One of the first things about Kuala Lumpur that will strike many visitors is how green the city is. Shiny new buildings abound, but so do beautiful old trees. And it is not just vegetation in among the concrete that is thriving; KL also has three large urban parks: KLCC Gardens, Titiwangsa Lake Gardens and KL Lake Gardens. All three merit a visit, especially for those travelling with kids, but the city’s most remarkable splash of greenery is a tropical forest slap bang in the middle of the concrete jungle.
Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, which is located at the foot of Menara KL (KL Tower), is the city’s last remaining patch of tropical rainforest. Although just 10 hectares big, it packs in an amazing diversity of flora and fauna, including two species of monkey, snakes, monitor lizards and numerous species of birds. It may be small, but it’s quite possible to see more wildlife in Bukit Nanas in a couple of hours than on an a extended visit to a massive national park such as Taman Negara.
Buki Nanas has been protected for more than 100 years, during which time the city around it has grown from a pioneer settlement of tin miners to the modern bustling metropolis of today. As you stare at one of the huge trees soaring into the sky, it is possible to shut out the traffic noise for a few moments, and imagine what all of KL would have looked like little more than a 150 years ago.
The reserve has a number of clearly marked walking trails, a jogging track, a campsite, an outdoor obstacle course and a bird watching spot. It is open from 07:00 to 19:00 all year, and admission is free. Also free are the highly recommended daily guided nature tours, at 11:00, 12:30, 14:30 and 16:30. Contact the reserve’s visitor centre for more information.
The park can be accessed from several places, including on Jalan Ampang, between Dang Wangi LRT station and Bukit Nanas Monorail station, by the forest product art shop; at the foot of KL Tower; and near the junction of Jalan Raja Chulan and Jalan Bukit Nanas, which is the closest entrance to the visitor centre.
Bear in mind that the trails can be slippery, so comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Although not hardcore trekking, the trails can be energy-sapping, not least because of the heat and humidity, so bring plenty of water with you. As with all tropical environments, biting insects are much in evidence, so a good insect repellent is advisable.
By Pat Fama.