The king of Singapore’s hills has returned. All hail Bukit Timah Hill and the surrounding Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
After being closed for two years (gosh, has it been that long) and being partially reopened in 2015, Bukit Timah Hill and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve are now all ready to receive visitors.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Reopens
It was closed on 14 September 2014 to enhance visitor safety. More than 400,000 people visited the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve annually. This resulted in soil erosion and hence a need for stabilisation works on the slopes. This two-year downtime also allowed NParks to instate measures to protect the reserve through enrichment planting.
Some of the enhancements at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve include reinforced trail steps and rope railing which help to better define the trails. There are also raised boardwalks that make the visitor experience more pleasant while protecting the natural environment.
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Amazingly, most of the trail repair work was done without machinery. Even the boardwalks were pre-made and then hand-carried in and installed!
These enhancements make Bukit Timah Nature Reserve more accessible than before. As a result, with the enhanced trails and boardwalks, even the young and elderly can venture off the Main Path and go deeper into the reserve.
Still undecided? Here are six reasons why you should consider making plans to pay the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve a visit sometime soon!
Exploring Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Reason 1: Be Schooled on Local Flora & Fauna at the Revamped Bukit Timah Hill Visitor Centre
Welcoming visitors at the foot of Bukit Timah Hill is the Visitor Centre. This 20-year old building has been refreshed to showcase the plant and animal life found within Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
At the centre of the galley is a glass case that displays native flora and fauna such as the Sunda Pangolin.
One animal on display that used to be, but is no longer, prevalent in Singapore is the Sumatran Tiger. Two specimens are on display – imagine bumping into them on a walk through the nature reserve.
The Exhibition Gallery also has interactive touchscreens where both adults and children can learn about the biodiversity found within the nature reserve.
Exhibits include an interactive tree spotting display and others which highlight the species found inside Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
The Visitor Centre is open from 8 am to 5.30 pm daily.
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Reason 2: Reach for the Summit
Why climb to the Bukit Timah Hill summit? Because it is there, of course!
After all, Singapore’s Mount Everest is easily surmounted at only 164 m tall. The main path to the top is well-paved, a little steep at the beginning, but otherwise easy to scale.
Did you know a holiday chalet once stood at the top of the hill? Nowadays, you just have to be content with the satisfaction of scaling Singapore’s natural zenith and taking a short rest under a shelter before making your way down.
There are two ways to get up. One is to follow the paved Main Path. The other is a set of stairs. This alternative route is shorter but steeper. The choice is yours.
Reason 3: Get in Touch with Nature
The beauty of the nature reserve is that you can be back in touch with *ahem* nature. The best way to do this is to leave behind the throngs of people on the Main Path. Escape to one of the side trails. Here, you are likely to find the tranquillity of nature – even though the sound of traffic from the BKE never seems far away.
In the forest, you will be surrounded by the sounds of the rainforest. Be quiet and you may even get to spot the occasional wildlife.
What’s more, the natural surroundings appear to make people better natured too. Give a smile or wave a greeting to other you meet along the side trails.
Reason 4: See the Caves
Wait, there are caves at Bukit Timah Hill?
Yes, there are.
Hidden off the Main Path is the Caves Path. This path can be accessed either from the South View Hut or Catchment Path. Make your way along the Caves Path and you will find the caves.
These caves were supposedly made by Japanese soldiers during World War II to store supplies (and some even say treasure). Nowadays, the cave entrances are gated with metal grills to prevent people from entering.
The Caves Path is a moderate difficulty trail. Be prepared to trek up and down many earth-cut trail steps along the way. Be sure to wear proper shoes and take care along the trail.
Reason 5: Do the Backward Wiggle with Everyone Else
When descending Bukit Timah Hill, the final section of the Main Path is so steep that many people do a 180-degree turn and go down backwards. This prevents gravity from pulling them uncontrollably downwards to the bottom of the hill ala Humpty Dumpty. Well, if everyone is doing it, join in too! Kids find this fun. After all, where else in Singapore can you do the backward wiggle with everyone else?
Reason 6: Explore an Awesome Park & Playground
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is, *ahem, ahem*, reserved for nature. But, did you know that a stone’s throw away is a park reserved for fun-seekers and families?
Hindhede Nature Park is a short walk away from the Visitor Centre. At the Park, you will find play equipment like a bouncy trampoline and swings.
After visiting the playground, venture slightly further in and you can soak in the view of the Hindhede Quarry. Hindhede Nature Park is easily accessible even with strollers. It is one way to appreciate Bukit Timah Hill without making the trek to the top!
For more information on Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, visit the NParks website here. Finally, and most of all, be sure to respect nature and observe proper etiquette while in the Nature Reserve.