Following in the dragon's footsteps

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 July, 2008, 12:00am


Until you have tackled the Dragon's Back trail near Shek O, you cannot say you have seen the magnificent panoramic view of Hong Kong's Southern District.

Most people start at the Tai Tam Country Park, Hong Kong's largest country park, and weave through green hillsides and sharp peaks, and past a reservoir built in 1888. This trail was named Best Urban Hike in Asia in 2004 by Time (Asia) magazine.

You soon come to the Shek O Country Park, and then you can climb to the start of the rugged Dragon's Back. It can be a tiring climb to the top of the ridge, but it's worth it for the breeze and the wonderful view of the beaches and golf course in Shek O on one side and the beautiful Red Hill residences on the other.

Hong Kong may suffer from terrible pollution, but if you head to the Dragon's Back on a clear day, the views will remind you of how beautiful Hong Kong is and how important conservation efforts are.

The trail is a popular hiking destination during the holidays, with small groups of hikers heading up to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

As well as views of Hong Kong's less familiar scenery, you will be surprised by the variety of wildlife.

Plants are numerous and varied and there are a couple of mini-waterfalls where you can stop and cool off.

Experienced Dragon's Backers say this is the best time of the year to catch a glimpse of some of the territory's butterflies. You can also see birds of prey.

It's best to set aside a whole day so you can enjoy the sights.

Tips and tricks:

Take bus number 9 from Shau Kei Wan Bus Terminus and get off at Tai Tam Gap or To Tei Wan near Shek O. The number 9 or a minibus will take you back to Shau Kei Wan MTR Station.

It's about a three-hour hike from Shek O to Tai Tam Gap.

Another option for keen hikers and swimmers is to take the longer route to Big Wave Bay instead of Tai Tam Gap, ending at the beach before taking a minibus back to Shau Kei Wan.

Avoid hiking in the middle of the day. The best time to set out is very early in the morning or later in the afternoon but well before the dark.

Check the weather forecast before setting out. The area is at risk from mudslides in the case of heavy rain.

Wear appropriate hiking shoes and bring sufficient water for a fun and safe hike.

Always tell someone where you are going and bring a mobile phone in case of emergencies.