Tourists in Singapore: Visiting the River Safari!

Hey everyone!

Earlier in 2020, we had an opportunity to go to the relatively new river-themed zoo and aquarium in the Mandai area in Singapore… the River Safari! It is one of the “newer” themed zoos in Singapore, having opened in 2013; for context, the Singapore Zoo was opened in 1973 (wow, that’s a long while ago!) and the Night Safari was opened in 1994. Further, due to the Covid-19 situation (and reduced footfall), the River Safari had a fantastic 1-for-1 promotion at the time we visited; it was an opportunity to visit this tourist attraction for the first time ever! And in case you are wondering, the featured photo for this entry… features a capybara!

The River Safari is a 12-hectare river-themed zoo, featuring many land and water-based creatures! It is divided into different zones, with each zone highlighting the various animals and sea creatures unique to a particular era or territory (such as the Amazon, the River Nile, the Mississippi). It’s a family-friendly attraction with loads of events and performances, and we did see people of all ages walking about, taking the chance to spend a weekend in relative peace and quiet than was normally the case.

This time, we did not opt to use a digital camera, instead relying on our trusty analog  and instant cameras! We had used a 35 mm film camera and will feature some of the shots here; otherwise, our instant camera was the Polaroid Spectra Imagepro. It had been a while since we last used the Spectra film, and with Polaroid Originals stopping production of the film since October 2019, it had been a treasured film of ours (despite the reported difficulties with it). As such, we were keen to use it at a location which is equally unique!

First, we recently acquired a Leica M6 TTL, and shot it with the Kodak Portra 400! We’ll have our thoughts on this beautiful camera soon, so enjoy the photos!

A visitor walking through the shark tunnel at River Safari! Another location (which has since closed down) which features the same type of tunnel is the former Underwater World at Sentosa (we previously documented our last trip there!)
We sat down for an animal performance, (“Once Upon a River”), featuring creatures found near rivers. The capybara (pictured here) was one of such animals that we were allowed to come close to and even touch!
We were also permitted a short boat ride around Upper Seletar Reservoir. It was a slow but calming cruise along the waters.
Such beautiful clouds! We’re guessing they’re stratocumulus clouds, which is distinct for its cotton-like appearance.
We also met a bunch of pelicans, perched on a log and looking very comfortable!

On to the Polaroid Spectra film, in B&W and color; to be honest, the B&W shots were super dark, possibly due to production defects. As such, the B&W photos here are brightened post-scan:

We shot this while on the Amazon River Quest, a winding stream wherein we sat in a boat and encountered all sorts of animals! Ahead, we saw the capuchins climbing about the trees.
We tried to catch some tapirs, mammals native to Southeast Asia, lounging in the shade from the hot sun; however it was somehow too dark (for the Spectra film).
We also managed to catch the jaguars in action, resting in an enclosure.
The River Safari is located beside the Upper Seletar Reservoir, and remains an untouched area not easily accessible (apart from visitors at the safari).
A hut located alongside a shallow pool.

Eventually we switched to Spectra colour film, which fared much better despite the hot and humid weather:

The ferry docked at the jetty.
One of the final highlights of the day at the River Safari included a show “Once Upon a River”, featuring interesting creatures. Here, the giant pelicans was quite a sight, gobbling up fish provided from its caretakers.
Lazy panda! Or rather, the only pandas in Singapore, loaned by China and living comfortably in a sheltered dome in the River Safari.
We also spotted the elusive red pandas, ambling along with swiftness on the branches and logs. They seemed quite intelligent, hiding from cameras and smartphones being pointed at them.
Finally, the capybara! We even got up close and patted it, surprised at its coarse prickly fur.

All in all, we had such a good time; had we known there would be a global pandemic/lockdown in the next few months, we probably would have stayed there till it was closing time! The Spectra B&W film was quite disappointing, and we have had encountered the same issue with different B&W film packs. Since the Spectra film is no longer in production, we can only hope that our own stash of Spectra film will stay consistent for as long as possible.

We hope that our readers are safe and staying healthy in this difficult time. How are you taking photos during this lockdown/quarantine period? Do let us know!

Till next time,



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