SITTING on the veranda of a semi-detached log cabin managed by members of the indigenous Truku tribe, I close my eyes and draw breath. The air is thick with a sweet, nocturnal symphony of insects and chirruping cicadas, which envelops me like a swooning lover beneath a sky studded with twinkling white jewels.

Under the cover of almost perfect darkness nestled between the sleeping giants of Taroko National Park’s mountains, the secluded Taiwanese plateau thrums with the electricity of urgent, unstoppable, unseen life.

Mother Nature holds sway here and she can be ferocious. During humid summer months, monsoon and typhoon seasons follow in quick succession, deluging a small island state less than half the size of Scotland or Ireland, which experiences hundreds of tremors every year from shifts in the ocean’s tectonic plates off its eastern coast.

Roughly 70 per cent of the island is mountainous, concentrating a population of 23.58 million Chinese Taiwanese, mainland Chinese and indigenous peoples in Taipei to the north and Kaohsiung, Taichung and Tainan along the western coast. Venturing off these beaten tracks demands sturdy hiking boots, waterproof clothing and reasonable levels of fitness.

I arrive in the urban jungle of the capital after a 13.5-hour flight from London, and pay due reverence to the blue-green glass curtain walls of Taipei 101, once the world’s tallest skyscraper until Burj Khalifa in Dubai reached even higher for the stars.

Pomp and pageantry abounds, from the ceremonial rifle-twirling of hourly changing guards at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to the theatrical handiwork of chefs at Din Tai Fung (, who fastidiously fill, pleat and steam thousands of signature soup dumplings.

Before the sun sets, we undertake our first climb, scurrying up Elephant Mountain to savour the panoramic views of a cityscape as it flickers with ochre light.

There are nine national parks on the island and Taipei provides a gateway to the scenic splendour of Yangmingshan. During a 90-minute drive north from the capital, we flirt with motion sickness on winding roads, stopping briefly to admire heaving boughs of cherry blossom, rhododendrons and blushing pink azaleas at the month-long Yangminghan Flower Festival.

It’s just a short distance from the meticulously tended display through Beitou district to the start of Xiaoyoukeng Trail, which is dominated by the twin peaks of Mount Qixing.

Rising 1,120 metres into this morning’s overcast skies, the dormant volcano is the highest vantage point in the park for hikers.

Bilingual warning signs about poisonous snakes and wasps on the trail inspire nervous glances into the arrow bamboo groves, which provide a gently swaying guard of honour at the start of the 1.6km ascent.

Further up, vegetation has been battered into submission by monsoons, but groves of bird-lime trees - which usually grow at higher altitudes - take root in the unusual climatic conditions.

As the uneven stone pathway rises, becoming so steep in places that I’m forced to use hands and feet to clamber up rain-slicked steps, I feel my legs burn.

Roughly an hour after we begin the climb, the wooden marker of the summit materialises out of the swirling vapour. On a clear day, you can see the Datun volcano group to the north and the confluence of the Keelung and Xindian into the mighty coiling serpent of the Dan Shui River.

The descent along the East Peak path has a couple of heart-stopping moments but thankfully, I defy gravity and ease my shaking legs with a soothing dip in the Lengshuikeng hot spring pool at the end of the trail. The 40-degree cascade of water feels delicious against my skin.

The following day, we bid farewell to the capital and take the Puyuma Express to Hualien along the eastern coast, covering 160km in just over two hours in a roomy standard class carriage for NT$ 426 (£11).

Mother Nature clears her throat and greets our arrival in Hualien with sunshine, where a hearty meal including mushroom, clam and loofah squash soup preludes an introduction to outdoor activity experts from Love Wilds (

For the more adventuorus, an afternoon of river tracing is an option requiring you to don a wetsuit and head into the wild for which you’ll pay around NT$ 1020 (£25) for the privilege.

My final day is spent hiking, taking in the Baiyang Trail in Taroko National Park which is a particular favourite for families.

A suspension bridge leads to a viewing platform for the Baiyang Waterfall. yet another wonder of nature which I’m privileged to witness on my tour.

Before I landed I had the common vision that Taiwan was all high rises, neon and hi-tech.

But actually, Mother Natue still rules supreme if youy’re prepared to seek her out.