GEOPARK INSIDER TIPS
By Kamila Delart
Langkawians cherish a slow pace of life so you will barely ever encounter a speeding car or hear the impatient sound of a horn. Adapt this leisurely mode to enjoy the magnificent vistas along the roads and to make sure reptiles and baby monkeys that choose to cross over are safe.
To truly appreciate the breathtaking beauty of Langkawi, you have to explore the ten million years old rainforests! Best you join an experienced Nature Guide who is familiar with the hiding spots of sleeping colugos and fruit bats and who knows where to point at night a torch so that you spot a flying squirrel. Led to secluded places, you will be able to admire wild orchids, and learn about rare medicinal rainforest plants and other jungle secrets.
One of the most unique places is the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park with a river flanked by mesmerizing limestone formations that open into hidden lagoons and mysterious caves with stalagmites and stalactites. Branching off the main river stream is a myriad of secret waterways that wind through a dense mangrove forest. A feeding ground of juvenile fish, crabs, shrimps and oysters, a nesting territory for many birds and the habitat of various reptiles, the mangroves are a truly fascinating place! And a vulnerable eco-system that can be easily damaged…
So when embarking on your discovery journey, chose wisely. The most enchanting and environmentally friendly way to explore the side-channels is kayaking. If you decide to enjoy a ride along the main river stream, enquire about the availability of boats with four-stroke engines that are much quieter and cause far less emissions than a two-stroke motor boat. The greatest threat to our mangrove forest presents coastal erosion caused by speeding boats that attempt to show you within a short period of time as much as possible. With the leisurely pace of a longer tour, you will not only prevent harm to the mangroves, but truly experience the exquisite beauty and unique features of the Geoforest Park. Especially if you have a passionate Nature Guide on board!
One of the major attractions is Langkawi’s wildlife. Freely roaming across the island, they transform a simple car ride or a nature walk into a safari adventure! Just keep your eyes open and you will experience scenes you never thought possible: A Brahminy Kite nose-diving into the mangrove forest to reappear a few moments later above the tree tops with a lizard in his talons, a Dusky Leaf Monkey lovingly grooming her baby, Fiddler Crabs ecstatically waving with their single claws, hoping to charm the female… There is nothing more captivating than observing animals in the wild!
So resist the temptation to feed monkeys that like to gather around tourism spots, and don’t fall for the gimmicky eagle feeding in the mangroves. Staged and unnatural, the zoo-like experience is a mere echo of what you can witness in the wilderness! And while you may not be aware of it, you would be causing a lot of damage.
Used to a diet of leaves, shoots and crabs, the Long-Tailed Macaques are unable to digest processed food, so even though they will happily grab any treat you offer, it’s impairing their health. With no need to forage, they also spend more time on breeding, and the rapidly growing population throws off the delicate balance of nature!
The chicken skin and intestines fed to Brahminy Kites are loaded with hormones and antibiotics, compromising the immunity of the birds. Bereft of their natural instinct, the predators begin to neglect hunt, allowing the number of snakes and rodents to skyrocket. It only takes a seemingly innocent human intervention for the entire eco-system to collapse. And very little effort to make sure the scenario does not become a reality!
With perfectly maintained jungle treks, you can safely visit Langkawi’s waterfalls and a myriad of other breathtaking places also without a guide. If you do so, stay on trails, and walk lightly so you don’t frighten the animals. With a little patience, you will be able to spot more butterflies and bird species than in your entire life!
The way you travel makes a difference! Thank you for helping us sustain the pristine beauty of our island, making sure that twenty, thirty years from now, our children get to experience a place as mesmerizing as you today. We wish you unforgettable holidays and hope to welcome you next year again!