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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Taiwan, December 2 – 7, 2003,
Taiwan is a great birding location that I heartily recommend. However, unless wintering shorebirds are the target species, I do not know if I would recommend December as a prime time to visit. The birds are quiet, the days are short, and the weather can be cold. In addition, the migrants have left for the winter. On the other hand, there were fewer tourists and birders than I would expect during other seasons.
Taiwan is relatively easy to get around. There are many flights into Taipei. In the cities, most people speak a little English (especially the younger generations). Invariably, the people we met were very friendly, and genuinely tried to help when we had language difficulties.
My wife Marlene and I had a week in-between a business trip to work on our birdlist of Taiwan. On a previous visit to Taiwan we had visited sites for Black-faced Spoonbill and Styan's Bulbul, and therefore concentrated on the mid-to-high level interior forested areas. Consequently, we have no shorebirds on our trip list. However, we were able to see all of our "missing" endemic birds as well as several special non-endemics on this short trip.
We rented a car, which went flawlessly; I recommend Central Auto Services (tel: 886-2-2882-1000, fax: 886-2-2881-6534) which delivered and picked up our car at our hotel exactly on time. I made a reservation via fax as most Taiwanese can read and write English much better than they can speak it. We rented a Honda 4WD CRV, which was not really necessary but added a lot of reassurance when we saw the many washed-out roads. The road maps in Taiwan all seem to have errors, so a good navigator is important, and expect to do some back-tracking. Most importantly, the main road from Hohuanshan to Kakuan is closed and will be so indefinitely due to landslide damage from serious earthquakes three years ago. This means that, upon reaching Hohuanshan, the only options are to continue over the mountains through Taroko Gorge, or to backtrack through Puli. Also, the road from Tungshih has been diverted due to repair work approx 20 km before Puli, and the detour is marked with an obscure Chinese-language sign. If you follow the main road, you will end up on Route 80 to Hueisan Forest. A further challenge is that there can be multiple English names for Chinese names of towns: for example, Tungshih = Dongshih and both are used on signs. I found it very useful to try to memorize at least part of the Chinese symbol for the next major town, because only a few signs in rural areas were in English.
We stayed at the Brother Hotel in Taipei (tel: 886-2-2712-3456, fax: 886-2-2712-3334, web site: http://www.brotherhotel.com.tw) simply because it was convenient for business I had. The Apollo Hotel ( tel: 886-49-900555, fax: 886-49-900552) in Puli was nice, and head cook David spoke excellent English. Cost was 1800 NT (approx 50 US). The Wu Ying hotel (tel: 886-49-2802360, fax: 886-49-2802948), conveniently located next to a 7-11 store in Wushe, was quite basic. We stayed only one night. Cost was 1000 NT (approx US 30). There are many hotels in the ChingJing area, a few km up from Wushe; this area is very popular with local tourists who want to experience a farm environment. This area is clearly becoming a tourist center and many hotels are under construction. The Anmashan lodging is described in detail in the "Locations" section.
For all the hotels, it is a good idea to have their name in Chinese handy, as few locals will know them by their English-language name. It is also handy to obtain a business card from each, to show someone in case you need to get back.
We had no problems at all at gas stations or restaurants. Even when no one spoke good English, it was possible to get the point across. We found that 7-11 stores, which were everywhere, were convenient places to stock up on snacks and drinks. There are ATMs, but many are not connected to an international system. We suggest getting local currency (NT dollars, approx 35 per US dollar) while at the airport in Taipei. Credit cards are accepted only at the major hotels.
The trip report of Garry George was especially useful and formed the basis for the early part of our trip. Other trip reports were helpful in providing further logistical detail. These reports are quite comprehensive, so I have tried to only add information to complement that already given in these reports. Wayne Hsu's "Most Wanted Species" list was very helpful in fine-tuning the itinerary. Mr Yao Cheng-Te, from the Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org), drove more than one hour one-way to join us for birding one day - we would have missed some key species and sites without his friendly help. Lastly, the map to Anmashan in the Birder's Guide to Taiwan by Dave Sargeant was invaluable.
