Did you know that around half of the landmass in Hong Kong is actually made up of natural parks? Our urban jungle, known the world over for high finance and big city life, is actually a nature lover’s dream with its lush green mountains, vibrant wetlands and expansive sandy beaches. If you are looking to become an intrepid explorer (and get a workout in) but don’t know where to start, have we got the ultimate guide for you! We have unearthed three brilliant dudes who make it their mission to showcase Hong Kong’s wilder side. Every one of them is an adventure junkie, a Hong Kong cultural and historical expert, and they all offer an incredible selection of eco-tours and nature-based activities for everyone from those looking for a weekend adrenaline rush to nature newbies who want to see more than concrete buildings. We are so excited to share these with you: we LOVE Hong Kong!
Wild Hong Kong
Offering primarily hiking and cycling tours, with kayaking and SUP/paddle boarding soon to launch, Wild Hong Kong has a selection of tours for all fitness abilities. The company is headed by Rory Mackay, an avid adventurer and cycler who biked across Africa solo. Wild’s beautiful and easy-to-use site offers five hiking tours and two cycling options, all of which can be booked pretty much any day of the week with some notice. Their Tai Mo Shan Waterfalls hike is a gem! It takes place in the Tai Mo Shan Country Park, which is just south of Tai Po and allows you to explore the Ng Tung Chai falls, a series of waterfalls that includes the tallest one in Hong Kong, clocking it at 35 meters. The hike takes about five hours, has some seriously strenuous sections, and costs HKD 500. Their Plover Cove Ride and Hike combines a day of cycling and hiking into one memorable adventure. For HKD 700, you will ride around gorgeous Plover Cove before searching for waterfalls in the jungles of Hong Kong. We should call out that their website’s blog is a fantastic resource for those looking to learn a little more about the city’s greener side, and it may have the most beautiful photos of Hong Kong’s natural splendor we have ever seen. You can also create customized tours for a range of activities including diving, paddle boarding/SUP, wake boarding, rock climbing, paragliding, paint balling, treasure hunts and deep sea fishing. Basically you can go as wild as you want!
Book through their website here.
Countryside Adventure Tours
Run by Wouter van Marle, a Dutch national who came to Hong Kong in 2002, Countryside Adventure Tours offers fourteen different group tours, each of which allows you to explore a different side of Hong Kong and learn a little urban history on the way. The schedule is really convenient- there are daily tours from Wednesday through Sunday every week. Wouter also has an very user-friendly calendar on the website, from which you can follow the link to each activity’s page, where they are all described in detail. Everything you need to know for your adventure, including a difficulty rating and at what age children can attend the tour (most activities are fine for children six and older) is explained clearly. The tour selection is varied and includes many activities such as bat and firefly watching, hiking, boat tours, and snorkling and kayaking trips in the summer. To get your blood pumping, The Ghost Villages of the New Territories hike is suitable for children eight and older, is HKD 390 and includes eight hours exploring the New Territories. Adventurers will learn about Hong Kong’s colorful history, whilst visiting abandoned villages and trekking through lush forests, before finishing at the dramatic formations of Hong Kong’s very own Geopark. Or, get your blood pumping on the Ponds & Waterfalls Hike, HKD 150 for a 5 hour excursion during which you will hike along the river, meaning rocky terrain, past Bride’s Pool, Mirror Pool and the Mirror Pool Waterfall. you can even take a dip to cool off at the end in a natural swimming hole! Wouter can also arrange bespoke private tours on weekdays depending on your group’s requirements.
Book through their calendar here.
Hansen’s Hikes & Rides
Run by Michael Hansen, who has over a decade of experience and is the go-to city guide for groups such as the American Women’s Association and The Harvard Club of Hong Kong, Hansen’s Hikes & Rides offers a variety of hiking and biking adventures all over Hong Kong. What makes them truly is special is Michael’s deep and unique understanding of not just the landscape, but the city’s history as well. He knows the ins and outs behind every temple, every traditional clan house, every ghost village- his breadth of knowledge is truly amazing! There are a huge number of hikes to choose from- Michael can take you anywhere and everywhere. He sends out a weekly newsletter which offers detailed information as to what to expect including difficulty level. We love the Po Toi Island Hike explores the small island of Po Toi located south of Hong Kong Island (reachable by only one ferry a day), will cost you HKD 300 and take a little over 5 hours. Enjoy your day away from the crowds taking in the sea view while visiting the southernmost point in Hong Kong, before digging in to a well deserved seafood lunch. The Giro Del Norte Bike Ride is also HK 300 and lasts around seven hours. This ride will take you past mangrove forests, ancient temples, traditional villages and views of the Plover Cove Reservoir. Hansen’s Hikes & Rides also overs private events which can be fully customized. In addition, those looking to explore the concrete jungle can participate in an urban hike such as Murder and Mayhem in Kowloon. Finally, this uber-guide organises photography tours for panorama-shot addicts, try the trip to Cheung Chau to grab some great shots of the waterfront and the beautiful beaches.
You can find an schedule of upcoming adventures here but you should also contact Hansen’s at firstname.lastname@example.org for bookings.
September 2016 Update: Hansen’s Hikes & Rides is currently on hiatus and not hosting any tours.
Special Mention – HK Explorers Initiative (HKEI)
Supported by the National Geographic Society and started by Hong Kong native Laurel Chor, HK Explorers Initiative (HKEI) is a volunteer association whose mission is to help you become an explorer of Hong Kong with the goal to develop and maintain a crowdsourced database of Hong Kong’s local flora and fauna. They schedule regular Hong Kong Expeditions, which offer a unique way to see Hong Kong and it’s wildnerness up close. Past adventures include birdwatching at the Mai Po Nature Reserve, an excursion guided by a WWF interpreter as well as a SCMP conservation journalist that included a game of “Bird Bingo” to encourage you to find as many birds as possible.
Photo Credits: Countryside Adventure Tours, Hansen’s Hikes & Rides, HK Explorers Initiative (HKEI), and Wild Hong Kong.