Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Zoos in Singapore - River Safari

We all have heard of the three zoos in Singapore before like the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and the Jurong Bird Park, right? Now, there's a new zoo in town and it's called the River Safari. Despite it being called a 'river', it's actually not located in a river. It's at a reservoir. Technically, it's a new zoo modelled after famous rivers from around the world and it's located right in between the Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari and it's also right inside the Upper Seletar Reservoir. A wide array of wildlife and fun attractions are available as well such as the Amazon River Quest, Giant Panda Forest, Amazon Flooded Rainforest and so much more. Below are details on what this new zoo is all about and what you should expect when you visit this remarkable place. Just to let you know, when I mention the word 'zoo' in this article, I am mainly referring to the River Safari.

A remarkable entry point design

When you first reach the River Safari, you actually have to buy tickets at the same place where you queue tickets for the Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari. A word of warning though, the line is very long even on a weekday. Once you have gotten your tickets, don't be confused on where to enter. The entrance to the River Safari is right in between the Zoo and the Night Safari. Once you see this tribal-themed dome, you have headed to the right place. I really do enjoy the tribal-themed design as it makes you think that you are in the actual place. The River Safari just opened recently and it fully opened in late 2013 so everything still looks very brand new.

Your journey begins here

On your left is where you can start your adventures around the River Safari. Once you're inside this nice air-conditioned room, you'll be greeted with projector screens that show what life's like at the various rivers around the world. You'll be more knowledgeable about the wildlife in the rivers around the world and how important it is to take care of Mother Nature. If you worry about yourself getting wet throughout your trip when it's raining, not to worry as the River Safari is fully covered with shelters and canopies throughout the zoo. Futhermore, the zoo is a little bit on the small side which is why there are canopies and shelters are available almost everywhere.

The Upper Seletar Reservoir

This is precisely where the River Safari is located. It's located right at the Upper Seletar Reservoir and it's between the two world-famous zoos, the Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari. The area around the three zoos is mainly forested and the reservoir itself is crucial for Singapore's water supply.

Rivers around the River Safari

The River Safari is mainly made up of different 'rivers'. Basically, each section of the zoo is themed after the famous rivers around the world. There's a section called Mekong River featuring animals found in the actual Mekong River and another themed section called the River Nile with animals from the actual River Nile. This concept applies to the other themed 'rivers' as well. At each section, plenty of informational boards that talked about the animals that you see in the showcases were available but I mostly skip them and look at the animals up close and personally instead. Although, I think it's a better idea to not skip them and read more about them so you get to appreciate the animals even more.

How the actual rivers look like

If you want to know how each and every river in the world looks like, I walked past a photo gallery that shows photos of the actual rivers. For example, the picture right above is the picture of the Aswan Dam located near the River Nile. I was taken aback at how beautiful the places looked like. I'm pretty sure it looks even more beautiful in real life. These nature marvels are really mesmerising and it would be great if I can actually go there and check out the real deal.

More river animals in the River Safari

Unfortunately, I can't recall all the names of the animals that I have taken pictures of due to a lack of time as I was rushing. I only managed to take a peek of the animals in the River Safari. It's great that each exhibit closely resembles the actual living environments for the animals similar to the other three zoos in Singapore. It's like as if you are feeling right at home even though you are living in another country. All the animals found at the River Safari were indeed very cute and roaming around freely in their respective exhibits (I'm not saying that they roam around the zoo freely). There are tons of animals that can be found right here at the River Safari so if you are huge animal lover or maybe you just want to find a perfect place to visit during your vacation, this is definitely the place to check out.

The Giant Panda Forest

Some of you may know the famous Jia Jia and Kai Kai, the pair of giant pandas loaned from China that came to Singapore a few years back as part of research purposes. You can find out more about what the research is all about in the River Safari website link below. The Giant Panda forest is where you can find the pair of pandas along with several of their friends as well like the red panda. The attraction is a little bit like an air-conditioned sports hall so it's a great place to go to to get some cool air-con comfort after walking around the River Safari during a hot day.

The red panda

This is how the red panda looks like. It looks a little bit like a cross between a cat and a fox to be honest. This particular red panda is very active and he is seen running around the exhibit multiple times before climbing onto one of the trees while his other friends are just resting and probably taking a break after spending their day there. It has been said that the red pandas were the original pandas 50 years before the giant counterparts. More information will be available in the official River Safari website. Walk further ahead and you will see more pandas and how their diet looks like.