The Wild Bird Society of Taipei has an office at: 1st floor, No. 3, Lane 160, Section 2, Fu-Hsing South Road (tel: 886-2-2325-9190, fax: 886-2-2755-4209, e-mail: email@example.com, web site: http://www.wbst.org.tw) . It took us two taxi drivers to find the place, so be sure to bring along the address. The staff there, especially Benjamin Hsiao, were very friendly but I am sorry to report the information available in English was not great. They have published two brochures, Top 10 Taipei Bird Watching Spots and Top 10 Taiwan Bird Watching Spots, but we found the information in them included wrong telephone numbers and incorrect information about access permits at Anmashan. Also, the brochures include maps of each area but these are tiny and in Chinese and of little help. The shop had cassette tapes and CDs of bird songs for sale; there is a series of five, but they only had three in stock. One of the tapes had no English so it was tricky to figure out the bird calls from the "contents" list. However, we called in a Taiwan Bush-warbler using a song from one of these tapes, so it was worth the purchase.
We used two guide books. A Field Guide to the Birds of China by McKinnon and Philips is excellent and contains information on all Taiwan endemics. An older book, A Field Guide to the Birds of Taiwan, by Chang and Huang, has limited English and the illustrations could be better, but showed that Hwamei in Taiwan has almost no white around the eye (helpful when we saw it). Neither book splits Taiwan Bush-warbler.
Tuesday, December 2
We left the Brother Hotel at 6:30AM and arrived via taxi at Yangmingshan National Park in northern Taipei at 7:15AM. First light at this time of year is 6:30AM and nightfall is at 5:30PM. We were let off at the entrance and walked some roads and trails in that area, and then walked down to the "flower clock" area, then on to the waterfall area before returning to the hotel via taxi. Most of the birds seen in the park were those we would see often, usually in large flocks, at mid-to-lower elevations - Black and Light-vented Bulbuls, Taiwan Yuhinas, Grey Treepies, Black-headed Barbets, Japanese White-eyes, and Grey-cheeked Fulvettas. However, near the waterfall area we saw our only Taiwan Whistling Thrushes. Although we had some good leads on sites for Taiwan (Blue) Magpie, we did not see any.
At 10AM, we returned to the hotel and then to the office of the Wild Bird Society of Taiwan. The car was delivered promptly at noon, and following lunch we drove to Fengyuan via Highway 1, then east to Tungshih (Dongshih) on Route 3, then south via Route 8 and 21 to Puli. Highway 1 is a toll road, with four tolls of 40 or 50 NT each - stay to the right at the toll booths as these are the only ones that accept cash. Route 21 is partially closed about 20 km before Puli due to landslides, and there is a poorly-marked detour. We ended up on Route 80 to the Hueisan Forest, which was not terrible as that was our intended destination for the following morning and at least we found out where it was. But this did add an hour to the trip. The drive on this route from Taipei to Puli should take about four hours. Overnight in Puli at the Apollo Hotel. However, it was difficult to find the hotel, because its name in Chinese is nothing at all like "Apollo" so no one recognized that name. Fortunately, we had the hotel name written in Chinese, and eventually was directed to it.
Wednesday, December 3
Early morning check-out and departure to Hueisan Forest, arriving 6:30AM. Paid admission of 500 NT $, and then we quickly found out that most of the area is closed due to construction and repairs to roads due to landslide damage. The farthest we could go was to the visitor center, which made us very unhappy, but then I spotted a Malayan Night Heron slowly walking across the lawn, giving us great views before melting into some bamboo. So, we decided the place was not so bad. Took a walk on a trail along the river, quickly encountered a flock of Yellow Tits. A bit farther along we came upon two large flocks of Taiwan Blue Magpies, which flew close and then across the river and perched in perfect view. By 7:30AM, workmen were arriving and by 7:45AM there were trucks and construction equipment along the walking paths, so it was time to leave. Other birds seen here included Daurian Redstart, Grey-chinned Minivet, Gray-faced Woodpecker and White-bellied Pigeon.
