“After every step I think I have reached the highest point. But no, the path goes higher and further. Drops of sweat are beading down my neck and I am happy with the large bottle of water I have with me.” We walk part of the Mac Lehose trail: from East Reservoir Dam to Sai Wan beach. A nice hike with some tough hills, but with a bit of fitness you will get there. And the views? They are to die for...
For practical info, see here.
The trail we are walking is part of the MacLehose trail: a 100-kilometer hiking trail north of Hong Kong that crosses a large part of the New Territories. We only cover 8 kilometers of it, but we think that's a good start. Our start is at the High Island Reservoir East Dam, a huge dam that was built in the 1970s and is helping to alleviate the water shortage in Hong Kong.
Cows on the path
Although the humidity is high, the temperature is still pleasant; about 24 degrees Celsius. In good spirits we find the stone path that soon turns into a long staircase going up. We are not the only hikers; it's the weekend and there are more outdoor enthusiasts wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. Under the bushes at the edge of the path, large horned cows lie watching it. They sleepily watch the stream of walkers.
Long Ke Wan Beach
From the dam we quickly found the trail path; the signs are not to be missed. Our first hiking destination is Long Ke Wan beach. We bridge quite a few altimeters and from the path we can already see the large white beach below us. The secluded bay is protected by beautiful cliffs. After 20 minutes of climbing, we walk down again via a staircase and are allowed to take off our hiking boots. We rest for a while on the sand. Sip water, feet in the rippling surf and enjoy the green hills that surround us. It is a perfect place for a picnic and a camper's paradise.
It doesn't take long before I feel the beads of sweat running down my back
Ready for the big climb that awaits us, we leave the beach. From Long Ke Wan we leave for Sai Wan beach. The path goes up again and the steps are steep. It doesn't take long before I feel the first drops of sweat beading down my back. There is little shade and when I look ahead, there seems to be no end to the long trail up.
MacLehose trail is well marked
You can't get lost here. Every 500 meters signs indicate that we are on the right track. The further we get, the quieter it gets. Yet there are still walkers that we pass or overtake. Now and then we stop for a while, if only because we don't want to miss the views.
A long climb
The hike is tough! We take a break at a wooden pavilion. A little water and a nut bar are not a superfluous luxury. But we have to go even further; the end of the climb is not yet in sight. Step by step we climb the stone steps. We're not going fast, but that's okay. The view is fantastic: the blue sea, the green islands and the brown volcanic rock formations are great to see. Can't believe this is so close to the metropolis of Hong Kong!
The highest point
After every staircase we think we have reached the highest point. But behind every bend a new uphill path awaits. It's hot, humid and we're short of wipes to wipe the salty sweat off our faces. But we persevere. After 1.5 hours we finally arrive at the highest point: at 314 meters there is a sign saying 'Sai Wan Shen'. We take the time to recover and to bring our moisture balance up to standard.
A little further on, a phenomenal view of the bay awaits us, so that we spontaneously forget the many stairs. And the good news: from here we can go downhill towards Sai Wan beach.
Path down to Sai Wan Beach
It is wonderful to walk down quietly. Still warm, but now it's fine. We encourage oncoming hikers who still have a little way up: “You're almost there!” To our right are several bays with beautiful white beaches. The closest beach is Sai Wan.
It is a bit disappointing when another climb appears in front of us. But oh well, we've had most of it, this one can also be added. The climb is not that long and we even have a little energy left when we reach the top.
Via a steep path down we arrive at the first houses of Sai Wan. There is still a table available in a restaurant with a view. We ask for a Tsingtao beer and let it taste good. Nice and cold and we deserved it. We also know what to do with the 'fried rice'!
Return with speedboat
In Sai Wan we arrange a speedboat to the fishing town of Sai Kung Town. The trip over the water is an added bonus: from the boat we have a perfect view of the columnar lava rocks that are so characteristic of this area.
Once in the taxi back to our hotel, we think about the trip. What a beautiful hike! Spicy, but definitely worth it. So for everyone who wants to leave the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong behind: do it!
How to get to the High Island Reservoir East Dam starting point?
From the metro MTR Diamond Hill Station, take Exit C2, then bus 92 to Sai Kung Town. Then take a taxi to East Dam. Or:
From Sha Tin New Town Plaza Bus Terminus take bus 299X to Sai Kung Town, then a taxi East Dam. Or:
From Hang Hau Station Exit B1, take a minibus 101M to Sai Kung Town, then a taxi to East Dam.
You can of course also book a taxi for the entire ride.
How to get back to Hong Kong Island from Sai Wan?
As you approach Sai Wan beach, you will find a kiosk just in front of the restaurant where you can buy tickets for the speed boat to Sai Kung Town (180 HK dollars / 20 euros pp).
From Sai Kung Town you can return with bus 92 to metro Diamond Hill Station or with bus 299X to Sha Tin. Of course you can also take a taxi from Sai Kung Town.
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