Earlier this month, I had a chance to go to the Lion Rock Park and Kam Shan Park area in Kowloon. There, macaques, or monkeys were introduced to the areas in the 1920’s and have since gone feral. There are about 2,100 of them at last count. (ref).
We took a taxi up, and the local bus back down. The 81 or 72 bus can get you there. Check here if you want to take the bus.
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We went on the hike and didn’t run into any problems with either monkeys or people. Some basic precautions are in order, as always. Since you’ll be hiking in the park, lock up unnecessary valuables before you go. Try to minimize loose jewelry and expensive accessories. If you’re bringing a camera or camcorder (of course you are right?) then make sure you have sturdy straps on them and wear them. (slideshow after the jump)Don’t bring food. If you have to bring food, make sure it’s wrapped securely and keep it in your backpack or bag. DO bring water. Always bring water bottles when hiking in Hong Kong. Even an easy hike can leave you dehydrated or worse, with heat exhaustion or a heat stroke if you are not careful.
We did not have any major problems with monkeys becoming aggressive, nor baring fangs. There was one monkey who adopted an aggressive posture, and it was solved quite simply by moving away from it. One monkey bared fangs, that’s the one I have a photo of, but it was for only a second and really could have been a yawn more than anything else. Even so, your experience may differ. You may have a different vibe or scent or who-knows-what that the monkeys pick up on. However, following the suggestions above and moving quietly, and calmly as you walk will help you have the best possible experience. If you are traveling with a partner, then it’d be good to keep low, calm voices when talking.
As a photo expedition it went very well. I was able to get under three feet away from the monkeys. I regretted not bringing my SB800 flash unit, as I think it would have helped in some of the photos with heavy back lighting. I also learned I need more work on using flash. I’m so used to just shooting natural light. If you enjoy travel photography, Monkey Hill is a must-see when in Hong Kong. (caveat: if animals scare you and having no control over them or lifeline/ranger/zookeeper to bail you out if they become aggressive terrifies you, then skip it!)
One last thing before the slide show. Whatever you do no not feed the monkeys! Similarly, do not tease or abuse them either! Have a great trip!