Tucked away in the hills behind Kowloon lies a hidden wealth. Amongst picturesque landscapes shrouded in thick jungle, interspersed with azure lakes lies the domain of Hong Kong’s wild chiefs. This is Kam Shan, realm of the monkey.
Located between northwestern Kowloon and Sha Tin, Kam Shan Country Park is indeed synonymous for its populations of wild monkeys. However, the area has plenty of other attractions to offer folk from all walks of life. For the more relaxed visitors to the area, it possesses are several custom made nature and family trails. These showcase the very best of the regions scenery and the great diversity of HK’s wildlife. Then for the more intrepid, there are many options for more exciting hiking and mountain biking trails running out of Kam Shan. One superb aspect of Kam Shan Country Park is its proximity to the city and the accessibility that comes with this. The most common way to get into the area is by catching the number 81 KMB bus from Nathan Road (This bus can also be ridden in the opposite direction from Tai Wai), disembarking at
Arriving at the bus stop, you will soon be confronted by many monkeys, invariably a troop of Rhesus Macaques. Although the Rhesus species is native to Hong Kong, the macaques found today are believed to be re-introduced. In the 1910’s during the construction of Kowloon Reservoir, the apes were deployed to the surrounding areas in order to combat the spread of a fruit that tainted the water supply. They can roam in large numbers and enjoy the area around Tai Po Road, as the rubbish bins and increased human presence provides the chance of finding a meal. There are signs at the park entrance spelling out the dos and don’ts in regards to the monkeys. From experience, simply be relaxed. Don’t approach the monkeys with food and they will mind their own monkey business. Direct eye contact and sudden movements won’t endear you to them either. With those unpleasantries out of the way, the monkeys are great fun to watch and can be extremely photogenic!
Although you’re not supposed to feed the animals, some people do. As a result, the monkeys will approach you if you have food and there is also a lot of wild boar in the area. The boars are harmless and are a real treat to spot. On the way to the top of the monkey mountain there is also the Kam Shan Family Trail, which makes for a pleasant detour. Back down beside the Kowloon Reservoir, you can also leave the road to explore the Kam Shan Tree Walk. This consists of a well signposted pathway leading to Shek Lei Pui and back, highlighting the many different types of flora and fauna along the way. For those who wish to head further a field, there are extensive networks of mountain biking trails running out of Kowloon reservoir to the west. If you’re a hiker, there is a lot on offer in many directions. The best route to do in my opinion is to follow the Maclehose Trail eastwards and hike up towards Lion Rock.
You’ll very quickly descend back into the city and that monkey mountain will seem a million miles away. A world of dense rainforests guarded by troops of charismatic macaques. Yes, in Hong Kong!