise to lure the evil spirits out from hiding with everyone following in the parade.  On the festival’s conclusion the local temples march a giant boat to the ocean.  All night long they prepare the boat for its voyage by piling up a mountain of (fake) paper money.  Finally they light the boat on fire taking the evil spirits with it so the town is prosperous for another 3 years.

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6.  Laomei Reef is one of those rare places that is hard to believe exists until you visit it.  The green algae only blooms for 2-3 months (March and April most likely) every year and you will need to track the ocean tidal charts and visit during low tide.  Unfortunately it will be crowded on the weekend but English teachers that start in evening could do a weekday trip from Taipei and be back in time for class.

View the full guide

7. Brunei is a tiny country on the island of Borneo whose economy is heavily tied to oil.  One side effect of their wealth is that their rainforests are virtually untouched compared to their Malaysian and Indonesian neighbors on the island.  Although small compared to its neighbors the size of their virgin forests is significant.  Brunei’s crown jewel is Ulu Temburong National Park.  99% of the park is set aside for conservation and only researchers are allowed access to those parts.  Tours are available starting with a traditional longboat ride up the Temburong River from Sumbiling Eco Village or even Bandar Seri Begawan from several tour agencies.  Once inside the park the hike leads to a canopy skywalk but unfortunately a hard thunderstorm rolled in and we were unable to go up there.

Our guide with a researcher discovering a new ant species.

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8.  Taiwan only has two short stretches of roadless coastline.  Both of them are located in Pingtung County north of Kenting.  There were serious proposals to build a road along this part of the coast but thankfully that appears to be permanently shelved.  The Qufengbi Coastal Trail leaves from the Jialeshui Scenic Area and is full of interesting sights.  The Jialeshui Scenic Area is the sight of fascinating ocean carved rocks.  There are also shipwrecks (the big one is dismantled), an old army fort and green cliffs that seemingly fall into the ocean.  The Alanyi Trail is a little farther north in the same area.  It is a little shorter and includes great views of the ocean.

The Jialeshui Scenic Area at the beginning of the Qufengbi Trail

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The Alanyi Trail

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9. Gunung Batur is Bali’s most hiked volcano since it can be done in a day (1/2 a day actually).  Gunung Batur is the center cone in one of Bali’s largest craters with an impressive lake in the southern portion.  I was unaware of this when I decided to hike Batur but it has erupted at least a dozen times in the last 150 years.

View the full guide entry

10.  Hehuanshan is Taiwan’s most accessible high mountain area due to the Central Cross Island Highway (new version) passing nearby.  It used to be the site of Taiwan’s only ski hill but the area no longer gets significant snow and the infrastructure is in ruins.  Now Taiwanese flock to Hehuanshan on snowy weekends so they can experience snow likely for the first time.

Overall there are 5 of Taiwan’s Baiyue (top 100 peaks) in the area and several others (Cilai North) that can be accessed via longer trails.  Hehuanshan Main Peak, Hehuanshan East Peak and Shimenshan are short hikes that hikers of most abilities can handle.  Hikers that want a little more challenge can tackle Hehuanshan North Peak or go all the way to Hehuanshan West Peak (a very long dayhike).

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My Top Ten Waterfalls of 2015 (link)