Tuesday, April 12, 2016

hiking & spelunking Kenting National Park

There are two major paths visitors can take through the forest area of Kenting National Park. We visited the park the morning of the day we were heading back to Hsinchu, so we could only really take one due to time constraints. We opted to take the longer one--labeled visiting area II on all the maps-- as it includes multiple caves and sea lookouts. 

The walkways are well marked and maintained and include beautiful forest trails, high mountain peaks and treks through caves. In the end, we spent about three sweaty hours walking up and down a lot of stairs, keeping our eyes peeled for Gunther the monkey who haunts the forest and admiring the views of the Strait of Taiwan and the Pacific Ocean.

Some of my favorite spots were:

The Sea Viewing Platform
As Kenting sits at the southernmost point of Taiwan, the view from the tower provides a great view of both the Pacific Ocean and the Strait of Taiwan. Obviously, we went on an overcast day, but the views were still pretty great from up top! 

The Fairy Cave & The Dragon Cave
Hands down, the caves were my favorite part of the national park (and not just because they were much cooler than the hot, muggy air outside). These caves are coral reefs that were formed 120,000 years ago! How nuts is that?! These rocks used to be at the bottom of the sea. Obviously, over time and via shifting tectonic plates, they now stand at the top of Kenting National Park. Nature is so cool!

The Valley of Hanging Banyan 
All of the trails in Kenting National Park are well groomed and marked. This stretch of the trail was easily my favorite, but not actually because of the banyan trees. When I was a teen, I became obsessed with decorating my bedroom. One of my favorite ways to do it was with plants, and my favorite of them all was the Wandering Jew. Now, I am no botanist, and I am sure this beautiful green and purple plant is also known by a different name. This plant was all over the park's trails, and this is the only place I have ever seen the plant in nature. I was smitten! 

One-Line Sky
Earthquakes split this huge stone in half and visitors can walk through the narrow rift. The name comes from the fact than once inside the rift, walkers can only see a thin blue strip of sky. 

As you can see from these happy faces, we had a great time!!!

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