MacRitchie Reservoir Park
MacRitchie Reservoir Park serves as a gateway to the nature reserves. It has become a popular spot for nature lovers and exercise enthusiasts. It is also a great place for morning and evening walks or strolls along the water's edge. MacRitchie Reservoir Park now boasts a green two-storey carpark with 300 parking lots. Its upper deck collects rainwater and channels them into a bioswale. Bioswales are landscape elements designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water. The reservoir also has an amenities centre equipped with toilets, showering facilities, lockers, drinking fountains and a food kiosk. Our reservoir deck is an ideal venue for warm-ups and for holding events like cross-country. Being a popular venue for water activities, it also has a newly improved pontoon for kayakers and our upgraded canoe shed will be ready by mid-2011. MacRitchie Reservoir is one of the four reservoirs that bound the nature reserves. Other reservoirs include Lower Peirce Reservoir, Upper Peirce Reservoir and Upper Seletar Reservoir. Serving as water catchment areas, forests surrounding these reservoirs are protected from agriculture activities in order to ensure the quality of water.
MacRitchie Reservoir provides relief from the pace of Singapore. Even just a visit to the park headquarters’ facilities in the delightful park off Lornie Road is pleasant. A gentle walk along board walks to the west or around the dam wall to the north is fine.
But the real adventure lies in the 11 km walk around the Reservoir. You have a choice of boardwalk or a path through the forest when you start in both directions: east or north. Both are attractive, though if you take the boardwalk you add a kilometer and a half to the total distance.
Once you leave the boardwalks, the paths that run parallel to Lornie or Upper Thomson Roads are cleverly designed so that, while you know that you are wandering through forest paths only meters from residential areas, you are relatively unaware that they are there! Birds, monkeys, squirrels, other wildlife - no matter how many times I go I see many and it is always a delight.
From the cool boardwalks round the southern and easier reaches of the lake through the several kilometers of shaded forest paths, a couple of hours relaxing amongst greenery helps maintain balance from the harassment of Orchard Road where the real wild life lives!
There is a useful halfway point where the rangers have their base and where there are toilets and drinking water. Every kilometer or so shelters provide relief from either your exhaustion or the rain. The boardwalks also have plenty of seats at short intervals to allow you to just sit and enjoy the lakes.
The famed tree top walk is hardly a must. It crosses a ravine about midway on the round trip. It is one way, and, in true Singapore style has a guard to make sure you don’t double back! You can catch glimpses of Lower and Upper Pierce reservoirs to the north, and look down with a feeling of superiority on to the treetops below. Then continue on down an incredible series of wooden steps. Here are at least a couple of hundred. I started to count them but lost count half way down as I was distracted by the birds and wild life. I mean it. Monkeys. Squirrels. Monitors. Snakes. Birds in abundance. All I know is that I a, glad the path is one way, and that is down!
You can take two hours to do the main circuit from main entrance, or go even further afield and walk up to Lower Pearce reservoir, west to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve or even take three hours to reach Chua Chiu Kang.
If you like walking, and you like water and you like forests and you like the feeling of being amongst nature, it is worth visiting.
There are a number of different trails to choose from depending on how long you wish to walk and the difficulty level of trail differs as well (this is indicated on the notice boards within the park). The shortest one is already quite tiring and takes around 2 hours in each direction. However, you will be treated to an amazing view of the reservoir water body if you walk along the boardwalk, or simply enjoy the sights and sounds of nature by walking through the trail within the forest.
You will be able to observe the long-tailed macaques on almost every occasion when you visit the reservoir as there are a substantial number of family groups living there. Once, my and friends and I saw them taking turns jumping into the pond at the entrance! It was indeed a fascinating sight to behold.
Remember to put lots of insect repellent and bring an umbrella for there are plenty of mosquitoes around and Singapore’s weather can be quite unpredictable as well. If there is rain, the points of shelter may be too far away from your location to reach quickly. Also don't forget to hydrate along the way!
I enjoy running at MacRitchie Reservoir- you can either run along the boardwalk, or head to the forest trails which provide a bigger challenge for runners. I find that the rocky terrain provides an extra edge to a regular run, and the slopes definitely help to build up your stamina. The park is also home to the Tree Top Walk, which are several hiking routes that take you through the trees and allow you to immerse yourself in nature. It’s also excellent for building up your leg muscles, as a round trip of the Tree Top Walk adds up to almost 10km. I like going for the Tree Top Walk after a particularly ridiculous bout of feasting, like after all the Christmas treats or dinner at my grandmother's. It lessens the guilt.
