|Height|| ||172 metres (564 feet)|
|Vertical Elevation|| ||<10 metres|
|Location|| ||Coloane Island|
|Nearest town|| ||Macau|
|Start/Finish|| ||Estrada do Alto de Coloane|
|Climbing time|| ||<5 minutes|
210m (1.9km) one-way
|Grade|| ||1/5 Climb|
|See also|| ||NA|
|Date climbed|| ||10th June 2013|
At only 172 metres high and marked on every single map of Macau, you'd think finding the highest point in Macau would be dead easy. Unfortunately, the actual placement of Alto de Coloane seems to vary from map to map, and I also missed summitting this peak. I suppose climbing mountains isn't a high priority for most of those who visit Macau, more famous for the number of Casinos and Resorts springing up over this tiny area.
However, at the very southern tip of Coloane Island (one of two islands making up Macau) Alto de Coloane provides great 360 degree views over Macau, as well as easy access to a fantastic temple and monument nearby. Even better, no matter where you are in Macau, reaching the summit of Alto de Coloane is not only easy, but also quick.
Macau enjoys warm summers and mild winters. You can climb Alto de Coloane anytimeof the year. Temperature will rarely be an issue. More likely to cause problems is the rain, with wet summers and high humidity. In reality, given you are doing little more than driving, getting out of you car (and depending on how adventurous you are) climbing some stairs, you can go anytime. Over summer, average temperatures range from 20-26C (70-78F) and during winter 10-14C (50-55F). It doesn't rain too often and when it does, there isn't much.
Getting to Alto de Coloane is really easy. We came directly from the Ferry Terminal and not wanting to lose time caught a taxi from right outside the terminal all the way to summit (or as close as we could get by car). The taxi took less than 30 minutes and cost $100 Macau dollars. Macau accepts Hong Kong dollars also (at about the same exchange rate). We found the level of English in Macau very low (outside the tourist areas), so asking to be taken to Alto de Coloane is likely to be met with blank stares. Instead we pointed to a map and pointed out the temple/monument which are very nearby. We had to point out these spots in Chinese characters (similarly few people read English).
However, had we more time, we would have caught a bus to the base of the mountain. There are a number of buses which run very close to the park entrance (15, 21A, 25, 26A, 50 and N3). Unfortunately none of these buses depart from the Ferry Terminal, so you'd need to find where the start point is. We ended up getting a bus back, which was super cheap (a few dollars).
The bus will drop you off at the base of the mountain/park entrance, while the taxi will take you up the mountain (1.69km). There are a number of walking trails up and around the mountain for those who want to walk up the mountain (other than on the road) or want to explore the rest of the park.
There are no fees associated with entering the park or climbing the mountain.
More famous for its Casinos and shopping, Macau is surprisingly interesting for those who want something more than gambling and Cartier. A Portuguese colony for almost 450 years (until 1999), the two small islands of Macau still retain many areas which feel like a hot, humid European street. It's definitely worth visiting some of the tourist sites of Macau, rather than just the flashy casino's which now dot the two islands. Macau is made up of two islands: Macau and Coloane. Macau is the more built up, although Coloane has a frenzy of building activity and will no doubt contain all the nicest and newest resorts and Casinos in a few years.
However, if it's Casinos you want, then there are no shortage of Casino's to pick from. With the number of tourists and dollars coming into the region, the infrastructure is excellent. And so it was during a recent holiday to Hong Kong that I decided I'd zip over to Macau for a day. There is an international airport on Coloane, although it looked like most of the flights arriving were smaller regional carriers. Our trip from Hong Kong was effortless. There are a number of ferry services which travel between Macau and Hong Kong. We travelled with TurboJet (www.turbojet.com.hk) which has services every 30 minutes from about 7am until about 10pm. While you can pre-book, we just turned up and had no problems getting a ticket (although we had to take the more expensive SuperClass - $300 Macau dollars vs $160 for Economy Class). The ferry ride took just under an hour, with big comfy seats and a meal provided.
When departing Hong Kong and arriving into Macau you do need to go through customs, so you should check your country requirements for entering the region. With my Australian passport, it was supereasy and we were through customs in about 10 minutes. At the ferry terminal there is a money changer and ATM. Macau has it's own currency, however almost everyone accepts Hong Kong dollars (whereas the reverse is not true). We withdrew about $300 Macau dollars which was plenty for our trip and site seeing.
As described above, there is a great network of buses across the two islands, with clear bus stops and supercheap. However, none of the buses to our peak left from the ferry terminal, and we instead jumped into a cab right outside the terminal. Similar to Hong Kong, the level of English in Macau is low, especially bus/taxi drivers etc. Therefore, I used a Macau map (picked up in Hong Kong) to point to the Temple/Monument which is right next to Alto de Coloane. The taxi driver worked out where to go and we were off. The peak is on the southern (Coloane) island and the taxi took us across an incredibly long bridge which connects the two islands. We then drove through a mass of construction (more Casino's I'm sure) before taking a turn-off up the peak. The entire trip is less than 30 minutes (depending on traffic) to the summit.
Alto de Coloane is not actually well marked and is also not on the main road, so it was a little tricky to find. The taxi dropped us off at the Macau Tin Hau Temple. This is definitely worth visiting and is a really beautiful temple. We were the only people there and wandered through the main courtyard taking photos. A few minutes further up the road is the statue of the Goddess A-Ma. Also worth visiting, the statue is exactly 19.99 metres high (the same year Macau was handed back to China). The view from here is pretty good.
After taking a few touristy photos, we decided to walk back down the mountain with the intention of making the sidetrip to the highest point on Macau on the way. Unfortunately I missed the turn-off, as it's not marked and it was not until I was a fair way down the mountain that I realised I'd gone too far and had to back-track.
So here is how to find the high point.
Heading up the road you will pass a small park on the right (with a toilet). You will then reach what feels like a high-point before heading back down the hill toward the temple. At this high-point, there is another car park (I think it's an overspill carpark). Here there is a road which goes back on itself to the right. This is the road toAlto de Coloane. The road is only a few hundred metres long. There is a guard gate here and just past a big white military/satellite looking thing. You can actually see the satellite from the road. Essentially if at any point you are heading back down hill, you have gone too far.
As I wasn't quite sure where I was, I walked up to the guard in the guard gate and asked him for the highest point in Macau. He spoke good English, and with a smile pointed me onward.
The actual highpoint is marked with a concrete marker. There are great views from here back toward Macau. I've read some speculation as to potential other high points (a nearby peak and the Goddess Statue). I can however assure you that this is the highpoint as it's clear that this point is higher than both other points. So a few more photos later, I was done. I'd added another country high-point to my slowly growing list.
It was now raining and with my partner Tiana (who had waited further down the road, where I turned back) we walked back to the base of the mountain. It took about 25 minutes to walk back down the base, where there is a bus stop. We jumped on the bus and headed back into Macau.
Before heading back to Hong Kong or from whereever you came, it's certainly worth visiting the older Portuguese part of Macau. We were back on a ferry by about 4pm, headed back to Hong Kong.
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