You know how you sometimes just have that urge to go somewhere specific and it doesn’t escape you? For me, it was the TreeTop Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir. It kept bugging me for weeks. But every Saturday, we’d wake up and let laziness take over.
But we finally did it. 20,000 steps. 10km. 5 1/2 hours.
Lots of water breaks, a reasonable amount of whining and grumbling, plenty of encouragement and uncountable accounts of “How much further?”. But we did it as a family, and I’m very glad we did – it gave us the opportunity to learn to encourage each other and keep going. I think we grew a lot as a family today. Our 7-year old walked it all on her own and I could not be more proud of her!
Little Miss 4-years old managed pretty well on the way up but after the TreeTop Walk, she gave in to tiredness and her very strong father, who loves her very very much, carried her most of the way down.
Download the TreeTop Walk Guide here. It states that the trail ranks moderate to difficult – I didn’t see the guide before and in all honesty, if I had, I may not have tried to tackle this trail with 2 kids. So perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise that I didn’t see it because we didn’t find the walk very difficult at all. There were a few steep portions but that was it. No river crossings, no need to climb anything, no rough portions.
The walk itself was not hard – extremely long, but not difficult. And we say this as an average healthy active family. Just to put things in perspective a little, we walk around quite a bit but we don’t run marathons as a family or anything like that. This was by far, our longest walk together as a family unit.
The highlight of the walk was of course the TreeTop Walk. We started our journey from the Venus Drive car park. Because our sparse research showed that that was the fastest way to get to the TreeTop Walk.
If you’re getting there by public transport, stop at the bus stop opposite Flame Tree Park. You’ll see the road leading into Singapore Island Country Club. Some websites recommend a shorter walk by going on the road leading into Singapore Island Country Club – DO NOT DO THAT. The guards are now very strict and you’ll be asked to turn back. That’s a waste of good energy, and it’s definitely not a good way to start an adventure.
Instead, head toward the Venus Drive car park. You’ll see a sign that screams out TreeTop Walk. From this point up to the TreeTop Walk is about 3km. That took us about 1.5 hours.
The TreeTop Walk itself is a suspension bridge (yes it’s a sturdy one, but it sways very slightly in the wind) and there’s a little security check point to make sure the rule of “One way only” is observed. Once you’re in, you can’t go back. And there’ll be ‘no entry’ signs all over when you leave the TreeTop Walk as well. That’s just to prevent people from crowding the area, I think. Because Heavens forbid it gets overloaded and snaps.
“What if it snaps, Mama?”
“Then we’ll just hold on and scream”
“And what if it doesn’t?”
“Then we’ll hold on and enjoy the view”
And enjoy the view, we did.
What we should have done was to go back the same way we took up. As in back down to Venus Drive car park. But no, we thought we would be smart and go via another route that looked to be shorter.
And that’s the story of how our would-be 6km walk turned into a 10km, 20,000 step, 5 1/2 hour hike.
But we had to keep positive because once you choose a trail, there is no way out and all you have to do is to keep going and make the best out of it. The good thing is that every once in a while, the landscape changes, and the trail you’re walking on varies as well. So that’s quite interesting. At least that’s what I tried telling the little ones. They just pelted me with “How much further till lunch!”.
Wildlife? We met a few monkeys, lots of butterflies and dragonflies, ants and lizards. We may have discovered a few more had we not been so focused on just getting closer to our lunch venue.
There weren’t many spots to sit and rest, but that played a huge part in keeping the nature reserve as natural as possible.
Truth be told, it was challenging at times keeping the kids going. For most parts, they understood that we should avoid talking both to conserve energy and to listen to the sounds of nature. But on and off, there was a need to throw in interesting games to encourage them to move.
When we got tired, we pretended to summon special powers like speed walking or abundant energy, dramatic kungfu style. That’s how different a hike with kids is, versus a regular hike amongst adults!
Not too long ago we’d told the kids about the story of Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” so for a while, the 7-year old and I pretended to be Bill and Katz on the Appalachian Trail. The dream is to one day walk that trail as a family. Or at least, parts of it.
We were very fortunate with the weather – we arrived at 10am and reached our lunch venue (Mushroom Cafe at MacRitchie Reservoir) at 3.30pm. It should have been blazing hot, but we had kind clouds, and didn’t feel much of the heat nor humidity while walking. We did get caught in two passing showers though, but if you think about it, MacRitchie is a water catchment area after all!
And so, after 2 hours of walking in the forest, it is with sheer delight when we are greeted with the beauty of open space.
It was when we saw this that we momentarily forgot our tiredness and just stood here in awe. I’d never seen this side of MacRitchie Reservoir before – it was simply breathtaking. Singapore, you’ve outdone yourself. Well done.
That sight gave us the strength to plod on further. Who would have known we were to have a further 2 hours ahead of us? Not us for sure.
At this juncture we had to choose between the Boardwalk and the Lornie Trail. We went with the boardwalk because we knew we’d have a better view and the idea of going back into the jungle was slightly depressing.
That water was so clear and inviting. I so wish we could have jumped in for a swim. But the though that this is water that we will ultimately drink from our taps some day held us back – we took special care to keep our shoes out of the water as well when we sat on the boardwalk for a rest.
By the time we got to the end of the boardwalk, we knew that it was only a matter of minutes before we could sit and have something to eat. But that was where everyone’s tiredness really kicked in and we practically had to take turns dragging each other.
But finally, lunch was enjoyed, shoes were kicked off, and we congratulated each other for completing the first of many walking adventures. Would we do it again? Definitely. Just not tomorrow.
Here’s what you absolutely must do if you’re thinking of going on this hike:
- Good shoes are a must. We saw a few ladies in dressy sandals and they did not look too happy
- Dri-fit (quick dry) t-shirts are the best
- Water is absolutely necessary. There are two coolers at the Ranger Station (which you will pass on your way up to the TreeTop Walk), and a toilet as well
- Small packs of crackers are useful if you have kids; just remember not to feed them to the monkeys
- Stay away from the monkeys; they’re quite used to visitors and are known to snatch food from them.
- Apply insect repellent
- Umbrellas might come in handy
- Bring your trash out with you. We saw very little litter along the trail thankfully, but really, there should be none.
The TreeTop Walk is located at MacRitchie Reservoir. It is open to public 9am to 5pm on weekdays and 830am to 5pm on weekends; it’s closed on Mondays (except when the Monday falls on a Public Holiday). Do try to go earlier in the day where it’s cooler, and you don’t have to worry about it getting dark.
There are two food options at MacRitchie Reservoir – we opted for the budget friendly Mushroom Cafe at the entrance. Dishes are priced at $4.90-$5.90 and though portions were small, we were satisfied.
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