However, if you do go to MacRitchie, it’s best to travel light, bring a water bottle, and avoid carrying any food with you. If you do have to take food with you, make sure you’re not carrying it in your hand, as the monkeys can be vicious if they spot food they want, so avoid any primate encounters. They are generally calm creatures, so if you run into one, just walk past and avoid aggravating it- you should be fine.
Nonetheless, there was something about the atmosphere at MacRitchie that made running seem less laborious. The atmosphere was calm and serene, I didn't have a hard time making my way through the park. I'm the kind of person who needs a good surrounding to immerse myself in while running so MacRitchie is one of the places I would definitely recommend to those who feel the same way.
Although I don't frequent MacRitchie anymore because I don't live near that area, I hope that one day I'll be able to run there again.
If you actually get to the reservoir itself, they added a broadwalk in recent times which makes it easier to walk along the waters without getting your feet dirty. The best part these days? The treetop walk that was added in 2004 which hovers 25m above the forest floor and offers a spectacular view of the surroundings. Definitely a place to go to for a morning or afternoon walk.
In fact, you can venture all the way to place such as Dairy Farm or Bukit Timah Road. However, do be conscious of your own fitness and plan your water stops well. For those looking for a lighter activity, look no further than the Treetop Walk. It is a 5km distance from the Northern Route, the side with canoeing activity. Boardwalks also allow visitors to get closer to nature and do not be alarmed by monkeys and reptiles.
The exterior of MacRitchie has improved greatly over the years and is cleaner and more presentable. The facilities are excellent after the upgrade and the multi-storey car park keeps everyone on weekends. It is the perfect place to escape from our concrete jungle.
The toilets there are pretty decent - not that smelly, there's toilet paper, the flush is working. You can take a shower there as well.
There is a alfresco cafe there which serves snacks, beverages and meals. Great for an after-workout meal!
Be prepared to trek for at least 2 hours. People like me who are not so used to trekking might want to dress comfortably and bring along friends who are more fit. They can help you along the way. For more adventurous trekkers, there are actually more challenging routes.
I advise trekkers to bring lots of water and maybe pack some food so that you can eat a little on the way or when you come back down. You need the energy. Furthermore, you can take your time when you reach the top at the treetop walk and have a break at a nearby tower. Beware of monkeys though! They might want to steal a bite from you.
There are many trails available for us to choose from and being adventurous, my friends and I chose the longest route. We had bought Macdonalds takeaways for our lunch and we were munching on our burgers happily, ignorant of our surroundings. Just as we were approaching the entrance of the route, we were suddenly greeted with a huge bunch of excited monkeys (I think they are long-tail macaques), coming straight at us! That moment was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We girls quickly keep our food into our bags. At the same time, the boys started running and trying their best to force the burger into their mouth with the monkeys chasing them! What a sight! Fortunately, the monkeys stopped their chase once the food were out of their sight.
As we started our hike with such an amazing entrance, the remaining journey was quite uneventful. There are different flowers and trees we saw, but the best part was getting close to the greenery and enjoying the fresh air (apart from one inconsiderate man smoking at one point). The journey through the thick greens was very relaxing and a great opportunity for friends to chat while doing a small workout!
We still get lots of mosquito bites despite spamming whole bottle of insect repellent as we hike. So do remember to get a good brand of repellent. As the air can get a little humid at some point, do wear thinly and drink lots of water.
But I think all the perspiration is still worth it.
However, since there are so many trees there, you might end to get mosquito bites so do spray some insect repellent before going there. I think it is better to go during daytime instead of nighttime since it might get a little dangerous.
There's a new cafe now which sells good food, a spacious bathing and changing area. A kayak rental place has also sprouted up, proving popular with youths. I love the way the trails wind deep into the heart of Macritchie and are easily accessible to exits and roads. Cyclists, joggers and trekkers regularly go by as well as couples looking to get away from the hustle and noise of the city.
I love visiting Macritchie Reservoir, though I wouldn't recommend staying there alone after dark. The eeriness tends to creep up on you.
Many people prefer to walk along the paved walkways at the Reservoir. However, if you are bringing a partner, I suggest you take a walk along the muddy trails within the small 'forests' (don't worry, students use those trails for Cross Country runs). If you're a cyclist, may I also suggest that you take a ride through these trails, which are extremely exciting. Make sure you have a partner with you though!
Although not as reputable as East Coast Park, MacRitchie Reservoir is still the best park for adventure-seekers!