You must prebook your accommodation in Jiuhaocha (contact info below)
Jiuhaocha is one of the most authentic aboriginal experiences in Taiwan. It is also a heartbreaking story of a community’s perseverance. An aboriginal guide leads the hike starting outside of Sandimen and walks up a riverbed past the deserted Xinhaocha (new Haocha) before climbing up the mountain to Jiuhaocha (old Haocha). Your group will stay in an aboriginal slate house and be able to tour the dozen or so slate houses in good condition and the rest of the original village. The village is located on the side of a beautiful mountain with views of Beidawushan.
History – In 1979 the residents of Jiuhaocha (old Haocha) decided to move the village from the mountains into the valley below. The Rukai tribe live in Xinhaocha (new Haocha) for almost 30 years until Typhoon Sepat damaged the village in 2007 and Morakot completed the destruction in 2009. Thankfully the villagers were evacuated before the storm dumped over 2 meters of rain. The river rose so high that it washed away nearly all of village. The rest of the village was buried under rocks and silt. Today the only building still visible is the 2 story church but every year more silt and rocks are deposited and soon the entire church is buried. The residents have been relocated to Rinari near Sandimen. Jiuhaocha remains a lesser known hiking destination but there are some signs that it is becoming more popular. One way to contribute to the recovery and preservation is to hire an aboriginal guide and stay in the village.
Rating and length – Moderately strenuous (some parts are easy and some strenuous) – 10 kms (one way) – 5-6 hours
Best time to go – November to April – It is scorching hot during the summer and the river levels will be too high to make the trip.
How to get there – After arriving in Sandimen you need to go to the Taiwan Aboriginal Culture Park (possible entrance fee). Go through the park and continue along the road until it ends in about 5kms. The hike begins in the river bed.
The hike – You start at the end of the road before it disappears into the riverbed. There is no trail for the first 5 kms but the walking is easy. The hike will require crossing the river 5-10 (or more) times and it won’t be possible to do the hike during the summer months and anytime after a heavy rain. A couple of kilometers from the start you will see the roof of church of Xinhaocha. A few kilometers later there is a large landslide ravine entering the main valley from the left. The hiking trail begins to the right and is difficult to locate without an aboriginal guide. The remainder of the hike is moderately steep. It will take about an hour to reach a rest area with water and shade. From here you can see the most exhilarating/terrifying part of the hike. A narrow trail is cut into the side of the cliff with a 10-15 minute section of steep, rocky switchbacks. There are ropes to assist you during the scariest sections. After leaving the ridgeline the trail enters Jiuhaocha valley with a magnificent waterfall on the other side. Shortly before arriving in the village there will be a small meadow of wildflowers.
Alternate routes to the village – I have not hiked any of these
From Ali village – Jiuhaocha can be reached from Ali village near Wutai. A Taiwanese group hiked into Jiuhaocha while we were there. It took them 6.5 hours which included a 1.5 hour detour to a nearby peak. Trail condition is unknown but at the very least passable.
From Wutai – There was a trail from Wutai but it is said to be impassable.
GPS – Trailhead N22.69951 E120.68552 Jiuhaocha Village N22.69823 E120.73602
Contact info – Baru Galan (Chinese speaking) can be reached at (08) 799-3288, (08) 799-7333 or 0919-606-063 to set up guiding and a homestay at Jiuhaocha (the old village) or at Gucha/Rinari (the new relocated village) near Sandimen.
Tour group info – contact Mark Roche with Blue Skies Adventures to set up a tour group with meals, transport (from Kaohsiung) and additional guiding