Once you’ve taken a look around the Supertree Grove and the surrounding gardens at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, head for the conservatories for something completely different. While the Flower Dome provides almost exactly what you might expect (it’s a gigantic greenhouse filled with plants and flowers), the neighbouring conservatory houses something exciting and unique. There aren’t many places in the world where you can experience tropical highland ecosystems for yourself (indeed, those that naturally occur are very much in decline), but the Cloud Forest is one such place and it’s right in the heart of the city centre.
Upon walking through multiple sets of doors, you’re immediately confronted by a 35 metre high mountain, off of which the world’s highest indoor waterfall cascades, sending up a shroud of mist. The aim of the Cloud Forest is to create perfect conditions for plants more used to being 2,000 metres above sea level to grow & prosper and to enlighten visitors of this often overlooked environment. The fact the mountain is completely covered with vegetation and that there were plenty of visitors on my visit suggests they may well have been successful.
Once you’ve found your way through the mist and admired the trees and totem poles, a lift takes you right to the top of the mountain. Up here, bromeliads, ferns and carnivorous pitcher plants reign supreme in the damp conditions. A series of elevated walkways guide you slowly back down to sea level. Some walkways take you back into the heart of the mountain, where crystals and ancient stalagmites are on show, while others lead you around the outside in dramatic fashion. Once you’ve reached the bottom, a fascinating, emotive and media-rich series of displays explain why and how global warming is causing the numbers of tropical rainforest ecosystems to dwindle and what effect this might have on the entire planet.
Singapore has many attractions you shouldn’t miss when you visit and this is one of them. The Cloud Forest isn’t just a greenhouse, it’s an extraordinary experience and one Singapore can be proud it created.