Smangus (司馬庫斯) is one of Taiwan’s most remote aboriginal villages.  So far remote, that it has developed for itself an air of mystery and has become a popular, if not difficult to get to, destination.

I recently took a short trip there to help Taiwan Adventures develop a future tour to the area.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have as much time to explore the village and surrounding sights as we would have liked, but I will return soon with a better report.  Check the website or facebook page for more information about organized trips…  read on for more photos and information.

A thick, bamboo forest in Smangus, Taiwan.

A hiker enjoys the bamboo forest near Smangus, Taiwan.

Smangus is a remote Atayal village set in Jianshi Township, Hsinchu County, Taiwan.  It is so remote, that it only received electricity in 1979.  So remote, that the first road there wasn’t completed until 1995!  So remote, that it does in fact have a completely different feel to any remote village I’ve ever been in in Taiwan.

It feels different because unlike many other mountains villages, the residents all seem busy and happy.  Smangus is an experiment in communal living.  They all share the work and all get paid the same wages.  A small school has recently been built in the village, and the children get free tuition and a small stipend for attending.  We noticed a morning meeting that seemed to be about the day’s work but couldn’t understand because it was in the local Atayal language.  We also noticed happy villagers heading off to do their work a few minutes later, many heading down the hiking path to collect plants in the forest.

Smangus, Taiwan.

An overview of the village of Smangus.

A nice place to work outside, right?

This is the nice lady that runs the very simple convenience store in Smangus.

One big attraction for going to Smangus is the 12km round trip hike to a grove of ancient trees.  The oldest of these trees is a 2,700 year old giant red cypress.  The hike is not too difficult and takes about 5 hours return, with some time to admire the old trees and the beautiful forest.

Unfortunately for us on this trip, Stu had hurt his leg in a motorcycle accident a few days before, so we only made it to the bamboo grove.  Fortunately for us, the bamboo grove is quite a sight, and we found ourselves admiring this wonderful natural oasis for some time.  The grove is only about 1-1.5k from the village and can be visited in an hour.

The trail crosses several small streams on its way to the bamboo and ancient tree groves.

The trail crosses several small streams on its way to the bamboo and ancient tree groves.

One of the many small bridges that needs to be crossed on the trail to Smangus’s bamboo and ancient tree groves.

The pristine hiking trail near Smangus is full of beautiful bamboo, ferns, and other flora.

I’m not sure of the total process, but small holes are drilled into these logs, then set in the forest to cultivate mushrooms.

A Smangus villager rides his motorcycle to collect produce on the hiking trail.

A traditionally made backpack used for collecting produce sits near the trail to the ancient trees.

Tall, green bamboo grows in Smangus’s bamboo grove.

The tall, thick bamboo forest is quite a nice sight.

There is no public bus to Smangus, so the only way to get there is by your own transportation, or an organized tour.  Taiwan Adventures will be organizing group tours periodically, but is also available for private groups.

The next group hike is Dec 1-2, 2012.  Email or check out the specifics on the facebook group.

For more information, check out David on Formosa


Categories: Must See Taiwan, TAIWAN, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Smangus

  1. Taiwan looks like a great place to visit. You got some great shots of this little village.

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