Hong Kong, widely acclaimed for its skyscrapers, pulsating nightlife and world-class shopping, may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of wildlife and untamed topography. However, Asia’s world city has its fine share of nature reserves where you can discover the city’s rugged and remote side, coupled with an exotic wildlife. Take a look at some popular nature reserves in and around Hong Kong.

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Hong Kong Global Geopark of Chine

It was declared a National Geopark in 2009, and radiates an elemental charm with its fascinating rock formations, spectacular landscapes, teeming tide pools and untamed islands made of volcanic fragments and magma. The park is where you can spot the oldest (Tolo Channel) and the youngest (Tung Ping Chau) rocks found in Hong Kong. A tranquil milieu makes it a favourite haunt of nature enthusiasts seeking a peaceful escape from Hong Kong’s bustling city life. Some areas in the park seem totally untouched, while others are inhabited by local villagers. Must-see attractions here include Sharp Island, High Island, Ninepin Group, and Port Island & Bluff Head. Hire a local guide to know about the history of the rocks here.

Mai Po Nature Reserve

Full of marshes, mudflats and small water-bodies where as many as 400 species of birds can be spotted, Mai Po Nature Reserve is a great place for nature buffs, especially birdwatchers. The beautiful landscape keeps drawing tourists in large numbers. Some of the commonly spotted birds here include the Saunders’s Gull, Mudskippers, and the Black-faced Spoonbill. The best time to visit the park is during spring and autumn, when plenty of birds visit the area’s wetlands to feed on fish, shrimp and other small aquatic creatures. As the park is listed in Hong Kong’s Wild Animals Protection Ordinance, one needs permission to enter the area.

Hong Kong Wetland Park

A beautiful mix of nature and technology, this world-class eco-tourism park is a big hit among nature-enthusiasts. The park boasts a wide range of activities and exhibitions that offer visitors a peek into the region’s rich flora & fauna. The park’s Wetland Interactive World plays host to an assortment of themed exhibitions, enthralling outdoor adventures, interactive movies and more to teach visitors about the significance of wetland conservation. The Wetland Reserve, another section in the park, has a number of walking trails, which offer you a closer proximity to the regional wildlife, including birds, reptiles, and mammals.

Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park

Hoi Ha Wan is a sheltered bay with a great variety of marine organisms, making it a hot spot for diving. The pristine waters here serve as home to numerous kinds of corals, fish and other aqua creatures. Naturally, marine-life enthusiasts flock to the park from far and wide. As a protected ecosystem, the park is away from human intervention; fishing, boating, collecting corals, and other such activities in the area are strictly prohibited. To get to the park, one needs to follow the upward path from the Hoi Ha Village. The corals found here are called brain corals, owing to their round shape and twisted surface patterns. Tourists who plan to take a closer look should buy snorkelling gear at the village.

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