Photo of a large tree in Singapore

Over The River and Through the Woods…to Bukit Timah We Go!

Today’s hike was the long anticipated MacRitchie Reservoir to Bukit Timah. For days, the rains have been holding us back from accessing this area—while the MacRitchie area is beautifully paved and curated, the Bukit Timah Catchment Trail was a little less so. The MacRitchie Reservoir is Singapore’s oldest reservoir, and its appearance is a beautiful lake-like freshwater body with turtles and fish and soft shorelines that occasionally had grasses and other marshy edges. We saw kayakers paddling through the reservoir and the sun even came out for us as we made our way around the outskirts.

Since the Bukit Timah trail was still muddy and slippery, our fearless leader Tom made this an optional adventure, and those of us with firmer footwear and less concern toward muddying ourselves trekked deeper into the jungle after reaching the end of the MacRitchie segment.

For a side-by-side comparison, here’s the path at MacRitchie (below left) and the Catchment Trail (below right). We were all agog at the bright orange hues of the clay mud that made up part of the path.

Bukit Timah is the highest point in Singapore, summitting at 163.63 m, and the road leading up to its peak was constructed in 1843. It was once occupied by farmers, and like most of Singapore, its trees were cleared for the timber and farming industries. Now, it is a nature reserve with many large historical trees and such thick plant cover that despite being so high up, there was no skyline or horizon view to speak of– just dense forest. We climbed more stairs than I knew I was capable of climbing in one day, and (huffing and puffing), we triumphantly reached the tippity top of Singapore.

Among my personal favorite sightings along the way were the towering trees with reaching vines that extended from unseeable heights to the forest floor (below). There were also massive ferns, rattan palms, and many types of bracket mushrooms. I had the honor of witnessing a skink hunt down a spider and consume its prey, as well as a large golden spider sitting in its web far overhead. I am bad at remembering to take photos, and therefore you’ll have to take my word for all of this.

Photo of a large tree in Singapore

Of course, no trip to a Singapore nature reserve would be complete without macaque monkeys. As we walked past through the Rifle Range Nature Park and headed toward the impending climb to Bukit Timah, we were once again ushered by monkeys, although perhaps these were less feisty than many of the ones we met on our previous journeys. They sat on the low fencing that divided the sidewalk from the Nature Reserve and watched curiously as we passed by. Signs all throughout the park remind visitors not to feed or entice the macaques in any way, as they can be quite enthusiastic about plastic bags or anything that resembles food.

Speaking of food, after Bukit Timah, we were thrilled to book-it (ha-ha) to the bottom of the hill for a veritable feast. We slurped down milkshakes from 48 ounce goblets and made easy work of piles of rice, naan, and various curries and noodle dishes. Stuffed and exhausted from hiking ten miles before noon, we all made our way back home to begin packing for tomorrow’s next big adventure…Malaysia!