Hiking At The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve/Training for Mt. Kinabalu

As we inch closer to our trip to Sabah, the students have been training for the trek by climbing plenty of stairs every week. As I’ve concluded in my last post, stairs are great for training legs and cardio for the ascent up Mt. Kinabalu, a 4,000m summit in East Malaysia. But we want our students to become with familiar with uneven, undulating terrain and steep stairs. You know, like a real trail?

A friendly monitor lizard.
A friendly monitor lizard.
Last year's hikes. The 'shortcut' route to the summit, which is basically giant, even steps. We'll do this one a few times for kicks.
From our hike last year. The ‘shortcut’ route to the summit, which are basically giant, uneven steps. We’ll do this one a few times for kicks.

So last week we went on a hike at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, a patch of rainforest in central Singapore, with our big packs in tow. Bukit Timah Hill is the highest point of this relatively flat country and at 163.63m, it is indeed just a hill. Despite not being very high in elevation, the steep trails can offer a fairly decent physical beating – especially if you’re loaded down with a 10kg bag. And when it’s sunny and humid, even the locals feel the heat. Anyway, we don’t actually want to kill our students. The trails around here are actually one of only two or three places in Singapore in which hikers can train for difficult terrain so you can see tons of people hiking on the weekends.

The bus dropped us off at the parking lot and we were surprised that all of the trails surrounding the summit were closed for maintenance. It was unfortunate because those trails are the steepest and with the most stairs. This was going to be a walk in the park!

At least we got to walk on real trails.
At least we got to walk on real trails.

Our hike lasted around 2.5 hours through various rainforest trails. Usually, we will find steep sections of trail and do it a few times for a real leg workout but alas, we walked mostly on mountain bike trails out of desperation. The great thing though is the amazing variety of wildlife and plants that one gets to see in the reserve. Here are some of the more interesting ones from this year and last year.

Figs! Singapore is home to many types of figs.
Figs! Singapore is home to many types of figs.
A tropical millipede. Much larger than the ones in Canada!!
A tropical millipede of sorts. Much larger than the ones in Canada!!
A Guineafowl. Very friendly walked straight up to the kids. We suspect it was an escapee from somewhere.
A Guineafowl. It was very friendly and walked straight up to the kids. We suspect it was an escapee from somewhere.

You can also find various tropical birds, reptiles and mammals in the small reserve. Monitors lizards are often spotted sunning on the trails (often confused by tourists as Komodo Dragons, in which they are definitely not.). Vipers are present in some parts of the trails, apparently. The picture below show signs of wild boars. They like to dig up the side of the path with their noses in search of food.

Wild boar evidence.
Wild boar evidence. Can you spot the hoof prints?

Have you been to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and seen some interesting creatures? Comments are welcome 🙂

-J

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