Singapore’s largest nature reserve covers over 2,000 ha of tropical rainforest, swamps, and lakes. Despite being in the middle of an urban hub, the Central Catchment Nature Reserve is an important location for Singapore’s remaining wildlife. It is one of the best places in the country to catch a glimpse of oriental whip snakes, barred eagle owls, and long-tailed macaques as well as numerous reptiles and bird species. Although rare and elusive, the Central Catchment is also home to pangolin, slow loris, colugos, king cobra, pythons, and mouse deer.
The reserve can be accessed from various locations. One of the most easily accessible is the MacRitchie Reservoir Park, a 15-minute walk or short bus journey from Caldecott MRT Station. From here there are several trails ranging from easy to moderate difficulty. If you’re up for a challenge, the MacRitchie to Bukit Timah trail is recommended. This gives you the chance to see wild boar, racket-tailed drongos, and if you’re lucky, the Raffles banded langur, a monkey only found in Singapore. The reserve is also home to a 250 m long TreeTop Walk, which allows you to look out over the rainforest and experience life in the canopy.
Make sure to avoid walking the site during one of Singapore’s frequent thunderstorms. If a storm is on the brink, take refuge in one of the huts along the walking trails.
Average rating: 5.0 (very good)
Average spend per person: entrance to the reserve is free, public transport to the site costs around $10
Number of reports: 1
Best time to visit: a visit from March to October avoids the wettest months in Singapore
Typical activities: animal watching, bird watching, hiking, jungle trek, walking
WILDLIFE IN Central Catchment
According to reports submitted to WildSide, the species visitors most want to see here include:
Barred eagle owl – 100% of visitors (1/1) reported sightings
An occasional resident of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, the barred eagle owl is a beautiful but small species of eagle owl with an incredible set of facial expressions. This species is highly elusive and difficult to spot within the rainforest canopy due to its mottled feathers. Watch out for drongos mobbing other birds for your best chance to catch a sighting of this majestic owl. We saw one when we visited and it was a highlight of our trip!
Macaque– 100% of visitors (1/1) reported sightings
One of the easiest mammals to spot in the Central Catchment. Long-tailed (or crab-eating) macaques congregate in troops of up to 20 moving around the forest throughout the day. Just by walking around the nature reserve you’re likely to encounter macaques. As they’re accustomed to people, they aren’t scared of approaching you and can become aggressive if food or plastic bags are on show. Make sure to keep all food, drinks, and plastic hidden away or in a rucksack. Smiling directly at macaques can aggravate them, as showing your teeth is seen as a threat!
Oriental whip snake – 100% of visitors (1/1) reported sightings
While mildly venomous, these bright green snakes are extremely docile and generally unafraid of humans. This enables them to be seen shining out amongst the undergrowth around the footpaths. They can be difficult to spot, however, as they blend in well with their green surroundings. These agile creatures don’t stay still for long. Using their vine-like bodies to navigate, they can climb extremely fast up trees and across branches. So keep a close eye out for rustling or movement in the undergrowth or branches.
Racket-tailed drongo – 100% of visitors (1/1) reported sightings
These jet black birds can be found within the Central Catchment Nature Reserve in the canopy where they are usually found looking for insects or seeds. With their long, racket-shaped tail feathers and stunning calls, these birds can’t go unnoticed. Drongos can be aggressive and routinely mob larger birds, such as birds of prey. So they can be a good way to spot owls and raptors. Both greater and lesser racket-tails are present in the reserve although it is notoriously difficult to tell them apart. Check out this discussion board if you’re interested.
Wild boar – 100% of visitors (1/1) reported sightings
When exploring the jungle trails, wild boar are occasionally seen migrating through the Central Catchment on the lookout for seeds, tubers, and young plants to eat. Although wild boar are usually startled when coming across people, they can become aggressive, particularly when females have young. So make sure to keep your distance! If you want to see wild boar, WildSide recommends taking the MacRitchie to Bukit Timah trail through the reserve.