Header images courtesy of Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (via Facebook)
In its entirety, the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Gardens (嘉道理農場暨植物園) encompasses almost 150 hectares of land. Not just an agricultural zone, the area is also home to a conservatory, wildlife rescue, gardens of local and imported flora, as well as the hill of Kwun Yum Shan (觀音山).
Although there is a working shuttle service, the beautiful, flowing streams, lush greens, and ridged valleys are best appreciated on foot. For an itinerary that showcases the different sorts of wonders this nature park holds, go on one of these walking trails at Kadoorie Farm!
Providing stunning views of the Great Falls, brushes with forestry, as well as various animal encounters, the Woodland Trail is a short loop around the middle to lower portion of the foothills. Anchoring the Art House as a starting point, head left towards the Monkey Haven, where you can make a pit stop to observe several cheeky primates. Continue upwards, taking the path up the right when passing by the Bat Tower.
Traverse the shaded pathway of the Jackfruit Jaunt, which thins into a coiling lane that takes you towards the Great Falls. This area is surrounded by densely packed trees and shrubbery. From the point overlooking the rushing waters, make your way downstream, sticking to the main road straight ahead to return to the Art House.
If you would like to add a majestic, feathered creature to your list of sightings for the day, take a right at the fork in the road to have a gander at the Jim Ades Raptor Sanctuary. Make your way down the road in the same direction you arrived in, then go downhill once you see the Bat Tower again, tracing back the first way you came.
Its name an attempt to evoke the wonders of Peter Pan’s Neverland, this is a mini-adventure filled with incredible sights. Its starting point is the Gloria Baretto Orchid Sanctuary, which can be reached by way of the main road next to the stream, or via the shuttle bus. Here, the terrain can get a bit more rugged—its higher points have considerably fewer reinforcements to better integrate visitors into the unadulterated natural surroundings.
Snaking upwards through the forest, the trail allows visitors a chance to shrug off city life. Upon reaching the fork, simply stick to the main path upwards, and you will be taken around a loop that goes back downhill. Ahead, there lies the Signpost Corner. From its descending stone steps, you can access either the fruit tree-lined Orchard Trail or the Honey Trail, which was once an apiary, to make your way back to the starting point.
A route that takes you to the highest points of Kadoorie Farm—clocking in at an altitude of around 625 metres above sea level—the views from this upper section walk around the mountain crest are unparalleled. After admiring the picturesque landscapes from under the shaded Kadoorie Brothers Memorial Pavilion, set off towards the Sky Trail, which highlights the organisation’s restorative efforts in propagating and preserving local tree species. In fact, the topmost arc rounds past the official Tree Planting Site, where the re-growing plots are visible!
As you loop back down, you can catch your breath at the T.S Woo Memorial Pavillion, which bears a more traditional appearance compared to the Kadoorie brothers’ pavilion. After the pit stop, the trail will bring you to the summit of Kwun Yum Shan, marked by the modest statue of the goddess of compassion herself.
In the colder months, keep an eye out for the Hot Pots around the statue base, as they will release geothermic steam that fills the air with warm mist. From there, you may finish the loop by heading back to the beginning, or make your way to the foothills on the shuttle bus or via the main path downwards that lines the stream.
Evoking an age-old journey taken by villagers native to the area, this toilsome walk encircles the streamside routes that were taken to reach the top of Kwun Yum Shan, once a destination for worshippers of the goddess seeking blessings. From the Plaza, start by treading past the Cascade Garden and up the way of the Butterfly Path, which shrouds you under beautiful, descending aerial growths.
Continue upwards through the Fern Walk to reach the checkpoint of the Golden Pavilion, which provides a panoramic view of the lush forests and valleys underneath. Advance uphill, beating against the steady incline, to reach the 400-metre mark above sea level. Traverse through the Orchid Haven, soaking in the grace of the species in all of its various forms. From there, the summit of Kwun Yum Shan—replete with the mint-coloured statue once used for worship, as well as geothermal fissures in the ground—is just down the road.
Following a whorl around the statue area, make your way through the snaking Enkianthus Walk to admire the trees, which are known to bloom in auspicious pinks during Chinese New Year. The walk back down is paved, leading you around to check out the historic Four Post Office Pillars while making course back to the Plaza.
For those who feel drawn towards horticulture, this is itinerary is sure to catch your attention. It is designed to showcase the diverse flora varieties amongst all of the plots scattered around the farm, from edible greens to ornate decorative flowers. If you have a green thumb, a short circle around the Eco-garden and One-dou Farm on the left-hand side of the Plaza will impart tips and tricks on how to garden sustainably. You may even check out Kadoorie Farm’s full-length course on eco-friendly agricultural practices.
Afterwards, go arboretum-hopping between the adjacent Plants and Us Greenhouse, Orchid Greenhouse, and the Cactus Greenhouse. From there, venture out along the pedestrian-only road, and take a turn upwards when reaching the picnic area by the Art House, making your way to the Walter Kerr Gardens.
Follow the upwards direction of the stream along the Butterfly Path under a canopy of swaying liana plants, bringing you through the tangle of ferns on the Fern Walk, to the Orchid Haven where you will emerge. A little further up the hill from the Dragon Pavilion, there is a small spot overlooking the waterfalls that doubles as a great picnicking site. To make your way back, simply retrace your steps down the Fern Walk to get to the Jackfruit Jaunt before winding your way through the Woodland Trail and looping to the main road.
For a trail that focuses on encounters with wildlife under conservatory protection—whilst providing great fun for families—this is it. As a starting point that represents the rescue efforts of the Kadoorie Farm team, the Piers Jacobs Wildlife Sanctuary provides a realistic enclosure setting for the rehabilitation of a handful of species—the barking deer is particularly popular amongst visitors. Go upstream and cross over to the Raptor Roost to take a look at the majestic birds of prey, before moving to the Native Mammal Display.
Continue in the same direction and see the many animals at the Amphibian and Reptile House and the Streamlife Display, which you can scope out in their natural habitat under the currents of the stream trickling down the mountain itself. Cross over at the next bridge and make your way to the Parrot Sanctuary directly opposite the Walter Kerr Gardens, before hitting the Insect House.
Here is where the Wildlife Tour requires more effort, as the next stop—the Jim Ades Raptor Sanctuary—is uphill from the path. It will not be long before you loop back through the Woodland Trail to get to the Monkey Sanctuary near the bottom of the foothills. Be sure to catch a glimpse of the tiny ecosystem in the Wildlife Pond when working your way back down to the Plaza.