Mai Po used to be an important Gei Wai (literally meaning a pond enclosed by an earthen dyke) shrimp cultivation base. Today, it is still home to 24 Gei Wai ponds, which are the only existing ponds of their kind in southern China. Mai Po was first recognized as a protected area in 1979, when it was designated by the Hong Kong government as a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’. The Mai Po Nature Reserve has been managed by the World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong (WWF-HK) since 1984. In 1995, wetlands around Mai Po and Inner Deep Bay were formally designated a ‘Wetland of International Importance’ under the Ramsar Convention. Mai Po Marshes, part of the Mai Po Nature Reserve, has since been protected as the largest expanse of wetland in Hong Kong. The reserve consists of the wetlands across Tai Long Kei, Shek Shan and Tsim Bei Tsui. It is located at the mouths of Sham Chun River (or Shenzhen River), Shan Pui River and Tin Shui Wai Nullah. The reserve boasts a high degree of biodiversity in terms of flora and fauna. Main habitats in Mai Po Nature Reserve include fishponds, Gei Wais, inter-tidal mudflats, mangroves, reed beds and freshwater ponds.
More than 60,000 water birds spend winter here every year. In spring and autumn, up to 30,000 birds seek refuge in the mudflats of Mai Po Marshes, which serve as a stopover for their long-distance migration journey. Besides, many wildlife species choose the wetlands as a permanent habitat, including over 400 species of insects, 300 species of birds, 18 mamma species, 21 reptile species, 90 species of marine vertebrates and 50 species of butterflies. The intertidal mangroves at Mai Po Marshes thrive along the local coast, providing plentiful foliage for aquatic animals in the wetlands to live on. The Mai Po Nature Reserve is the largest mangrove wetland reserve in Guangdong and the six largest of its kind in China.
Suggested Route: The Mai Po Nature Reserve is an ‘area in which entry or presence is restricted’. To enter it, all visitors must participate in a local guided eco tour.
Tour Time: It depends on your itinerary. Please ask your guide for details.
Best Season to Go: Spring & autumn