The Central Catchment Nature Reserve in Singapore is a huge area that covers over 2,000 hectares of forest. There are over twenty kilometres of walking trails within the park and it is open from 7am until 7pm daily. There are various locations that you can start your walks within the park and you can take short walks or longer walks throughout the park. It is very easy to access the Central Catchment Nature Reserve by public transport. Drinking water is available at the public toilets, but they are some distance apart and you will need to carry plenty of water due to the heat and humidity.
Central Catchment Nature Reserve map
As with many of the nature reserves in Singapore they do tend to be busier on Sundays and also close to the car-parks, but beyond that you can walk alone in the forest. Well, not quite alone because you often encounter the Long-tailed Macaques as in the header photo! You should not carry plastic bags that rustle, because the Long-tailed Macaques associate the sound with food. Then there are the Wild Boars, Plantain Squirrels, Monitor Lizards and of course the bird-life. Also, don’t steal the birds!!
One of the attractions is the Tree Top Walk, which allows you to walk through the top of the tree canopy. It is not open on Mondays unless it is a public holiday and it is also a one way system to avoid congestion. From the Tree Top Walk you can go on to the Jelutong Tower and climb the stairs for another view of the forest. You can sit there and observe the wildlife before continuing on.
Tree Top Walk
There are also shelters throughout the nature reserve should you be caught out by the weather.
The Long-tailed Macaques appeared to like to be close to the public toilets, where they would be more likely to encounter food no doubt! There were also some beautiful butterflies to be seen and easily photographed as they lay on the concrete.
There is a really good number of bird species to be observed in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and it is an eBird Hotspot. Over two hundred bird species have been observed in the nature reserve and we found it an excellent place to go birding and walking. We covered all of the forest trails during our visits to the nature reserve and the boardwalks make it suitable for walking even after there has been rain in recent days. It also means that you can walk quietly through the forest without the worry of noisy leaves!
Boardwalk in the nature reserve
I won’t go into all of the many bird species that we encountered in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, because it is a long list. You can see the birds that were seen at this location for the first time during our Singapore trip here. It is a great place to encounter Greater Racket-tailed Drongos. We found that most of the birds that we saw did not have two complete tail feathers, though.
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Some of the birds were very hard to photograph in the dense forest once you had actually observed them. Chestnut-bellied Malkoha and Asian Fairy-bluebirds are not always easily found and then there is the challenge of photographing them.
Closer to the ground we often encountered Oriental Magpie-Robins. This bird species was encountered in the parks and gardens in Singapore as well as the forests.
There are at least three locations within the Central Catchment Nature Reserve where there are Blue-winged Pittas. Due to the fact that the leaves are often damp and there is no sound as they move around it is the slight movement as they hop through the undergrowth that gives them away. Common Emerald Doves are another bird species we encountered within the nature reserve and once again it is slight movement among the vegetation that gives them away.
Common Emerald Dove
As you can see there is plenty to observe in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Whether plant-life, animals or birds are of interest or you just want to walk in a forest then this is a place to put on your checklist of places to visit in Singapore.