Escaping the concrete jungle doesn’t necessarily mean you have to travel far, and you can actually find Mother Nature residing within the city limits! If you’re living in Kuala Lumpur and looking to spend your weekend in the glory of nature, there are at least 16 national parks and forest reserves in Selangor and the Federal Territories to choose from. The Forest Research Institute Malaysia, often referred to as FRIM, is one of them and is a beautifully nurtured forest and park for that quick escape.
A short drive from areas like Damansara Perdana, Bandar Utama, and Taman Tun, the Forest Science Park is conveniently located in Kepong and offers parking on site. Going earlier in the morning is recommended, especially for certain activities like their Canopy Walkway.
For our car the entrance fee is a mere RM5, which was paid at the main entrance’s guardhouse. Entrance to the canopy walkway is a separate fee of RM5 for a Malaysian citizen, and RM10 for a non-citizen. These minimal fees pay for the upkeep of this beautiful place, and you get enjoyment and the sense of wonder in return.
Originally stripped of its natural forest, the area that is now FRIM was once used for agriculture and mining. In 1925, the approval to establish a forest research institute (FRI) was given by the Regent of Selangor, and slowly, a forest nursery and plantation took root. Tropical colonial buildings were built and used for research and administration purposes, and can still be seen dotted around FRIM’s compound. The research museum gallery is one of them!
Flourishing on 600 hectares of land, FRIM boasts arboreta (areas of cultivated “woody” plants) holding 1349 species in their ex-situ collection (off-site conservation), and 2276 species in-situ (species found on FRIM grounds and forested areas). A variety of other life forms, the likes of insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and mammals, call this place home.
The canopy walkway is just one of the many activities you can partake in at FRIM. Walk-in tickets for the canopy walkway can be purchased at the FRIM One Stop Centre (souvenir shop), which is located in Zone D. Tickets can also be pre-booked. The walk from the FRIM One Stop Centre to the canopy walkway is a fairly quick and easy one, and this is coming from a couch potato.
The canopy part is a little shorter than I expected, with about 5 bridges (totalling 150 meters) spanning from one tree to another. Suspending me about 30 meters above the ground, it was a little scary at first, especially to look down! The lush surrounding greenery distracts from the wobble and sway of the bridge, though I did get slightly motion sick towards the end.
We unwittingly took the long way back to where we were parked, but it was a lovely walk nonetheless. Like babies seeing the world for the first time, we gawked at fallen trees and moss making its way along the bark, the beautiful patterns of different leaves, and eucalyptus tree-trunk patterns. Passing camp sites and cyclists showcased the abundance of other activities made available at FRIM.
Visitors can choose to enjoy their day in the form of hiking and jungle trekking, camping, picnicking, mountain biking, or plain ol’ jogging. Please keep in mind that there are certain area restrictions, depending on the activity you would like to do.
Do check their website or the Department of Environment for the Air Pollution Index (API) before heading to FRIM though, as they sometimes close the canopy walkway when the API reading is above 150. Operating hours are also subject to weather conditions.
They also have an interesting compendium of facts and figures, last published in 2013. Do have a look, especially if you’re interested in finding out exactly which species can be found at FRIM.
Enjoy your weekend, wanderers!