A mother and baby macaque sit on a trailside fence on Mt. Wushan.
I had a day to take my two oldest boys anywhere we wanted to go, while their mother and little brother went to attend a school reunion. It was during Lunar New Year week, so there was no school, and I didn’t have to work. So I chose to give the boys an adventurous day trip that they would remember. I chose to take them on the motor scooter to the Wushan Macaque Nature Preserve just east of Nanhua, Tainan County, Taiwan. Mountains and monkeys are always an adventurous mix, including the thrills of close contact with wild, unpredictable animals, the rigors of mountain hiking, and breathtaking views. What’s amazing is that such a location exists just 30 kilometers east of the major municipality of Tainan, Taiwan (pop. 1.87 million).
Close-up view of the travel route used in Tainan Municipality.
A map showing the area of Taiwan where we travelled.
We started our trip at 10:50 AM from our home in Sigang Township and motored east on a leisurely pace, stopping for photos along the way. I drive a 150cc Yamaha scooter, and drove at a 60 kph pace. We chose the most direct route, along Hwy 178, Hwy 20, Hwy 20E, and up the mountain road on Mt. Wushan. The drive took only a little more than an hour, but it could have much faster, had we not stopped several times along the way. I also spent NT85 (US$2.75) to fill up my gas tank, and the entire trip consumed about half a tank. I will let the photos describe our trip for me:
(Map Location 1) 11:05 AM: We stop at a temple in the town of Anding, where Hwy 178 begins.
(Map Location 2) 11:10 AM: Before we leave the town of Anding, we stop at a field of colorful wildflowers next to Hwy 178.
(Map Location 3) 11:15 AM: Hwy 178 goes through the middle of the bustling town of Shanhua.
(Map Location 4) 11:20 AM: Hwy 178 goes through the sleepy town of Shanshang before it ends at Hwy 20. The town is famous for pineapples.
(Map Location 5) 11:45 AM: Hwy 20 is a beautiful drive through the foothills. We stop at the crossroads of Hwy 20 and Hwy 20E to buy a fresh charcoal-roasted chicken at a roadside stand. It was REALLY fresh.
(Map Location 6) 12:05 PM: We stopped to eat our lunch at Nanhua, and it was delicious. It was also minding its own business an hour earlier with its clucking siblings.
(Map Location 6) 12:07 PM: Xander enjoys an entire chicken leg with his milk tea.
(Map Location 6) 12:07 PM: Johan enjoys a leg, wing, and thigh with his milk tea.
(Map Location 6) 12:08 PM We enjoyed our lunch at a stone table in the town of Nanhua. The table overlooked a beautiful view of Mt. Wushan. This photo captured some of the decorations next to our table.
(Map Location 7) 12:52 PM: As we ascend Mt. Wushan, we stop by an interesting temple. It's symbol is a nursing mother.
(Map Location 7) 12:54 PM: The boys play on the horse statues in front of a temple entrance. While parents prayed, other children also played on the horses as well.
(Map Location 7) 12:55 PM: The Nursing Mother Temple sits halfway up Mt. Wushan.
(Map Location #8) 1:00 PM: Approaching Zi Zhu Shi Temple near our destination at the top of Mt. Wushan.
(Map Location #8) 1:04 PM: Looking back at the Zi Zhu Shi Temple and the large Buddha statue from the rooftop plaza.
(Map Location #8) 1:05 PM: From the Zi Zhu Shi Temple we could see Nanhua, and Tainan City in the far horizon.
(Map Location #8) 1:15 PM: The road sign marks our destination: The Wushan Macaque Nature Reserve.
(Map Location #8) 1:17 PM: The crowds were heavy at the Macaque Reserve during Lunar New Year holiday.
(Map Location #8) 1:18 PM: We walk up to the parking lot of the visitor center/restaurant and see our first monkeys.
(Map Location #8) 1:19 PM: A tourist gives our boys a few peanuts to share.
(Map Location #8) 1:30 PM: The noisy tourists bring food, cameras, and their curiosity to the mountain hiking trails. Today the monkeys have more food than they know what to do with.
(Map Location #8) 1:35 PM: I buy two buckets of bananas and peanuts for the boys, and we try to find less crowded areas to feed the monkeys.
(Map Location #8) 1:40 PM: This protective Macaque seemed like an Alpha male, and he was quite vocal if people ventured too near.
(Map Location #8) 1:43 PM: Some monkeys were more assertive, or even aggressive, than others, as Johan discovered for himself. There were many personalities on view.
(Map Location #8) 1:52 PM: Many macaques preferred to keep their distance from the trail, hoping the visitors would throw the food to them.
(Map Location #8) 1:54 PM: We found a pair of large adult monkeys who guarded a large group of families. They were quite friendly.
(Map Location #8) 1:56 PM: The male macaque was quite friendly, until my camera lens got too close to his face.
(Map Location #8) 1:57 PM: This pair let me be very close, just inches from their faces.
(Map Location #8) 1:58 PM: We were fortunate to have a large part of the trail near the restroom all to ourselves, spending a lot of time getting to know our primate relatives.
(Map Location #8) 2:20 PM: The main trail ended, and we continued to explore much smaller trails that no other tourists felt safe to walk on. There weren't many monkeys further up.
(Map Location #8) 2:22 PM: Part of the smaller mountain trail required holding onto a rope to traverse.
(Map Location #8) 2:30 PM: After returning our buckets with food still in them, we decided to stop at a mountainside coffee shop before returning home.
(Map Location #8) 2:35 PM: We find a table at the edge of the patio next to a pair of binoculars for rent. The kids could view the vista below for NT10 for 2 minutes.
(Map Location #8) 2:45 PM: Xander thinks life is good, as he enjoys a refreshing fruit drink.
(Map Location #8) 2:46 PM: Johan kicks his feet up and enjoys the moment. After our drinks, we drive home and return home at 5:15 PM.