Hiking the MacRitchie Trail, Singapore
To those visiting Singapore, you will inadvertently be impressed by the city skyline. The amazing skyscrapers dotting the Central Business District (CBD), the Singapore flyer (a giant ferris wheel), and even the well preserved old colonial architectures that you will find in little pockets strewn all across the country. In terms of development, I do dare say Singapore is second to none in Southeast Asia. But then you wonder, being surrounded by this concrete jungle, where can you go for a real jungle?
Enter the MacRitchie Reservoir Park. Its a beautiful nature reserve that surrounds a large reservoir right in the middle of the city. There are numerous trails that you could take, ranging from 3km to 11km. You could do what I did and follow the blue trail which is 10.3km. If you start from the Southern Point where the visitor center is located, you will begin your walk by wrapping around the reservoir for a little bit before venturing into the woods.
Now, I was worried that the ‘trail’ was going to be like a lot of other things in Singapore – man-made and ‘artificial’, but I was gladly mistaken. The walking trail is a nice cleared trail, but not paved (It starts as boardwalk close to the reservoir). So you get the best of both worlds where you can walk within a real nature reserve (you don’t even hear traffic!) but have a nice cleared path so you don’t end up trying to swat away insects and plants. Even though we were there in the dead afternoon (we started at about 2 p.m.) the tall trees and forest canopy provided a great cover over the trails. Resulting in a fun cool walk. You will also see a lot of runners blazing through these trails as well.
There are sufficient markers to help you along your way. I recommend choosing the blue trail which would lead you up to the HSBC TreeTop Trails. Located at the northern part of the park, there is a wonderful (free) suspension bridge above the forest canopy. Stare off in the distance and you can start making out the city again. Or look down over the top of the massive trees and remind yourself of the nature that still exists in this city. Since the bridge is only a single way, you should make sure to follow the correct path through to the entrance, otherwise be prepared to be turned back.
If bridges aren’t your thing but you’re still interested in seeing the view, head up to Jelutong Tower which is located about 1.5 km from the base of the TreeTop Trail. It does offer a pretty wonderful panoramic view of the reserve.
Try to conserve some energy when heading up all the way since the closest potential exit from the TreeTop Trail is to go to the Venus Loop car park (about another 2-3 km away).
Things to remember when checking out the trail
- Bring sufficient food and drinks. Between my bf and I, we finished 2 bottles of 100 plus, and 3 bottles of water. We also brought along some trail mix in case we got a little peckish…
- … but keep them well stashed in your backpack. Because there are MONKEYS! all around. And they have no qualms about attacking you for food. Trust me. A friend’s gf went carrying a steaming cup of coffee and was amused by a monkey who was standing in front of her. So amused, she didn’t notice all the other monkeys on the trees surrounding her. She freaked out and left the coffee cup, running away.
- Like I mentioned, conserve your energy and be mindful of the time you will take. It took us about 4 hours to finish the trail (we went to the Jelutong Towers as well). We didn’t realize before how far the carpack was and I was already getting weary. Luckily for us, it was still daylight so we had no issues getting down. If you’re planning a later evening trail bring along a flashlight with you, as the trails are not lit.
- There are no amenities apart from those at the Rangers station (near the TreeTop Trail) and the Visitors Centers (at the South). So if you have to use the bathroom, use it then.
We arrived by catching a cab straight to the visitors center, but you can grab busses as well. For those of you wanting to take the MRT, the closest one is the Marymount station, after which you can walk over to St. Theresa’s Home to start the trail (in the South East corner of the park).
Entrance to the park is free. So if you do have some time, and are tired with all the usual commercial hubbub of the city (like shopping, or pubbing, or theme park-ing), I strongly recommend checking out the reservoir park. Feel like you’re off on an adventure in the safety of the city.