We retraced our drive back to Puli and then onto Route 14 up to Wushe. This distance is not long but the windy road and truck traffic means it takes a long time to cover. Arrived in Wushe at approx 3PM, checked into the Wu Ying Hotel in Wushe (next to the 7-11 store). Drove up Route 14 to the Blue Gate road / trail. We walked in about 2 km before turning back in order to be out by dark at 5:30PM. Unfortunately, about 1 km into our walk a truck with workers came by, apparently checking underground water pipes. It appears that there is a lot of traffic on this road, which made us pessimistic about finding pheasants. Among birds we did see on this road were many Collared Bush-robins on the track and several Scaly Thrush. We probably saw a White-browed Bush-robin among the Collared Bush-robins, but they are difficult to separate from the female Collared. Steere'sLiocichla and Rufous-capped Babbler were noisy in the bushes. No pheasants seen despite some good territory. Drove farther up Route 14 to locate the Continuation Trail for the next day's walk. Returned to hotel. This night in Wushe the temperature was down to 5 C, and the hotel had no heat. It was also noisy. We decided to move to another hotel the next morning. Overnight at Wu Ying Hotel.
Thursday, December 4
Dawn start at the Continuation Trail. This road has a large sign showing a Mikado Pheasant so we thought that was a good omen. Along this road there were many Taiwan Laughingthrush, a few Taiwan Barwing, plus the others we saw on the Blue Gate trail. By about 7:30AM, we were 3 - 4 km down the trail, when several trucks came by - apparently there is landslide damage on this road as well, and lots of work being done. Soon we came upon a large amount of pipes, equipment, sheds, etc., along the road and decided to turn back, arriving at the start at 10AM.
We then drove back down Route 14 to the ChingJing Hotel, which is about 8 km up from Wushe, to get a room and a snack. This hotel is also next door to the Mist Plaza, a small shopping area with a Starbucks and a 7-11, which was very convenient as a stock-up point. This hotel was approx twice the cost of the one in Wushe, but is much nicer, with a full restaurant. But still no heat ! However, these rooms were better-insulated and we were not cold inside even though the outside temperatures again dropped to 5 C that night.
We then drove up Route 14 towards Hohuanshan, which is well marked by brown signs that read "Hohuan Mountain" or some variation. The road beyond km 20 becomes very winding and in several locations is a single lane. It is very important to watch well ahead and to pull over when the road is wide enough for traffic coming down to pass. I believe that the traffic coming down has the right-of-way, but we yielded to everyone. Certainly the busses and trucks always took the right-of-way.
The parking area at the top of the Hohuanshan road is supposed to be good for several high-altitude specialties, but we saw none this day. There were several vendors with trucks in the lot, and nothing but Taiwan Laughingthrush in the area or across the road. We drove farther along to the next rest stop, but still did not see anything. The temperature in this area was below freezing so there was ice on the sides of the road.
We drove back down to Blue Gate trail 1, arriving 3PM, and walked the same area we had the previous day. No vehicles this day, but also no new birds. Overnight at ChingJing Hotel.
Friday December 5
Up early to drive down to Wushe to meet Mr Yao. After reviewing what we had seen, he decided that Bedongyuenshan would be a good location. We arrived there by 6AM and started walking up the road. Unfortunately, a dog about 100 m ahead of us started barking at us, and continued barking and staying at that distance for 30 minutes. That essentially eliminated our chances for pheasant or partridge. At 7:30 AM we decided to walk back down; we saw Dusky Fulvetta, Vivid Niltava and Streak-breasted Scimitar-babbler along the way down. Upon returning to the gate, Mr Yao found that there was a new lock on it so we could not drive in. So we decided to go up to Meifeng Experimental Farm at km 15 on Route 14. On the road out of Bedongyuenshan, we saw Collared Finchbill and Rufous-faced Warbler.
