Uncover a wholly different side of Singapore at these iconic parks that boasts rich biodiversity and history
It’s a well-known fact that space comes at a premium in Singapore. Luckily the high-rise city skyline is offset with trees and green spaces everywhere you look – and the island is home to one of the Top 10 Indoor Gardens of the World, the beautiful Gardens by the Bay. Here are three nature reserves to keep you in touch with Mother Earth.
Monitor Lizard at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Andrew H
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Despite only covering 0.2% of Singapore’s total land area at 163 hectares, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is home to about 40% of the city’s undisturbed flora and fauna including the seraya trees, the Singapore freshwater crab and furry critters like Horsfield’s flying squirrel, the colugo or the alien-looking pangolin.
There are nature hikes held every second and fourth Saturday of the month for outdoorsy types, though the nature reserve is currently closed in phases for restoration and repair works of the forest habitat. The main road trail leading to the summit of Bukit Timah Hill is slated to reopen on weekends from March 2015, while the rest of the reserve is targeted to open in September 2016.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, 177 Hindhede Drive, Singapore 589318.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
A bird watcher’s paradise, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is Singapore’s first ASEAN Heritage Park, renowned for its habitat of migratory birds, reptiles, crustaceans and wetland vegetation. Strap on your binoculars and spot everything from purple and grey herons to stork-billed kingfishers and yellow bitterns. Your best time to see a vast array of birds is between September and March each year, so it helps to plan ahead. Don’t forget there are plenty more on the ground, too – the Malayan water monitor lizard, mud lobsters and even tree-climbing crabs can all be seen from the observation posts around the park.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, 301 Neo Tiew Crescent, Singapore 718925, p. 6794 1401. Open daily 7am-7pm.
Labrador Nature Reserve, William Cho
Labrador Nature Reserve
Labrador Nature Reserve is an all-in-one terrain characterised by its rocky shore, coastal forest, mangroves, mudflats, parkland and Adinandra belukar (a type of secondary rainforest).
The reserve is broken up into three segments – the Alexandra Garden Trail, Berlayer Vreek mangrove trail and Bukit Chermin Boardwalk. Not only does it contain impressive wildlife diversity, Labrador Nature Reserve is also a historical site housing war relics like the WWII fort and a series of secret tunnels built in the 1880s under British rule. A little tip for cyclists and hikers: it’s connected via Southern Ridges, a 10km stretch of green open spaces that include Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park and Kent Ridge Park.
Note: The Rocky Shore and Jetty are currently closed until further notice.
Labrador Nature Reserve, Labrador Villa Road, Singapore 119187.
Top image: Cai Yixiong, via NParks.