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HONG KONG IS A WONDERFUL DESTINATION FOR LOVERS OF THE GREAT OUTDOORS

By Karisa Lui

It's a popular annual event and it is, indeed, called Great Outdoors Hong Kong. From now until late February next year, visitors to the region can enjoy a variety of active events organized by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) and various local organizations.

 

These include cycling and hiking tours that explore Hong Kong's spectacular and diverse outdoor regions as well as in-depth explorations of areas renowned for their wildlife. From the Hong Kong Global Geopark of China to remote beaches and ancient villages, from serene islands to the wetland homes of thousands of birds, there's something on offer for every active traveller and nature lover.

The guided cycle tour and hikes are detailed in a hard-copy or e-guidebook that can be downloaded at http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/see-do/events-festivals/highlight-events/great-outdoors.jsp. This guide is full of practical information from transportation details to elevation charts. Routes are classified from 'easy' to 'difficult' and are organized around a variety of themes and landscapes.

For those who like to sightsee on two wheels, a guided tour organized by the HKTB takes participants from Sha Tin to Tai Po in the company of local cyclists who can provide insights into this area. For this, and other independent cycle explorations of Hong Kong, bikes can be rented from a variety of locations in Hong Kong and the New Territories. There is also a regular commercial biking tour for which bikes are provided. Details can be found at:
http://www.discoverhongkong.com/ca/see-do/tours-walks/guided-tours/nature/hong-kong-biking-tour.jsp.

Mountain biking on a variety of challenging and spectacular country park trails is also possible in the region. However, passes must be acquired beforehand. They are free and are issued by the Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department. This site has the details: http://www.afcd.gov.hk/english/country/cou_vis/cou_vis_mou/cou_vis_mou.html.

The HKTB hikes, that range from three to seven hours, are led by experienced local hikers. They cover woodlands and wetlands, farmlands and vast reservoirs surrounded by mountains, areas with unique geological features and heritage as well as the famous route with spectacular urban views that is known as 'The Dragon's Back'.

In addition to these activities, various other organizations offer both free and charged English-language nature tours during the fall and winter seasons. Complimentary guided tours are available at the Hong Kong Wetland Park, the Ngong Ping Nature Centre and at the Mai Po Wetland.

The Wetland Park (adjacent to the Mai Po Inner Deep Bay Ramsar Site) is one of the best locations for observing migratory waterfowl in Hong Kong. Over 230 bird species have been recorded in this beautiful park. The Bird Watching Festival here runs from 6 November 2013 until 31 March 2014, during which time the park offers a variety of bird-watching activities for all ages.

Free guided tours are also available from the Ngong Ping Nature Centre on lush Lantau Island. These tours will provide participants with intriguing insights into the rich cultural and religious landmarks that make this beautiful island so special.

Those who become 'hooked' on Hong Kong outdoors should save a Saturday for a free three-hour tour of the Mai Po Wetland Experience – a nature lover's dream location. This nature reserve is internationally recognized as an annual staging ground and wintering site for approximately 90,000 migratory water birds, as well as a home to a wide range of other wetland wildlife.

So ... get out your hiking boots or cycle shoes, organize your back-pack, and head to Hong Kong for a variety of memorable experiences in 'Great Outdoors Hong Kong'.