It may sound strange when Exploring Singapore but the amazing green spaces within this city deserve a mention as an alternative and free activity to undertake when you want a small escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. We opted to visit MacRitchie Reservoir Park and loved every minute of it!
MacRitchie Reservoir Park
Arriving by the ever efficient Singapore public transport (in this case, a bus), we were dropped off at the bus stop just outside the 12-hectare site that borders the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. We started walking around in an anti-clockwise direction, passing kayakers and exercise areas that make this a true facility for the community of this part of Singapore.
Keen to reach the HSBC TreeTop Walk, we soon found ourselves moving away from the water’s edge and into the forest terrain that borders the reservoir. Along our way north, we passed (and were passed) by a range of other users: walkers, runners, locals and tourists. We also quickly saw a range of wildlife that we had yet to encounter during our time in Singapore including a monkey, lizard and a range of birds who made a loud chorus untouched by traditional city noise. The route was at times tricky as it undulated up and down hills but was firm underfoot and well signposted with route markers and signposts at least every 0.5 km. Additionally, signs point you to the nearest toilets and ranger stations for whenever the need for a call of nature or a call for help respectively arises!
Top Tips: to reduce damage to the environment, maps are only provided on boards at regular, strategic locations around the routes for reference. Additionally there are a variety of routes colour-coded with lengths and difficulty to suit all possible users. Our route was described as ‘moderate-difficult’ and this was an accurate description for us both who are probably of about average fitness. Given that the weather is hot and relatively humid, whilst exercising it is imperative that you take adequate supplies of water (although there are water fountains at the ranger stations, you should have some on the go) and suitable energy snacks. A rehydration sachet or two and some glucose tablets may come in handy, just in case.
HSBC TreeTop Trail
Situated to the North of the reservoir, the HSBC (sponsored) TreeTop Trail is a 250 m long walkway suspended above the forest canopy. This allows you to literally ‘walk amongst the treetops’ and observe this key important part of any forest ecosystem. The trail itself requires you to follow an anti-clockwise one-way system to pass through a manned ranger station at the entrance to the bridge. You can then cross at a steady and slow rate. This provides excellent views around the forest area, extending your range of vision to see both the upper reaches of the reservoir and even to some of the buildings on the periphery of the park area that remind you that you are still in the centre of Singapore!
Entrance and exit to the walkway requires navigation of multiple staircases that are well-built but can, at times, be hard on the feet (good walking footwear advised!). It was on our climb away from the walkway that we encountered our first troop of monkeys of the day who clearly are used to human visitors and were quite content to sit on the walkway barriers and watch you pass – some of the more curious were even seen to reach out to examine passing bags for signs of food!
Top Tips: the trail closes at 5 pm which is earlier than the other parts of the park so keep an eye on the time. Also, don’t forget about the one-way system – it’s a long way up to reach a closed gate that you can’t open! Finally, be aware that the monkeys have been exposed to humans for a long time and are therefore used to our ways. For example, carrier bags are to be avoided as the monkeys have learnt that we use these to transport food and will relieve you of them when given an opportunity!
For anyone who has or does live in a city, you will appreciate the importance of access to large open spaces. Having lived in London, I always benefited from the great space of Hyde Park and only the plethora of buildings bordering it and the traffic noise disturbed the sense of being with nature. Here however, residents and visitors alike have an opportunity to literally ‘escape to the country’ and forget, even if just for a few hours, the dense hustle and bustle of this amazing city.
Top Tip: as a morning diversion, we didn’t have time to explore the area for more than four or five hours. If you’re interested in finding out more and visiting yourself, we recommend that you check out the National Parks website for details of routes, facilities and transport links.