KL’s last remaining patch of tropical rainforest
Previously known as Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, KL Forest Eco Park encompasses a section of a slowly-reducing-in-size patch of rainforest in the centre of Kuala Lumpur.
First gazetted in 1906 as Bukit Weld Forest Reserve, at the time the reserve encompassed towards 20 hectares of forest, however, thanks to the slow but steady drumbeat of encroachment, along with the KL Tower, today it measures less than half the original ground space, coming in at just nine hectares.
At the time of writing (late 2017), the northern entrance, semi-convenient to Dang Wangi and/or Bukit Nanas LRT stations was closed, meaning the only two practical approaches are via the well signposted entrance in the carpark of KL Tower and a beyond obscure entrance on the southern stretch of Jalan Raya Chulan—the latter is just a 15 minute walk from Chinatown, so, unless you like to work up a sweat, it makes sense to start at the top and walk your way down.
We started from the carpark at KL Tower and while we saw two terrestrial trails running off to the right, we did not investigate these and are unsure if you have to backtrack out—the mapping is not great and with the northern entrance closed you may need to walk back up to KL Tower to get out. Ask beforehand if this is of concern.
We took the easy route, walking straight ahead onto a series of canopy walks which take you through the southwest quarter of the reserve. Bouncy at times, much to the delight of the squad of local kids we enjoyed the walk with, the elevation gives you a better view into the canopy and some great views out to the city. There are not many cities in the world that can boast a rainforest canopy walk in the middle of downtown.
There is just the single route, which takes 30 to 45 minutes to complete, and it slowly staggers its way down via a series of towers with external spiral staircases wrapped around solid towers when you need to drop down to a lower rope bridge. The walkways are cement steps, cracked and crumbling in places (watch your step after rain), but considerably more solid than some of the wooden rope bridges we’ve traipsed across. There is netting on each side and while there are no cable ties or anything like that, it struck us as being pretty pedestrian friendly.
One irritant is that while there are signboards along the way telling you what you are looking at, you need to download a QR code reading app to be able to find out what the caption is! Talk about using technology to make travel harder!
At the end of the rope walkways you’ll reach a larger tower, take the stairs down to ground level, and then follow the stairs and pathway down and out to Jalan Raya Chulan. The top of the trail is behind the small building in front of you—it is not signposted, but it is there! It will take you down through a small spice garden and then, before you know it you’ll be out of the rainforest and back in KL.
The chance of you seeing any wildlife whatsoever on the ropewalk is remote. We didn’t even see any birds, but it was the middle of the day—perhaps earlier in the morning or late afternoon would pay better dividends. In the past, we’ve walked the trails on the ground and seen a few monitor lizards. You’ll most likely not see a tiger...maybe some butterflies though.
Yes, we wish it was bigger and we wish it wasn’t semi tied-in with a visit to KL Tower, but if you’re already at the tower and travelling under your steam, especially if you have kids with you, then walking the rope walk bridges are a no-brainer. Bring water—there is nowhere to buy water along the way aside from the sops at KL Tower.
Admission to KL Forest Eco Park is free. The closest access points are Dang Wangi LRT station and Bukit Nanas monorail station, but neither of them are comfortable walking distance to an entrance point as the northern entrance (at the time or writing in late 2017) was closed.
Address: Bukit Nanas, accessed via Jalan Raja Chulan or KL Tower
Coordinates (for GPS): 101º42'8.82" E, 3º9'4.48" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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