The Meifeng Experimental Farm was also very quiet, however Mr Yao did pick out the high-pitched call of a Flamecrest, and we also flushed a covey of Chinese Bamboo Partridges. As we were leaving at 11AM, Mr Yao pointed out an area which had been reliable for Taiwan Bush-warbler, but none were calling. At this point, Mr Yao left us, and we decided to try Hohuanshan again. At the rest stop at km 24, we found a flock of Gray-headed Bullfinch in a fruiting tree, along with a single Hwamei well above its normal altitude range (this stop is at approx 2400 m). The parking area at the top was again very quiet, though we may have heard a Flamecrest. We walked along several trails here to no avail. We then drove farther along, and down, to the next rest stop. There is a road across from the parking lot where some construction is underway, and here we found many Winter Wrens. Farther down, next to a viewing platform marked as "Mt. Hohuanshan viewing area" is an abandoned building and here we found several Alpine Accentors.
Returning down to Meifeng Farm, we stopped where we had parked previously and encountered a nice mixed flock of grassland birds including Vinous-throated Parrotbill. Then I played a tape, and a Taiwan Bush-warbler started chipping back, hopping up to give us a nice view before retreating.
We left this area at 3PM, and decided to go back to Bedongyuenshan. Approx 300 m before the main gate, on the access road, a beautiful male Swinhoe's Pheasant slowly crossed the road less than 25 m in front of our car. After getting over this spectacle, we drove a bit more and flushed a Taiwan Partridge from some leaf litter along the road. We parked at the gate, and although we did not see any more pheasants or partridges we did see ample evidence of scratching alongside the road. We also heard some leaf rustling off the trails but the brush was too thick to see. Overnight at ChingJing Hotel.
Saturday, December 6.
Although Mr Yao had told us that the Blue gate and Continuation trails were "not as good as they used to be", we decided to try the Continuation trail again. Unfortunately, we had the same results, the only new bird seen was a Little Forktail well down the trail. Again, by 9AM there was a truck on the trail, plus a back-hoe had appeared.
At this time, we decided that the likelihood of seeing a Mikado Pheasant on these trails was slim, and decided to relocate to Anmashan. We drove back down Route 14 to Puli, across Routes 21 and 8 to Tungshih, where we stopped at a McDonald's for lunch, and then up to Anmashan. Several others have written that it is impossible to find the road out of Tungshih to Anmasham without local help or the map supplied in David Sargeant's report, and we concur.
We arrived at km 35 and the Anmashan entrance at 3PM, and went to the visitor's center to see if lodging was available. The lot was filled with busses, and we were told there were no rooms available and that reservations must be made at least a month in advance. This was a serious problem, as the drive to/from Tungshih takes an hour, plus we did not see any hotels during our drive through. Sleeping in the car, or a very early start from Tungshih, seemed the only options. We also knew the temperatures would again be down to 5 C and we did not bring along sleeping bags. We drove up to the top and trail 230. This trail, as all the others, was marked by a large "no admission" sign that birders seem to ignore. But this trail also had a locked gate and fence. We squeezed around it, and about 50 m down the trail came upon several European Nutcrackers atop the trees, surrounded by 15-20 Pale Thrushes. A bit farther down we encountered several Streak-throated Fulvettas. We then drove back down to the visitor's center, hoping without luck that a room was available.
We went down to trail 210. Within a few hundred meters we heard scratching and caught a brief rear-end view of a pheasant down the hill. About one km in, a male and female Swinhoe's Pheasant crossed the path just in front of us. As others have said, walking quietly and listening for the tell-tale noises as the pheasants work through the brush pays dividends. Soon after that, a truck loaded with construction equipment drove down the road from inside the park. And then more - a total of six or seven ! So we were discouraged, but we also had seen pheasants so we hoped that the birds had become accustomed to the construction traffic. We turned around at this point, and drove up to the visitor's center. By this time the main gate had closed so we thought that anyone coming in for the night would have already checked in. The helpful staff at the front desk made several phone calls, and finally we were told that one room was available. Of course we immediately took it, and were escorted down to dinner. Overnight at Anmashan.
