REPORTING BY Ray Au PHOTOS BY Martin Lerigo & Josef Raasch
Hike even a stretch of the 18.5-kilometre Chi Ma Wan Country Trail and you will be treated to some seriously majestic scenery. As you navigate the secluded bays and coves along the coast, you’ll be wowed by the desolate white-sand beaches which are alternately lapped and lashed by the tempestuous South China Sea. Peculiar rock formations on the headlands draw your eye inland to gently rolling hillsides and two towering peaks, where whitebellied sea eagles surf the air.
Heading inland into the ‘jungle,’ you’ll find vast plantations of trees, planted to reinvigorate valleys and hillsides denuded by hill fires. Given the poor soil and coastal location, early afforestation species were mostly large, fast-growing trees, such as Taiwan Acacia, Brisbane Box and Slash Pine. In recent years, native species like Chinese Hackberry, Fragrant Litsea, Camphor Tree, Reevesia, Chinese Banyan and Strawberry Tree have been introduced. These glorious woodlands in turn harbour native flora species like Tree Ginseng, sweet-scented Hong Kong Magnolia and the endangered Gmelina chinensis.
Many of the peninsula’s jungle trails are seldom used, which means you have a good chance of spotting some of Hong Kong’s most retiring wildlife on your trek. You may hear the distinctive cry, like that of a jackal, of a barking deer foraging on the upper slopes, and you’ll likely see tree squirrels moving nimbly through the trees. Be aware too that snakes are prevalent on these trails. Look out for a Burmese Python, Chinese Cobra or White-Lipped Pit Viper basking on the open path or an a nearby rocky outcrop – and keep a respectful distanceTags: Chi Ma wan, country park, trails