Back to Nature at MacRitchie Reservoir
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MacRitchie Reservoir is a place of memories for many Singaporeans. Most schools would have made use of its bountiful walking trails through verdant greenery to conduct cross-country runs. It is also a popular spot for walking, jogging, fishing, bird watching, kayaking and just hanging out and having a meal. Find out why you should take a trip down to MacRitchie, and see what attractions it holds that nature lovers shouldn’t miss.
Image from Wikimedia
MacRitchie Reservoir is one of four reservoirs that make up the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. This is the largest nature reserve in Singapore, spanning over 2000 hectares of forest cover and houses an amazing array of animal and plant species. The Central Catchment Nature Reserve and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve used to form a contiguous forest, but this forest was split into two with the building of the Bukit Timah Expressway. Now, an Eco-Link has been built to reconnect the two and allow safe passage for animals once again.
Back to MacRitchie Reservoir. Named after James MacRitchie, the Municipal Engineer that oversaw its development, the reservoir is still an important source of freshwater for Singapore today. The parkland around the reservoir has been carefully developed to preserve the wildlife while making it usable as recreational land.
Walking Trails and TreeTop Walk
Walking trails have been carefully placed around the reservoir and through the surrounding forests. There are boardwalks to ensure the human foot traffic does minimal to no damage to the nature reserve. There are trails of varying lengths and suited to all fitness levels, so you can take your pick of strolling by the water’s edge or hiking through the forests. There is even a submerged walkway, if you’d like to get your feet wet.
The gem of the MacRitchie trails, however, has to be the TreeTop Walk. A 250-metre long suspension bridge hanging 25 metres above the forest floor gives a unique view of the forest canopy. It’s a little more challenging to reach, and will take about two to three hours to complete the trail, so put on long cotton pants, comfortable walking shoes and bring enough water before embarking on this trail. Many have reported getting lost and being unable to find the TreeTop Walk, so be sure to familarise yourself with the map before heading in!
NParks, Singapore’s national park board, has helpfully provided the public with maps for DIY walking trails, including the TreeTop Walk! Find them on the NParks website here.
Macaques, Birds and Other Wildlife
Being a nature reserve, there is a plethora of wildlife living in the MacRitchie area. The most visible and copious animal is the long-tailed macaque. These monkeys live in a complex world, with kin networks, power struggles, friends and foes. Register for a free walk with NParks here to find out more about them. If you wish to explore the area and view the macaques yourself, take some basic safety precautions. Do not feed the macaques! Also keep food, plastics bags and water bottles out of sight. They are wild animals, after all, and can be very bold and may injure you as they grab food from you. Please also refrain from using flash photography as it agitates them.
Apart from the macaques, there are many other wildlife for nature lovers to spot. Birds such as the Blue-rumped Parrot and Orange-bellied Flowerpecker are only found in MacRitchie. If you are very lucky, you may also catch a glimpse of the shy lesser mousedeer.
Of course the big body of water isn’t just sitting there, doing nothing but providing life-saving water to Singaporeans. No, everything has to do double duty in land-scarce Singapore. So before the water in the reservoir goes to the water treatment plant, you can go kayaking on the reservoir waters. Head to the Singapore Canoe Federation kiosk to rent kayaks by the hour. Children as young as four can go on the kayaks, as long as they are accompanied by adults.
There is also a designated fishing ground for avid anglers. In keeping with its status as a nature reserve, the catch-and-release practice is encouraged to maintain fish stocks. Also, only artificial bait is allowed.
Relax and Dine
There are a couple of dining options now open at MacRitchie. There’s Vava Bistro @ MacRitchie, which serves a mix of Western and Japanese cuisines. You can find duck confit, lamb, roast chicken, kebabs, burgers, pasta, sushi, sashimi and more on the menu. They also have separate brunch and tea time menus.
The other option is the Mushroom Café, which serves a variety of local and fusion food. Have a hankering for nasi lemak after a trek through the forest? This is the place to hit up.