Macaw Parrot in Flight, Henderson Waves, Singapore

Henderson Waves – Nature Meets the City

The Henderson Waves, bridging the Southern Ridges nature parks, give us a view of untamed nature integrated into the heart of urban Singapore…

When it comes to bringing nature back into the city, no other country has been as successful as Singapore. From the very start, nature has always been present in Singapore. After all, it is a tropical country with a climate that makes it easy for plant and animal life to flourish. In recent years, it has both created new green areas – like Gardens by the Bay – and made existing nature parks more accessible.

The fingers of an enormous underground biomechanical creature piercing the jungle cover… or the Reflections Towers at Keppel Bay, you choose

One of my favourite places to visit in Singapore are the Henderson Waves. Whenever I’m asked to recommend things to do in Singapore, the Waves are high up on the list. The bridge is a great example of how architecture and nature can be brought together in a very urbanised place. It is a truly inspired piece of engineering.

Impressive panorama of the Singapore downtown, with the angry tropical skies getting ready to unleash a massive downpour

While walking on the bridge, you’ll get to see, spread out before you, the lush green of Mount Faber Park on one side, and the shophouses of Chinatown, dominated by communist style city blocks, on the other. I’ve been to many cities and I can say there is nothing quite like this view. Its right out of a science fiction movie.

Many onlookers on the bridge were mesmerised by the brightly coloured parrots on display, us included

The Henderson Waves are part of a 5 kilometer trail called the Southern Ridges Walk that joins Kent Ridge Park, Telok Blangah Hill and Mount Faber Park. This trail starts as a paved path in the forest of Mount Faber before opening up to the Henderson Waves and ending with a descent down an elevated ramp that winds down through the forest canopy and finishes at Hort Park.

A brightly coloured macaw flying against a backdrop of largely colourless high-rises – yet another contrast so typical of Singapore

When we visited the Waves, we were fortunate enough to see some domesticated parrots and macaws that had been taken out for some flight time. From what it seemed like to me, the owners do this regularly, so if you’re lucky, you might get to see them too.

The beautiful creatures are very photogenic and we had to wait around for some time until their owners felt the birds could be released to fly around the bridge for that perfect shot! Against the verdant backdrop of Mount Faber Park, one could almost imagine it was taken in the Amazon jungle. Apparently there’s a lot to be weary of when releasing your domesticated bird out for flight in an urban area – there are hawks in the skies of Singapore and the owners have to be sure there isn’t one in sight when their bird is soaring free.

Life is plentiful in the park, and fruits of all colours and shapes provide nourishment for its many denizens

It was raining on our day out in the Southen Ridges Park, but that still did no stop us from seeing many different bird species. I remember being surprised at seeing the pink necked pigeon – mostly because I never thought there were any other types of pigeons then those dreary gray ones.

These three bee-eaters, perched on the bare branches seem unperturbed by the drizzle, one of them proudly presenting its latest catch

We spotted plenty of birdlife walking up Mount Faber and during out canopy walk downwards after exiting the Henderson Waves. Here, the trail leads past a gallery of giant trees, like the Tualang and the Jelutong, which grows up to an average height of 60 meters (that’s about 20 stories!). It was magical to walk so high above the ground level, sheltered by the shade of some truly magnificient trees.

Even within the serenity of the canopy walk, one can never forget the urban jungle that Singapore is, and the patterned vistas of the HDB flats are never far away

We exited the forest walk and came face to face with a residential building, a reminder that we were, after all in a city. I quite loved the contrasts – it is proof that humans can live with nature, and live with it well.