Shoushan Mountain in Kaohsiung is better known by some as “Monkey Mountain”. Reason? It is the natural habitat of monkeys, absolute tons of them. In the 17th Century when the Dutch first discovered this peak, they called it “Ape Hill”, pertaining to the monkeys. Not to be confused with Shoushan Mountain in Liaoning in mainland China, Shoushan in Kaohsiung, Taiwan is a well known tourist destination. You should visit this popular peak when in Taiwan, for several reasons other than for its resident primates.
First, visit Monkey Mountain to see a diversity of wildlife. Kaohsiung residents and visitors are given a rare chance to see diverse life forms in a natural habitat that is only an hour away by car from the main city. The mountain has a network of boardwalk trails that goes around it and the star attraction, of course, is the monkeys. Thousands of Formosa rock macaques freely roam around; the mountain is a reserve dedicated to preserve and protect the macaques. They might pester you as you hike, but keep in mind that you are treading on their territory.
On the slope of Monkey Mountain is the Shou Shan Zoo, which showcases a wide array of animal and plant species: specifically, 60 mammalian species, 90 reptilian species, 30 amphibian species, 500 bird species, 150 freshwater fish species and 17,600 insect species. Some of the animals that are getting much attention are the Formosan Reeve’s muntjac, Formosan serow, Formosan sambar, Formosan black bear, Chinese otter, leopards, wildcats, snakes, panthers, bears, and more monkeys, including Formosan rock monkeys.
There are also a number of interesting birds such as the Taiwan blue magpie, Japanese lesser sparrow hawk, streak-breasted scimitar babbler, bamboo partridge, bronzed drongo, maroon oriole, yellow-throated minivet, black bulbul, Muller’s barbet, crested goshawk, black-naped blue monarch, and hose swift.
Second, come to Monkey Mountain to see several natural attractions such the limestone caves that are filled with eerie and alluring rock formations, crystals, stalagmites, stones, and stone pillars. Spelunkers from all over the world have a grand time visiting this place. There are also ancient man-made structures such as temples and shrines near the zoo. There are a number of these along the slopes but hidden in dense forests. Meanwhile, a number of tourists visit the mountain also for the other attractions nearby such as the Fengshan Old City, Bang Ping Mountain, Fo Guang Shan Monastery, and the majestic Holy Rosary Cathedral.
Kaohsiung is the second most important city in Taiwan. It is located in the southwestern part of the country and is popular around the world for its world-class seaport. Known as Taiwan’s Harbor Capital, Kaohsiung is home to 2.7 million Taiwanese, which makes its population denser than Taipei. Monkey Mountain is its main peak, but some people may not recognize it since it goes by many other names besides Shoushan Mountain and Ape Hill, such as Chaishan Mountain, Chai Mountain, and Snake Hill (which is actually just a part of the mountain). Older maps referred to its peak as Saracen’s Head.
Finally, a trail up Monkey Mountain is a must if you are a hiker, traveling mountaineer, or nature lover, or simply an adventure-loving tourist. Just in case you get tired from your zoo visit or while hiking, there are various tea stations scattered along the trail. Reaching the peak rewards you with an amazing view of the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea through the trees.