Elephant Rock & Keelung Guide / by Josiah Edbrooke

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Elephant Rock

Hiking Guide

This will be bit of a shorter guide for a landmark close to Keelung City called Elephant Rock. This stretch of the north coast is one my favorite places to explore. Everywhere you look there is a dramatic view of the mountains meeting the ocean around each corner. There is always a cool breeze that making exploring here much easier in the heat of the Taiwanese summer. 

Getter around on this part of Taiwan can be a tad tricky if you don't have your own car, but I have found with a little patience there are bus routes all along this stretch of the coastline. It's useful to plan your schedule out though as a missed bus can result in a fairly long wait for the next one. The traffic on the coastal road can get a little congested heading back towards Keelung, so I suggest you keep an eye on the time if you have a time limit! 

 The maritime museum close to Keelung. f1.8, ISO 200, 1/200, 35mm

The maritime museum close to Keelung. f1.8, ISO 200, 1/200, 35mm

 Elephant Rock headland with Mt Keelung in the background. f1.8, ISO 200, 1/1600, 35mm

Elephant Rock headland with Mt Keelung in the background. f1.8, ISO 200, 1/1600, 35mm

The easiest bus to catch to get to 791 that goes all along the north coast road to Elephant rock. Make sure you hop off the bus at Shenao harbor and it is 20 to 30 min walk to the rock on the headland. There is a rough trail to follow but it does require clambering over the odd rock here and there. It's fairly easy though, just keep and eye on the tide here as parts of the trail skirt the rock beach. If it's fairly wet and rainy I would suggest you wait until it's better weather. The last thing you want to do is slip and hurt yourself on the rocks here.  There are some nice little inlets before you reach the headland that give a nice view of the headland and Jiufen in the background. If you can catch it a certain light there are some pretty dramatic pictures to be had. Unfortunately it was fairly overcast when I visited, but I still managed to get some nice BnW pictures out of it!

When I visited here there was a pretty steady stream of tourist going to the rock, so just follow the crowd and you should be just fine. Once you get the the actual Elephant rock there are a few interesting shots and angles you can capture. With some simple bouldering you can climb on top of the famous rock formation for a classic asian selfie. 

 Elephant Rock. f1.8, ISO 200, 1/160, 35mm

Elephant Rock. f1.8, ISO 200, 1/160, 35mm

The headland is covered in interesting rock formations similar to the ones you might find at Yeuliu Geo Park. Here you don't need the entrance fee though! It's all very outer space looking I think personally, I'm no geologist but it would be interesting to find out how the odd shapes are formed! Next to the rock is a strange abandoned bunker thats been build into the rock. The coastal erosion has knocked away part of the connecting tunnel but it is an interesting little feature none the less! 

 View from the Bunker window. f1.8, ISO 200, 1/320, 35mm

View from the Bunker window. f1.8, ISO 200, 1/320, 35mm

A little further along from Elephant rock there are a few outcrops that stick out over the ocean which make for a good selfie, providing you have a good head for heights! The nice thing about this headland is the view you get of the whole stretch of the north coast all the way form Bitou to Keelung pretty much. Even in the gray and rainy weather is was strikingly rough and pretty I think! Hopefully in the future I'll have time to explore the east coast a little further south and see what sights it has to offer! 

 Don't slip! f1.8, ISO 200, 1/500, 35mm

Don't slip! f1.8, ISO 200, 1/500, 35mm

 The stormy north coast road. f11, ISO 1600, 1/50, 150mm

The stormy north coast road. f11, ISO 1600, 1/50, 150mm

 docked tanker in the bay. f11, ISO 1600, 1/30, 150mm

docked tanker in the bay. f11, ISO 1600, 1/30, 150mm

Once you make it back to Keelung there are some nice photo spots if you are willing to do a bit of a exploring. Keelung isn't a huge town but there are some nice temples around the place that look pretty cool at night. If the wind is calm you can get some nice reflection shots in the harbor too. Depending on the day, there will be large cruise ships and tankers heading in and out of the day you can try to photography. I found long exposure shots worked nicely in this area of the city, if you are able to smooth out the water the colours pop nicely! 

 Keelung pier. f22, ISO 200, 40, 35mm

Keelung pier. f22, ISO 200, 40, 35mm

 Land ahoy! f22, ISO 200, 40, 35mm

Land ahoy! f22, ISO 200, 40, 35mm

One other interesting little spot in Keelung I found was Zhongzheng park. It's located on the opposite side of the harbor to the train station and has some pretty nice views of downtown Keelung. There's a large castle looking temple at the top of the hill that looks like it's straight out of a manga movie. It is a bit of a trek to get up there, but as long as you follow the path you shouldn't have too many problems. I was lucky enough to get here just after a brief shower, which meant I was able to get some interesting reflections in the puddles of the temple. It almost looked like portals to a Studio Ghibli film! 

 The temple at the top of the hill. f1.8, ISO 3200, 1/20, 35mm

The temple at the top of the hill. f1.8, ISO 3200, 1/20, 35mm

To sum up then, I would say Elephant Rock is an interesting place to check out, but probably not somewhere you would stay for a long amount of time. If you have the time and travel means, the north coast road has lots of interesting alcoves and headlands you could explore in one day, not just Elephant Rock. Once you head back to Keelung there is plenty of interesting nightlife and nighttime urban pictures to be snapped too! 

I hope this helps you fellow explorers!

Until next time

Sy Edbrooke ^^