We visited MacRitchie Reservoir today and can heartily recommend it as a place to visit for a gentle walk. It is mid-week, so there were very few people there, and it was very peaceful.
After being dropped off at the carpark, we were pleasantly suprised to find a simple but stratigically placed cafe raised on a little hill with a beautiful view over the reservoir. From here, the park looks like an English garden, with manicured lawns, graceful trees, pruned hedges and colourful boganvillia.
After a cool drink we headed across the wooden bridge to the left. We hadn't gone ten metres before we spotted a huge water monitor lizard swimming along the edges of the reservoir. We have plenty of monitor lizards in Australia but I've never seen one swimming, and what a great swimmer he was. His long powerful tail propelled him gracefully through the water, while his front legs didn't seem to do any work at all. I have read that these creatures can reach 3 metres and often get mistaken for crocodiles in the water, and I can believe it.
We continued along the Chemperai Trail which is a boardwalk along the edge of the water. This was lovely today although I can imagine that if it is busy it may get annoying as it is quite narrow; probably only two people wide. But the path allows for a very pleasant walk, with lots of interesting trees, some of which overhang completely to the water. The forest comes right down to the water, and there is primary forest wherever you look, so it is quite refreshing to be surrounded by nature.
We walked about 2.7km to the start of the Singapore Island Country Club (we could see the sun reflecting off swinging golf sticks for some time) and then headed back through the forest along the Lornie Trail. This route I think took less time as it must be more direct. Here we spotted lots of monkeys, some eating fruit high up in the trees, others sitting together in a sunny clearing in the forest. We saw a whole family; juvenilles playing together and more mature monkeys preening each other. They weren't the least interested in us, so the $500 fine for feeding them must be working. We also saw a clouded monitor lizard- smaller than the water monitor lizard, but much prettier with dappled skin.
MacRitchie Reservoir was the first of its kind in Singapore and has been enlarged twice since its beginnings in 1860. There are over 12ha of primary forest surrounding it, and to walk right around is about 11km, and would take up to 4 hours. The HSBC Tree-top walk along the Pierce Trail must be interesting, although quite a distance from the carpark, and from the maps there doesn't seem to be another entrance.
With children it is quite easy to walk a short distance through the forest and then turn back if they are too small to walk distances. It is just a great escape from the city. Which other city has virgin rainforest so close to the skyscrapers and office blocks?

For a map of the reservoir, go to : www.nparks.gov.sg/imgs/nature_central_map1.jpg

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