Sunday, December 7.
We were on trail 210 at dawn, trying to be the first on the trail. This turned out not to be an issue, as we did not even see another birder until 9AM. At approx 2 km we flushed two pheasants from roadside brush, and got a good look at a female Mikado Pheasant. We then noticed several well-defined pheasant "runways" - obvious paths up the sides of the bushy hills. This area has large trees with undergrowth of approx one meter high. We waited in this area, hearing pheasants on either side of the track, but none crossed. We then continued up the road, until we reached a massive construction project which included a full construction camp, and lots of heavy equipment. But we were lucky - it was Sunday, and apparently what we had seen the previous late afternoon was the crew leaving for the weekend. However, this construction area went on for at least a kilometer, so we decided to go back to the pheasant area. Despite waiting around, we heard nothing. At 9:45AM, at about 2 km from the entrance, a male Mikado Pheasant strutted out onto the trail, oblivious to us. This may be the habituated bird mentioned in Wayne Hsu's report.
Elated, we continued down the trail where we encountered a group of young Taiwanese birders, and we told them of the pheasant. We hope they were able to see it as well. We had a little time left before we had to leave, so we went to trail 220. It too was locked but the gate was easy to go around. About 200 meters down the trail we encountered a flock of Rusty Laughingthrush, our last new bird of the trip. The drive back to Taipei took approx 3.5 hours from Anmasham, a bit longer than expected due to heavy traffic returning to Taipei on Sunday afternoon.
Yangmingshan National Park is located just north of Taipei. We took a taxi there. Note that the entire area is "Yangmingshan" so it is necessary to specify the Park. Travel time from downtown Taipei before traffic is approx 30 minutes. If you elect to take a taxi to Yangmingshan, we strongly suggest you also pre-arrange a pickup, as there are few taxis in the park and we had limited luck calling for a taxi. This of course means specifying when you want to be picked up, which is a challenge when birding, but the alternative could be a very long walk or wait.
There are two main birding areas with trails at Yangmingshan: the area behind the flower clock, and the waterfall area. The area near the flower clock is also at the main parking area, and this area becomes crowded and noisy very early. We were there at dawn on a cool Tuesday, yet there were still many people enjoying breakfast in the parking lots and grassy areas. The birds in this area are habituated to the noise, but the variety is limited. The trails on either side of the waterfall are less popular, but it is still normal to find people around every corner, exercising or meditating. Yangmingshan is reputed to be a good location for Taiwan Blue Magpie. Although we had some direction to the prime locations, we did not see any. We did see our only Taiwan Whistling Thrush at the waterfall area.
Huiesan Experimental Forest
This location is a large area, accessible via Route 80 north of Puli. Travel time from downtown Puli was 45 minutes. There is an admission fee of 100 NT/person plus 300/car. Approx 1 km into the forest there is a visitor's center. The road apparently goes much farther into the forest, but it was closed and under major repair due to landslide damage. In addition, the walking trails were also under repair. We parked at the visitors center, where we saw a Malayan Night-Heron. Adjacent to the visitors center is a path that goes through a grassy area and then along the river gorge. This afforded us excellent views of many birds, the highlight being the Taiwan Blue Magpies. By 7:30 the workers began to arrive, and soon we encountered construction trucks on the walking paths - time to go. Near the entrance we stopped briefly at a small path that led to the garbage area, hoping for partridge, to no avail. But this area looks promising and was relatively undisturbed compared to the rest of the area. At least until the construction is over, it seems the key to this area is to arrive at dawn and stay until work begins.
Blue Gate / Continuation trails
These trails are in Tsuifeng, which is 16 km up Route 14 from Wushe. When driving to Wushe from Puli, the road is Route 14. But, in Wushe, it splits into two different roads, each marked Route 14. The branch to the right goes to Wanda Reservoir. The branch to the left continues up to Tsuifeng and Hohuanshan Mountain. The km markers for the road to Hohuanshan start at this branch in Wushe.
