30 Apr Kam Shan Country Park – Monkey Hill
Hong Kong is proud of its many protected country parks. Kam Shan Country Park happens to be one of the city’s first and is particularly famous for its monkeys (macaques). Home to approximately 1,800 monkeys and 4 reservoirs, the park, known to many as Monkey Hill, makes a great spot for hikers for fantastic views of New Territories and a large number of wartime ruins remain well preserved in the area.
It is said that 70% of Hong Kong monkeys live in the area around Kam Shan Country Park, almost all of which are thought to be descended from a few released pets from the 1920s. After the indigenous Hong Kong macaque species all but died out due to loss of habitat and hunting, the Rhesus and Long-tailed varieties that appeared in its place have evidently fared a good deal better.
Indeed, in the last twenty years or so, the number of monkeys in Hong Kong has grown from around 600 to over 2000 in the territory as a whole, with the annual growth rate currently reaching around 7% a year. Given that Hong Kong’s actual birth rate of just 0.9 is now one of the lowest in the world, is it really such an imaginative leap to envisage helper monkeys on the MTR, or monkey waiters in Tsui Wah, in the not too distant future?
Well, probably yes, but take a trip to Monkey Mountain almost any weekend and you won’t struggle to understand why the population of Hong Kong monkeys has grown so rapidly, as you watch members of our own allegedly more intelligent species throwing peanuts from car windows, distributing biscuits and generally giving little cause to doubt any one of the 93.5 per cent of DNA we share with our fellow residents.
Kam Shan Country Park has more than just monkeys of course. The park covers an area of 3.37 km² and takes its name from the 369m peak that marks the highest point of the area. Kowloon’s four main reservoirs occupy much of the park’s territory. There are also jogging trails, barbecue and picnic areas, and innumerable hiking opportunities, all of which are easily accessible from Tai Po Road next to Kowloon Reservoir.
From the summit of Kam Shan there are good views back towards Hong Kong Island, as well as Tai Mo Shan to the north, Sha Tin and Lion Rock to the east, and Tsing Yi and Tsuen Wan in the west. There are also remnants from Hong Kong’s wartime defences, with many bunkers still visible along Smugglers’ Ridge and the abandoned, underground complex that made up Shing Mun Redoubt definitely worth exploring.
The park also sees stage 6 of both the Maclehose Trail and the Wilson Trail passing through, each of which cross the hills towards Shing Mun Reservoir and give excellent views of the surrounding areas before continuing their way into the New Territories. Added to this there is the shorter Kam Shan Family Walk and the Kam Shan Tree Walk, as well as numerous other short walking routes to enjoy.
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