Mugumuyu is a Taiwanese canyon that is as beautiful as the world-renowned Taroko Gorge; however, it has remained almost entirely wild because it is narrower, under local protection, and inaccessible by public transport.
Visitor's permit required
The canyon here offers another kind of beauty — the raw power of nature. However, for those who want to visit the canyon, there are a couple of options: apply for the pass beforehand online (http://eli.npa.gov.tw/E7WebO/index02.jsp), try to obtain one of the few individual daily permits in the early morning at the police station at Tongmen (銅門鄉), or register for a tour at a locally-run tourist agency, and let the tour guides arrange everything.
Taiwan's best-kept secret
Mugumuyu offers a landscape of severe beauty and spectacular surprises. The river has dug a sinuous path through the harsh mountains, leaving marble and limestone boulders piled almost vertically at some spots. There are also abrupt slopes, densely covered with lush green vegetation, which plunge brutally into the river bed. Reminders of how this area remains a junction of two tectonic plates are abound.
Fast-moving waters of the Qingshui River run through the scenic landscape, piling into pools of crystal-blue waters and white waterfalls. Even in this rugged environment though, mankind has carved a way; there are eight extremely impressive hydro-electric dams, as the sheer vertical drop allows for very efficient water-to-energy conversion.
The road itself, similar to that in Taroko, is also quite remarkable. Some portions have been excavated directly into the rock face, and the curves above intimidating precipices and through the vegetation are awe-inspiring. The many bridges that are vital for local transportation also serve as a reminder that no matter what, civilization can never be left entirely behind.
All in all, Mugumuyu is a little jewel that may be a tad hard to reach. Full of sights and sounds and fresh surprises, the canyon eludes the imagination of those who have yet to make a visit, and no description can ever exactly capture the beauty of Mugumuyu.