Kuala Lumpur’s best green escapes
With soaring towers, condo complexes and mammoth malls crowding the streets and skyline of Kuala Lumpur (KL), it’s reassuring to know that Mother Nature continues to have a significant stake in and around the Malaysian capital.
KL Forest Eco Park
The park occupies 9.3 hectares of Bukit Nanas, a hill that once was the location of a long-gone Malay fort and is so named because pineapple (nanas) trees once grew around its base, their spiky foliage providing a natural defensive wall. Today visitors are very welcome, with a paved road leading to the summit crowned by one of the city’s top tourist attractions and visual icons, the Menara Kuala Lumpur.
Having taken in the 360-degree panorama of the city and its surrounds from the 421m telecommunications tower, don’t rush off as the park is threaded with several short hiking trails. There’s also a new canopy walkway that puts you at eye level with the tops of the soaring trees, such as Jelutong and Merawan Batu, some of which are as old as KL itself.
Go in search of the herbal and orchid gardens behind the Forest Information Centre (located on Jln Raja Chulan at the southwestern base of the hill), and you’re also likely to encounter the resident troupe of silvered leaf monkeys. Watching these animals as they swing between the branches and nonchalantly groom each other to a soundtrack of chirping insects and twittering birdsong, you’ll get a sense of what the area was like when the rainforest stretched as far as the eye could see.
Tun Abdul Razak Heritage Park
At the park’s heart, the Perdana Botanical Garden remains a showcase for local flora and fauna with sections dedicated to multiple varieties of hibiscus and orchid flowers. You’ll also find a small enclosure that’s home to mouse and spotted deer, a boating lake and a creatively designed kid’s playground.
Fanciers of feathered friends should fly straight to the park’s fabulous aviary, the KL Bird Park. Alongside ostriches, eagles, flamingos and parrots, you can also see a pair of rhinoceros hornbill, Malaysia’s national bird. One of them is often found hopping among the trees close by the balcony of the Hornbill Restaurant, a great spot for close-up photography.
Titiwangsa Lake Gardens
Forest Research Institute of Malaysia
FRIM is a justifiably popular location for casual strolls under the shade of soaring trees, as well as more strenuous hikes such as the one that ascends a steep hill to reach a 200m-long canopy walkway that hangs 30m above the forest floor. To calm your nerves as you traverse the swaying footbridges between the trees, keep your eyes peeled for birds and monkeys as well as the distinctive KL skyline in the distance.
The Quartz Ridge
Following a couple of fatal accidents on the trail in recent years, a hiking permit is required from the Selangor Tengah Forest Office, although in practice hardly any hikers arrange this. It is a good idea, however, to tackle the trail in the company of experienced guides or those who know what they are doing: if you go at the weekend – especially on a Sunday – you won’t be alone, as the hike is a highly popular form of exercise. Go early in the morning for the clearest views and the coolest temperatures. Further details about the hike can be found at Hiking at Bukit Tabur.
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