Towering Above The Treetops

Smack dab in the heart of MacRitchie Reservoir Park stands the famous Jelutong Tower, an iconic landmark of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

Here’s a little tidbit: The Tower gets its name from the Jelutong tree (Dyera costulata), a massive towering beauty that spirals up to the canopy of the rainforests.

Just like its namesake, Jelutong Tower stretches up seven stories high, treating us to some awesome vistas of the greenery and serene waters of MacRitchie Reservoir and the surrounding steamy jungle.

When the trees around The Tower bloom or bear fruit, it’s like a wild party of critters! Take the Malayan Teak or Leban tree (Vitex pinnata), for example. Its flowers and fruits are like a magnet for birds, bees, and butterflies all year round.

There’s even the Broad-footed Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa latipes), the largest of bees here, buzzing around with its shiny black body and flashy metallic blue green or purple wings. Nicknamed the “Gentle Giant”, this bee’s buzz is worse than its bite.

And guess what? The Plantain Squirrels (Callosciurus notatus) are also big fans of these tasty treats!

Right next to The Tower stands a ginormous Rambutan tree (Nephelium lappaceum). Before it starts popping out fruit, its flowers attract a whole parade of butterflies showing off their fancy moves.

We’ve seen some real lookers strutting their stuff on the stage, such as the Spotted Black Crow (Euploea crameri)…

…the Scarce Silverstreak (Iraota rochana)…

…and the Elegant Emperor (Eulaceura osteria).

And if you’re super lucky, you might just spot some of the forest’s rare birds showing off their feathers. It’s like a real-life bird-watching paradise up there!

The Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike (Hemipus hirundinaceus) decided to make a surprise appearance during one of our outings at The Tower. Not a regular here in Singapore, this cutie pie was likely just popping over from the forests of Malaysia for a visit.

The Violet Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus) was belting out a soulful tune one morning, probably hoping to impress a potential partner as the breeding season kicked off.

The Chestnut-bellied Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus sumatranus), a real showstopper with its funky red eye patch and long flashy tail, is always a delight to encounter during our forest hikes.

And let’s not forget the lovely Thick-billed Green Pigeon (Treron curvirostra) couple, whom we had the pleasure to meet one morning at The Tower. The guy’s got style with his maroon cape and thick nerdy spectacles…

…while the missus prefers to keep it simple with an all-green garb.

Trying to spot the Greater Green Leafbird (Chloropsis sonnerati) is like playing a game of “Where’s Wally” – it’s as elusive as it gets, blending in perfectly with the leaves.

One sunny morning, a boisterous flock of Blue-rumped Parrots (Psittinus cyanurus) came swooping around the tower, noisily debating which cafe to visit for breakfast, before settling in a distant tree.

The Black-headed Bulbul (Brachypodius melanocephalos) is a rare gem of the forest, whose small and dwindling population is confined to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Who knows when we’ll bump into this charming chap again, but we’re definitely looking forward to our next rendezvous!

If you’re planning to visit Jelutong Tower, there are a few ways to hike there. The shortest walk is from the Rifle Range Link trail entrance at Rifle Range Road, which is about 1.6 km one-way or 3.2 km round-trip. However, a car will be required to get to the trailhead at Rifle Range Road.

Another route is from the Lornie Road trail entrance, which is a pleasant 2.5 km (5 km round-trip) hike through scenic reservoir and golf-course views.

For a longer and more satisfying hike, you can start from Windsor Nature Park carpark, which will take you through a 3.2 km (6.4 km round-trip) forest trek.