If you happen to find yourself in Nantou — weirder things have happened, after all — do make sure to find some time to head to Lugu Township and its wonderful forest park. Surrounded by mountains, Xitou Nature Education Area, also known as Xitou Bamboo Forest, was once an area used by University of Tokyo students during Japanese rule, but nowadays is a nature reserve and education area home to more than 70 species of birds and is actually part of the experimental forest owned by National Taiwan University. Here’s a quick guide of what to do when you visit Xitou.
Walk on the Skywalk
If you’ve got a head for heights, take a stroll along the 180-meter-long, 22.6-meter-high forest skywalk. You’ll find yourself amongst the forest’s dense canopies at a height of more than 2,000m above sea level.
Xitou University Pond (溪頭自然教育園區大學池)
A charming coy pond with an island in the middle accessible by a small bamboo bridge, here you can enjoy great views of the surrounding mountains. The pond is ten meters deep, so be sure to watch your step near the water’s edge.
See the Giant Trees
The forest is home to several giant, ancient trees. The biggest of said trees stood at more than 46 meters high and was said to be around 2,800 years old and actually fell after prolonged heavy rain in 2016, injuring three people in the process. (You might also like: A Guide to Hiking in Alishan)
Walk in the Bamboo Forest
Xitou Nature Education Area is well known for its bamboo forest, with a walk through this wonderful natural setting being a highlight of your visit.
Cross Gingko Bridge
Gingko Bridge is a 36-meter-long curvy wooden bridge made of Taiwan Cedar. Very photogenic and pleasant to walk along, it is also part of a 5.5-mile hiking route through Lugu of the same name.
Visit the Lotus Forest
A magical forest at nearby Zhushan, the lotus forest is located alongside the Shanlin River. Rare Taiwan Pleione flowers bloom here every year between February and May, making it a popular spot for wedding photos. A wetland area, the forest has diverse ecology, ranging from tadpoles and frogs to a variety of insects and birds. (Read more: Travel Deeper to Zhushan: A Eco-friendly Day in Bamboo Mountain)
How to Get to Xitou
The Nature Education Area is best accessed by bus, with buses running from Taichung, Caotun Township, Nantou City, Zhushan Township and Douliu City.
(cover photo/Chun Li Chen on Flickr)