See clouds of purple butterflies

An easy hour and a half drive from Taiwan's vibrant port of Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second city and a similar distance from the cultural hub of Tainan there is a completely different world. This world is Maolin, where the people look different and speak a different language; the houses are built by hand using local slate and at certain times of year, clouds made up of a million purple butterflies bounce around the rolling mountains and deep valleys.

The butterflies are most numerous in the winter months, December to February in particular, but for nature lovers and those wishing to find yet another face to Taiwan, it is well worth including Maolin in your tour whatever time of year it is (I was there in October and there still seemed to be a lot of butterflies about!). This beautiful and sparsely populated region is inhabited mostly by indigenous people who roamed Taiwan long before the majority Han Chinese started turning up in the last few hundred years. Their authentic aboriginal culture, food, laid back philosophy and unique style of architecture is alive and well here and a pleasant day can be spent exploring the village of Maolin and 2 other nearby aboriginal villages of Do Na and Wanshan and walking on some of the many mountain trails. Maolin is also one of the best places in Taiwan for bird-watching.

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