As the sun sets over the Singapore skyline, the creatures of the night wake up. Lurking, creeping, and stalking the country’s nature reserves by artificial moonlight are a host of nocturnal animals for you to enjoy. The Safari is made possible by special lights designed to mimic the moon. The lights are actually quite a bit brighter than a real full moon, but are not bright enough that they disturb the activity of the animals.
The Night Safari in Singapore is one of the coolest animal experiences that side of the Pacific. Opened in 1994, it was the first nocturnal zoo in the world, occupying 86 acres of rainforest and containing over 2,500 kinds of animals representing 130 species. From hyenas to African servals, and elephants to wallabies, the Safari showcases animals from seven different geographical regions. Whether you prefer cute or creepy creatures, there is something swinging through the treetops or snuffling on the ground that will fascinate you.
Exploring the Night
There are two main ways to enjoy the Night Safari, and a combination of both is highly recommended. First, you can take the tram. This 40-minute excursion whisks you through different ecosystems – from the Himalayan foothills to the Indian subcontinent to Equatorial Africa and beyond. Listen for the animal calls and keep your eyes peeled for barasingha deer, tapir, Asian elephants, tigers, and more.
The second and more personal adventure is to follow the walking trails through the forest. Each winding road offers contact with different genres. The Leopard Trail, for instance, is one of the more popular, as it is home to the biggest collection of southeast Asian wildlife and big cats. The Fishing Cat Trail allows you to view animals native to Singapore with the highlight being the adorable and highly endangered pangolin. The River Lodge is a crossroads of the African savannah and Asia with a host of tigers, red river hogs, and servals – a perfect addition to your #catsofinstagram collection. Lastly, the new Wallaby Trail highlights the nocturnal life of the Australian Outback where you can tour Naracoorte Cave and catch glimpses of all sorts of creepy crawlies.
Allocate enough time to walk the trails, but be sure to include the Creatures of the Night Show in your schedule. This twenty minute interactive performance brings out a whole host of animals to showcase their natural talents. Watch the adorable otters as they recycle, African servals as they leap for prey, and see the hyenas scarf down their food. Consider attending one of the earlier viewings as the line can get long.
The other popular act brings light to the night. The Thrumbuakar Performance is a fascinating fire show sparked with rhythm and energy. Watch as they perform awe-inspiring feats, cultural dances, and eat fire. You can volunteer to be a part of the show and groove with the pyro-warriors. The shows occur every hour on the hour, weather permitting.
Since you may want to spend a lot of time at the Safari, there’s no shortage of drinking and dining options available. The Ulu Ulu Safari Restaurant in the Village is known for it's local dishes such as chicken tandoori, biryani rice and chili crab. They even have open-air seating where a symphony of cicadas and other night creatures can accompany your meal.
For more Western fare, be sure to visit Bongo Burgers on the hour, as this is one of two locations you can watch the fiery Thrumbuakar performance. Close by is the Chang Chawang Bar, a lively setting to start or end the night. The name comes from “Chawang,” the name of the Night Safari’s Asian bull elephant, and Chang Beer, brewed by ThaiBev, the company responsible for many of the conservation efforts in Singapore. The bar offer a variety of cocktails and spirits so sit back with your Singapore Sling and enjoy the fire dancers just a few paces away.