At one time, there was only one long Blue Gate trail. Now it has been split by a road, so there are two. Most people refer to these as Blue Gate trail 1, which goes from the start on Route 14 to the cross road, and the rest of the trail as the Continuation trail (or Blue Gate trail 2).
Blue Gate trail is easy to find: it is on the north side at KM 15.8 on Route 14 (left side going up), and starts at a truck run-off ramp. There are small parking pull-offs on either side of the road. The "blue gate" is visible about 50 m down the trail. It does not look as if it has been closed in a long time. The trail descends slowly and then levels off. The early stages of the trail have some open forest, and then it enters an area of brush and small forest. The trail is actually a road, and there is ample evidence of trucks and motorcycle traffic. We had a van with workers drive by during our first walk down Blue Gate trail 1. Despite the disturbances, many of the endemic birds were found along or on the trail. The trail continues approx 4 km until it reaches the cross-road and then becomes the Continuation trail.
The Continuation trail can be reached by continuing up Route 14 to km 18 and the small group of buildings called Tsuifeng. There is a police station on the north side (left side going up), and next to it is a steep road that winds down about 500 m until it crosses the Blue Gate / Continuation trail. The Continuation trail is on the right, and has a parking area and a large sign showing a Mikado pheasant. It too has a blue gate at the entrance. Others have reported this road to be the best birding area of their trip, but it apparently has been degraded by construction. While on this road, we twice encountered trucks, plus there is a little construction camp with supplies and a lot of pipe. The road has been damaged by landslides, and the work is being done to repair the road and the pipelines. We did not see any pheasants, but lots of endemics were present.
Meifeng Experimental Garden
We entered the gardens through what appeared to be a back entrance at the south side of Route 14 exactly at km 15. At the bottom of the road is an abandoned building, across from which we saw Taiwan Bush-warbler. Walking along this road will eventually lead to the gardens, which were very quiet during our visit. However, they apparently are very good for open country birds at other seasons. We did not see any English-language signs for this location, and the main gate appeared to be locked. This is surprising because this is one of the "top 10 birding locations" in the booklet issued by the Wild Bird Society of Taiwan.
Hohuanshan (Hohuan Mountain)
Continuing past Tsuifeng on Route 14 past the road to the Continuation trail, the road quickly becomes very windy and, at times, only a single lane wide. The trip to the top is only 12 km but can take 45+ minutes. A good strategy for us was to follow a vehicle traveling at a comfortable speed, letting them encounter the oncoming traffic. We also stopped at each of the rest areas along the way. The rest area at km 24 was especially productive for us (Grey-headed Bullfinch, Hwamei).
There is a parking area at the highest point of the road, which is where the busses stop. There were many food vendors in the lot, including one selling cappuccino from the back of his van ! It was cold here with ice on side of the roads, a novelty for the Taiwanese visitors. The only birds here were Taiwan Laughingthrush. One km farther along, as the road descends, there is another rest area. Across the main road from the parking area is a road leading past some buildings under construction. This short road dead-ends in about 300 meters at what appears to be an abandoned office building. This road has Winter Wrens with Alpine Accentors at the end.
Of course, few people come to Hohuanshan for the birds. One reason for the busloads of tourists is that the view all along the road is magnificent. There are rows and rows of mountains, with clouds in the valleys. Bring a camera - and a jacket. Farther along, this road goes through the Taroko Gorge, which is supposed to be even more spectacular.
The direction to Hohaunshan is clearly marked with brown road signs. These are handy signs to follow on the road from Puli.
