Get a sense of the jungle and visit the MacRitchie Reservoir in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve in the early morning. This loop hike over boardwalks and on gravel paths over forest covered hills is excellent for spotting exciting wildlife, from monitor lizards and turtles to flying lemur and stingrays.
We took a bus to one of the entrances of the park, but since it is a loop hike, you can for instance also start from the Macritchie Reservoir bus stop or take a Grab there. We did this hike on a Sunday morning in October 2021.
Tips for MacRitchie Reservoir Hike
- This hike goes through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.
- MacRitchie Reservoir Park is in the southern-eastern end of the reserve.
- The nature reserve is open from 7 am to 7 pm.
- There is shade from the trees for a large part of the hike, but some sections are open and sunny.
- Bring a sun hat, sunscreen and and plenty of water along.
- The main path around the reservoir is unpaved so choose appropriate shoes.
- Navigation offline maps app Maps.me works quite well but not all trails on the map are open in reality.
The popularity was the biggest drawback of this hike. It was rather busy as it was a Sunday morning and everyone tries to avoid the heat and start early. If you want to avoid the crowd, go on a weekday and/or hike later in the day, although it may get hot. Despite the busy trails, we saw a lot of wildlife.
After making our way over to the park and the reservoir, we had a choice between a boardwalk along the edge of the artificial lake or on the main gravel path. We took the boardwalk as later on in the hike there are less opportunities to see MacRitchie Reservoir as the trail ventures away from it.
Prunus & Petai Boardwalk
As we started early, there was a beautiful mist still hanging above parts of the lake. There are many nice views of the MacRitchie Reservoir from the boardwalks. We had a lot of interesting sightings.
We saw some very large fish in the surprisingly clear water, as well as big monitor lizards and smaller tortoise. On the boardwalk itself and in the nearby trees there was a group of macaque monkeys literally hanging out.
See Wildlife up Close with Binoculars
To see all the nice animals on this hike up close, get a decent pair of binoculars. I have had a pair of Bresser binoculars* for over 20 years now and they are pretty indestructible and work well. Another well-reviewed pair on Amazon are these Celestrons:
Celestron Nature DX 8×42 Binoculars on Amazon*.
Check out the complete list of hiking gear needed for Singapore:
MacRitchie Nature Trail
After a bit more than two kilometres, the Prunus and Petai Boardwalks end and you find yourself on the MacRitchie Nature Trail, the main gravel path around the reservoir through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. This path goes through the jungle, so there aren’t many views but there is a bit of climb up and down the hills.
You end up at an entrance from where you can go to Windsor Park. We turned left, down a flight of stairs to continue on the MacRitchie Nature Trail. This brings you to a broad carless road and a drinking water reservoir, where you have a choice to follow the road or take the short Terentang trail. We opted for the road as it seemed less busy.
The road turns into a path later on and not much further you are on the Sime Track.
This is again a gravel path in the jungle with not a lot of views or noteworthy things, apart from a lookout tower. The five floors of the Jelutong Tower give you a changing view of the trees, from the bottom to the tree tops. You can see a bit further away from the top platform, although no great 360 degree views of Singapore.
On the boardwalk that starts a bit after the Jelutong Tower, we saw an interesting animal hanging on a tree trunk: A flying lemur. That was quite exciting and a first!
The Sime Track end up at the Golf Link, a path along Singapore Island Country Club Golf Course. Here, views of the MacRitchie Reservoir start to appear again and shade is not plentiful anymore. There are quite nice grassy sections leading to the edge of the lake. We spotted a very slender heron in the reeds.
With the trail being quite busy and the golf course largely empty, you do wonder about the division of land. They could have set aside a bit more than a sliver of land on the edge of the golf course. In other sections of the reserve, opening up a few more paths could also reduce the pressure off the main trail.
Jering & Chemperai Boardwalk
The Golf link ends up at another set of boardwalks. The Jering and Chemparai boardwalks really skirt the side of the reservoir and sometimes hover above it. This gives you a really good vantage point of spotting life in the water. We saw a few stingray, many fish, and a large Asiatic Softshell Turtle with its distinctive white nose.
These boardwalks are rather pleasant with great views of the reservoir. Alternatively, you could have taken the Lornie Trail through the forest, but I wouldn’t opt for that.
MacRitchie Reservoir Park
The last section of the MacRitchie Reservoir hike takes you through the actual MacRitchie Reservoir Park. The paths become paved and there is more a park than jungle vibe here, with nice flowers, big trees and open grassy sections. To get back to the start, we crossed a big dam creating the reservoir.
On the other side of the dam is a section dedicated to fishing and also a kayak/canoe rental and launching place. Next time we will give that a try as the views from the water should definitely be nice. Not much further, we were back at the start and took a bus back home. The end of a nice & active Sunday morning.
FAQs on MacRitchie Reservoir Hike
The park is part of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve which is open from 7 am to 7 pm.
The Central Catchment Nature Reserve is open from 7 am to 7 pm.
No pets are allowed in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.