Eco tours show visitors the natural hot spots of Hong Kong
Five new excursions turn spotlight on the city's noisy animal inhabitants and offer visitors a chance to learn about ecology, history and culture
Fancy going on a guided "night safari" on Lamma Island amid the croaking and chirping of frogs and crickets? Now you can.
It is one of eight eco-tours on Hong Kong and Lamma islands from which nature lovers can now choose in order to explore some of the city's rarest wildlife and most spectacular scenery.
Organisers launched five new tours yesterday, adding to three others on Lamma that are already running. The tours cost HK$20 per person.
The nocturnal trip around Lamma, which begins and ends at the Sok Kwu Wan ferry pier, will run only during the summer and features what organisers call the "Symphony of the Pond".
"I was a Boy Scout when I was small, and I've walked most of the eight routes," said Elvis Au Wai-kwong, assistant director for nature conservation and infrastructure planning in the Environmental Protection Department. "You can hear male frogs croak between spring and summer to attract females, and there are many types of croaking."
All the tours are jointly organised by the Conservancy Association and Hongkong Electric, which supplies power to both islands.
In total, the routes cover about 30 kilometres and take roughly 16 hours to finish.
An online vote rated the "Symphony of the Pond" one of the city's top eight eco-heritage spots.
The other seven top sites can be found along the remaining tour routes: "Tai Tam Stone Bridges" in the Tai Tam Country Park; "Aberdeen Upper Reservoir" in Aberdeen Country Park; "Short-legged Toad" in Lung Fu Shan Country Park; and, on Lamma, "Mudskippers" - amphibious fish that use their pectoral fins to walk on land; "Lamma Winds" - the wind power generator; "Mudflats"; and "Boat House".
Ken So Kwok-yin, chief executive of the association, stressed the importance of treasuring nature in the tours.
"You need to have a sense of appreciation and respect," he said. "If you are constantly disturbing others or destroying the environment, this is not the proper [attitude].
"If you have the right attitude, your physical and mental health will benefit."
Michael Wong Ho-man, 29, who is studying for a master's degree in environmental management at the University of Hong Kong, is one of 150 volunteer guides who have undergone training to take participants on the eco-tours.
"What impresses me the most is that besides the ecology, the eco-tours talk a lot about culture and history," he said. "I have come to know what the last boat house in Hong Kong looks like … Fishermen dragged a boat ashore [to form part of the house]."