Bedongyuanshan is an experimental farm run by a university. From Wushe, travel to km 4 where there is a major intersection and turn left. Follow this road for 7 to 8 km, past a concrete factory on the right. The road to Bedongyuanshan is on the left side of the road and is the first paved road after km 5. Approx two km along the access road is a locked gate. We did not have the combination, so we only walked inside the gate and partly up the road. This is apparently a stronghold for Taiwan Partridge. We did flush one outside the gate, and also saw a great male Swinhoe's Pheasant here. There were many birds along the road as it climbed through forest. Apparently there is a farm and grassland birds farther along. According to Mr. Yeo, Bedongyuanshan is actually an extension of the Hueisan Forest.
Getting to Anmasham was straightforward with the directions from David Sergeant's report. Contrary to the Wild Bird Society's info, no permit is required to enter Anmashan. The trip from Tungshih took about an hour. Along the way, there is a long one-way tunnel but I did not see any directions as to who had right-of-way, so we just drove through and had no problems. The entrance fee is 100 NT / person, plus NT 300 / car. The gates are open from 7AM to 5PM. However, the "exit" gate is left open and presumably one could enter through it at any time.
Anmashan is not a park, it is a forest reserve. However, they have clearly decided to market it as a "destination". The scenery en route is beautiful - this is also a hot springs area. Every parking lot had a nice rest room facility, several had convenience stores, all had vending machines with hot/cold drinks and noodles. It appears that more lodging is already being built. We were there on a weekend, and there were many busses but we never saw anyone on the trails so I am not sure what the tourists do while there.
The key issue at Anmashan is lodging. The closest alternate lodging would be in Tungshih, but we did not see any obvious hotels as we drove through. The Anmashan hotel area is at km 43, and there is also a canteen - breakfast and supper are included in the room rate. The meals are whatever is available, but our supper was fine. Meal times are strict. There are many rooms available at Anmashan, most for 2 people but some for 7. Rates range from 1840 NT for the 2-person rooms to 3510 NT for the 7-person rooms. Advance reservations, at least a month in advance, are critical unless you get lucky as we did. According to their handout, the numbers to call between 1 to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, are 886-4-25229696 or 886-4-2522-9797. The rooms are basic, and unheated. The bathrooms were pretty smelly. However, I understand that these rooms represent a significant improvement over the room options a few years ago.
Trail 210 is only a hundred meters from the entry gate on the left and is well-marked with both a "210" sign and a "do not enter" sign. But the path around the gate was well-worn, and the workers we saw coming down had only smiles for us. It may be that the sign is more of a "at your own risk" indication. This trail is a forestry road, wide and easy to walk. The first 1 km or so is grassland with some low trees and shrubs. After a large concrete wall to hold back a landslide, larger trees with low undergrowth predominate; this appears to be the main pheasant territory. Approx 3 km up the path is a major construction project, again to fix landslide damage. This included a full camp with cooking facilities, and some major construction equipment. I imagine it is a noisy place when they are working. However, we saw all the workers leave on late Saturday afternoon and all was quiet during our visit on Sunday. It appears that this construction will be going on for a long time. We saw many pheasant runways on either side of trail 210 from 2 km to the construction area, but the boldest male Mikado Pheasant we saw was below this area, at approx 1.5 km.
Trail 220 is at km 38, on the right going up. There is no sign to indicate trail 220, but again a "no entrance sign". In this case, there was also a second gate but it was easy to go around it. It seems improbable for a trail to be here, because the mountain drops off on that side, but this trail hugs the side. We only went a few hundred meters down this trail. It seems to be mostly low brush and secondary growth, but with beautiful views of the mountains.
Trail 230 is at the very top, with a large parking lot and convenience store - note that there is another parking lot a few km below the very top, so keep going until there is no road left. Trail 230 is also easy to see, again marked with a "do not enter" sign. But the second gate here was a bit more formidable, with little evidence of anyone going around it, so was with a bit of trepidation that we squeezed around it. There are large trees here, and many birds perched near the tops. There were also low shrubs. This is the high-altitude area of Anmashan, with some specialties here such as noisy Streak-throated Fulvettas.
SPECIES LIST (bold indicates endemic)