Nature Reserves and Reservoirs
Singapore is very truly a green city. With nearly 50% of the island enwrapped in unspoiled natural beauty, it is truly worthy of its name, The Garden City. Enormous and dedicated efforts go into maintaining the island’s beauty, and the results of this tireless work can be seen everywhere you look: in the tree-lined highways, the many parks and park connectors, the lush jungle trails, the water-side promenades along the city’s reservoirs, in the numerous and wide-ranging activities and events, encouraging visitors and locals alike to discover and participate.
Right at Singapore’s heart lies one of its most important green areas - the city’s four main reservoirs, essential water supplies for the entire island. The names of these precious storage basins, all nestled in close proximity and surrounded by verdant parklands, are MacRitchie Reservoir, Lower Peirce Reservoir, Upper Peirce Reservoir and Upper Seletar Reservoir. Aside from their functional aspects, the reservoirs and the lands surrounding them are home to a richly diverse array of flora and fauna. Against the backdrop of Singapore’s rapidly developing urban landscape, the area provides a welcome reminder to how far the city has come. Lush greenery juxtaposed with the concrete-and-steel skyline provides a striking contrast – and often a welcome relief to the many who come here to relax and refresh.
Possibly the most famous of Singapore’s parks is the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Though officially designated an ASEAN heritage park in 2011, the reserve was established more than a century ago, in 1883. It spans more than 163 hectares of unspoiled forest, and features the island’s tallest hill: Bukit Timah, elevation 163.3 metres. A favourite among local hikers, it offers several different trails, each one a natural delight. The park is treasured by nature lovers and photographers, who come seeking its rich biodiversity. In fact, more than 40% of all the island nation’s flora and fauna can be found within its boundaries.
Hindhede Nature Park was once an abandoned quarry, located within the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Restored and opened to the public, it now looks much as it did in the days before Sir Stamford Raffles set foot on the island. The trails here are less challenging than those in the main Reserve, and the entire area offers a tranquil respite from the city’s hectic pace. In fact, many visit here to meditate, practice yoga, and unwind.
MacRitchie Reservoir has an even longer history, its construction dating back to 1867. Named after its designer, engineer James MacRitchie, it actually supplied water to the region long before the days of British settlement – literally for centuries. Today, MacRitchie Reservoir is a popular spot for joggers and hikers, and many schools and organizations hold annual cross-country races here. Kayaking and canoeing facilities are also available.
For water sports though, Lower Seletar Reservoir is probably an even better choice. Favoured for its larger open expanses of placid water, Lower Seletar Reservoir hosts frequent local dragon boat races and kayaking competitions. At one end of the reservoir, a fishing jetty offers anglers a chance to try their luck with native freshwater species. The newly built Family Bay has also a waterplay area for children. If your schedule allows, do stay to see the sunset – it’s quite a spectacle here, very relaxing and quite romantic indeed.
In any of Singapore’s parks and reserves, you’re quite likely to encounter monkeys. They’re often seen in family groups of 30 or more, from big adult males to tiny, adorable infants. However cute the monkeys may seem, though, we strongly advise you to respect the signs posted throughout the area, warning not to feed or provoke them. The warnings come with good reason, as monkeys can be rather violent on occasion. Take particular care if you are carrying food of any sort. Do not carry it openly, and do not allow your children to carry anything that might be mistaken for food. Finally, it’s a good idea to carry a stick when you embark on your jungle adventure, just to be on the safe side.
In addition to those described above, there are quite a few more nature reserves and parks in and around Singapore, such as:
• HortPark - The Gardening Hub
• Kent Ridge Park
• Mount Faber Park
• Telok Blangah Hill Park
• The Southern Ridges
• Bedok Reservoir Park
• Bishan Park
• Kallang Riverside Park
• Sengkang Riverside Park
• Kranji Reservoir Park
• Admiralty Park
• Bukit Batok Nature Park
• Dairy Farm Nature Park
• Woodlands Waterfront
To learn more about the area’s parklands, pay a visit to the National Parks Website.
Images all taken by our local experts