The famous Jia Jia and Kai Kai

Walk further ahead and you'll eventually spot one of the two famous giant pandas that were loaned from China. Unfortunately, only one of them appeared in the open while the other hid into its indoor chamber as it was known to be a shy one. I can't fully remember which is which though. It's no wonder people welcomed the two giant pandas. There were definitely huge in size and not only that, there were cute munching all that bamboo all by itself. When you step out of the Giant Panda Forest, you'll be greeted with a gift shop that sell all things related to the Giant Panda Forest and also merchandise under the theme of Jia Jia and Kai Kai. The Giant Panda Forest is definitely worth checking out even though it's quite a short route.

Take a break at the Mama Panda Kitchen

After walking through half the River Safari, you can actually visit the Mama Panda Kitchen casual restaurant to take a break and feast in food with the theme of giant pandas. I can't really tell you what they sell though as I did not step into the restaurant but what I do know is that they sell a wide range of food like noodles and their famous Panda Chocolate Custard Pau as seen from the picture above. Do let me know about your visit to this restaurant if you happen to enter the place.

A Ride on the Amazon River Quest

Apart from the Giant Panda Forest, another big attraction is the Amazon River Quest which is basically like a boat ride along a river. Along the ride, you can see a wide variety of animals from the famous Amazon River. It's like a theme park boat ride although it's much much slower. Thankfully, when I came here for a ride back in early January, no extra charges were being charged if you decide to visit the Amazon River Quest.

All you have to do is to pay admission charges as usual and once you have reached the entrance of the River Safari, just book the timing for the boat ride. However, from now onwards, there will be an additional $5 fee if you decide to enter the boat ride and check out the whole River Safari. No additional fee will be charged if you intend to just explore the whole River Safari.

Queuing for the ride

As you can see from the pictures above, the queue is extremely long. It's no wonder you have to book the timing first before entering the boat ride. The queue will take around 45 mins to 1 hour so you definitely need to have the patience to stand for long periods. Don't worry about the ride not being worth it after queuing for so long. I can assure you the boat ride will be nothing like you have seen or rode on before.

This is how riding on the Amazon River Quest looks and feels like

The boat doesn't really look like the 'sampan' kind of boat or the boats that can be found along the Singapore River. It's more like a roller coaster ride where everyone will be seated in front of each other and that everyone has to wear seat belts and pull the handle bar down to their knees. However, unlike a typical roller coaster ride, it's really very slow and it's like as if you are sightseeing.

If you sit right in front also known as the Splash Zone, you may get splashed with water but unfortunately, nobody was allowed to sit at the Splash Zone. Along the ride, you can see all kinds of animals that can be found along the Amazon River like flamingoes, jaguars and the maned wolf. Not all animals will appear though as it all depends on their mood. Overall, the ride, although slow and steady, is really memorable and enjoyable. Would be great if it can be a teeny bit faster and longer and it would be even better if you don't charge an additional fee for the boat ride just like when it first opened.

The Amazon Flooded Forest

After visiting the wonderful Amazon River Quest boat ride, it's time to check out the Amazon Flooded Forest. It's basically an aquarium similar to the ones found at the Underwater World in Sentosa but featuring animals from the Amazon basin. It's a really very interesting exhibit and one that is fully air-conditioned. This is another great exhibit to visit after a long and hot day around the River Safari. There were big and beautiful glass walls that let you take an up close and personal look of the wonderful animals at the Amazon Flooded Forest aquarium. Take note that this part of the River Safari is indeed very big and will definitely take some time to explore the whole place so do take your time and you may need to be careful when walking as some areas were quite dark.

Overall thoughts

Overall, the River Safari is a great place to spend the school holidays or on any day. It's certainly refreshing to see a new zoo pop up. I'm actually quite tired of seeing the Singapore Zoo (although I do applaud the company for constantly pumping new activities and facilities there) so the new River Safari is definitely a refreshing change.

Not only that, I like that most of the River Safari pathways are sheltered to protect you from the sun and rain. It was raining a little bit on that day so the Amazon River Quest boat ride was closed temporarily but thankfully, skies were sunny and clear by the time I arrived at the attraction. The River Safari, although small, is certainly a refreshing change from the Singapore Zoo and all the other zoos in Singapore. Tickets may be a little bit on the pricey side but it's certainly worth the visit.

Getting Here

Bus services available: 138, 927 (Bus stop along Mandai Lake Road outside Singapore Zoological Gardens)

Nearest MRT Station: NS16 Ang Mo Kio MRT Station (North South Line) and NS4/BP1 Choa Chu Kang MRT Station (North South Line/Bukit Panjang LRT) TRANSFER TO 138 OR 927


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1 comment:

  1. Very informative article. Your post helped me to have clear insight about the tourist places in Singapore. It helped me to plan my tour well in advance. Can u please update more details on Singapore Zoo Ticket Price


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