WONDERFULLY, much of Victoria Peak remains a wooded wilderness. A stroll around it still feels like a Hong Kong version of going on safari. Tourists flock into the tram company's new Swiss carriages and shopping complex, but few discover the Peak's woodland walking routes. They begin at the Peak tram terminus, where a map-board details the area's country parkland Hong Kong Trail (starting here), joggers' exercise circuit and roads up and around the Peak. The Peak's simplest walking route, from Harlech Road into Lugard Road or vice versa, is a level, 45-minute sight-seeing treat. It encircles a tree-decked wonderland dotted with grand mansions and imbued with an ambience of ancient natural beauty. It is a man-made ambience, as the terminus display of photographs illustrates. A century ago, Victoria Peak was a stark treeless area atop a truly ''barren island''. Its verdant beauty is a welcome legacy of the colonial era when only a privileged few were allowed to live on the Peak. Their leafy lanes add sweet freshness to the mountain's breeze-cooled air. One of the roadside banyans looks as old as the hills, with its 10,000 bristly strands hanging in a thick curtain whose ends were trimmed and knotted to keep the road passable. Straight as telegraph poles, the banyan's three-storey-high side stems resemble stalactites, and the tree is a magic sight when sunlight beams through surrounding glades. A newer roadside spectacle along Lugard Road is the fanciful gazebo erected amid a mansion's landscaped grounds. Closed-circuit television cameras watch the main gate and the glass-walled, air-conditioned gazebo. Set on its roof are two statues in the distinctive style of Ju Ming, a famous Taiwanese sculptor. Another of his figures reclines casually on a garden balustrade facing the house's raked, plate-glass windows. Natural figures in the landscape are long-tailed kites. Resident harbour scavengers, they gracefully lower frond-like tails when alighting on the branches of their Peak-side woodland roosts. Then, suddenly, they take off into invisible air currents, gliding over the harbour. Enjoy their spectacular viewpoint from lookout points on narrow Lugard Road. The first overlooks the Western anchorage and Hong Kong University's patchwork of roofs and architectural designs. They include the blue-green Chinoiserie of the Robert Black buildings, the regimented blackness of the surviving Old Hall and the Lego looks of the Shaw family's blocks. Further on, it is easy to see why Hong Kong's Victorians built grand mansions here. Be glad they also created a grandly wooded circuit around the sides of their fabulous Peak. The Peak Public transport For a total sightseeing trip, take the tram up and return on the top deck of CMB No 15 to Exchange Square. Routes of green minibuses from City Hall reveal other aspects of the Peak and its lifestyles. There are several scenic walking routes down to Central. Refreshments Take own picnic. Reference Countryside Series map-sheet for Hong Kong Island.