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Park Life: MacRitchie Reservoir

Macritchie ReservoirMention ‘Singapore’ and images of skysrapers, shopping and bright lights of the big city come to mind. While this tiny island is known for its cityscapes, there are pockets of green spaces that could surprise even the avid traveller.

Located in the centre of Singapore is the country’s wild heart – MacRitchie Reservoir. The reservoir itself was constructed in 1867 to feed the demands of the growing population at the time, and the surrounding land has since grown to become one of the largest nature reserves on the island.

Many locals will probably associate the reserve with its leisure facilities – the park is, after all, a place where you can have picnics by the lake or simply stroll around the lake’s perimeter on wooden boardwalks to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet. Two restaurants have been established recently – one a simple cafeteria and the other a more posh restaurant – to cater to the park’s visitors.

On the right side of the entrance is a place where you can rent canoes and paddle your way on the reservoir and enjoy the greenery (minus the skyscrapers) from the water.

Since the park is relatively large, it is navigable via its network of nature trails which are colour-coded.

The best ones are around 10km long, and cut through some pretty lush tropical greenery where you can easily spot playful macaques amongst the trees, or even spot kingfishers as they hunt by the lakeside. Our favourite is the yellow, which circumnavigates the lake along trails of varying grades and terrains ranging from stony paths to wooden boardwalks.

Yellow Trail
Beginning with a jungle canopied walk, the trail allows you to meander along the Prunus Trail for a detour from the forest path. After about 5kms, you emerge from the forest cover onto a road (and the adjoining golf and country club) before weaving back into the jungle where you can have a toilet break. Here, the trail forks – if you want to tackle the famed Treetop Walk, you can turn right up the hill. The Treetop Walk is a free-standing 250m-long steel bridge that spans the 2 tallest hills of the park (25m high), where you can have views of the jungle below. As it’s a one-way street, the only exit is via a series of wooden stairs that bring you down to the trail you came from.

If you bypassed the Treetop Walk, the trail continues past a 3-storey steel watchtower where you can climb up to enjoy a quiet view of the surrounds. Eventually, it’ll lead to a boardwalk over the park’s other terrain: marshland.

From here, the trail actually borders the adjacent golf course and the walk takes you along the banks of the reservoir. Peek into the water and you may find terrapins or tiny fishes. The view is pretty expansive here, and you may be able to spot a towering condominium or two in the distance (this is Singapore, after all).

From here, the trail heads back into the jungle canopy, and the terrain here can be especially muddy after the rains. Tree roots weave their way through the undulating trail which can be slippery when wet.

Another option awaits you a little further down the trail – choose between more jungle-canopied trail or lakeside boardwalks, both of which take you to the same end destination. The boardwalks are a great way to see pond and lake life, and there are interpretive signboards along the way to help you identify some of the creatures you’ll see along the way (we’ve seen plenty of skinks and even a green whip snake). Benches along the way let you sit and admire the beauty of this calm lake.

The end destination is a picnic area where plenty of resident macaques – who aren’t shy of humans – tend to congregate (feeding is prohibited). If you’re here in the late afternoon, you’ll be joined by plenty of trail runners and joggers along the trail.

After the 3-4 hour long walk, you can refresh with a fresh coconut at the Mushroom Cafe or take a shower at the revamped facilities.

One Response to “Park Life: MacRitchie Reservoir”

  1. Chris says:

    Cool thinking all around!

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