Massification, a word that really terrify us and we try to avoid at all costs.
Langkawi, place that in some areas is known by the word above.
Truth? Half true. There are some touristy areas but after reading extensively about this beautiful archipelago, we realised we were visiting the only UNESCO Global Geopark in Malaysia and one of the only 133 in the world.
What is an UNESCO Global Geopark, you might be thinking? Well, they are single and unified areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a concept of protection, education and sustainable development.
Green light. We were convinced that it would be the perfect ecotourism hub to spend a good 2 weeks celebrating our joint birthdays.
Our first part of the journey was spent in a little, cosy and budget hotel in the middle of the island surrounded by nothing but palm trees and cows, which made it perfect for us to rent a motorbike and go out on an adventure every day. We done dozens of Km on our scooter and although it can be quite tiring, it was all worth it taking into account all the beauty that surrounds this gem of a place.
Here, there is one aspect we would love to highlight on this leg of the trip: JungleWalla Eco Tours. Going more into some trivia about the company, it was founded by Irshad Mobarak, the most devoted naturalist of the archipelago, appearing in National Geographic and Travel & Living Channel, TED TALKS, participant in scientific expeditions and the list goes on and on. So there was no doubt we wanted to go with them.
They offer several tours and we took 3 out of the 9. The groups are reduced and depending on the tour, food is included.
The first day, we did the Mangrove Kayaking. We have to admit this was our favourite activity as we are talking about the world’s rare mangrove on limestone bedrocks. Our guide, Fuad, was so nice and patient. He has a lot of knowledge about the mangrove and the flora & fauna, in, out and between the water that I as a biologist, appreciate a lot. But he also provided us with some interesting ‘non-scientific’ related facts that kept the group interested at all times: how long-tailed macaques have learnt to fish crabs using their tails as a rod or how they trick tourists by knocking on hotel rooms while other monkeys open the window. Impressive to say the least. During the kayaking the sounds are outstanding. Chirping of all kinds, macaques communicating, and if you listen carefully even interesting mangrove crabs running back to their “houses” when you pass by paddling.
After the kayaking we went through a jungle trail leading to a secluded natural swimming pool with an amazing fresh and crystalline water. Here you can splash into from the rocks or just have some wind down time after all the exercise.
Our second tour was to the Manchinchang Mountain, located in the oldest part of South East Asia, the SkyCar. This cable car is known by being the second steepest in the world and during 15 min approximately one can experience flying over jungle waterfalls and a thick layer of virgin unexplored rainforest. What most people do is going from the bottom station- middle station for a 360 degrees’ panorama view and to the top station for crossing the bridge. What we did was a hike (Skytrail) from the middle station to the bridge and from here a cable car to the top, as we like more Nature and away from people.
During this hike in the sandstone forest and birthplace of South East Asia, we saw a lot of interesting medical plants, the biggest leaf in the world, cheeky macaques looking after their babies and even breeding, Dusky leaf monkeys, different species of colorful birds, etc. Totally worth it.
To finish off, the Birdwatching morning session was so fascinating. We were only 4 persons. Fendi, our guide was amazing. He is a bird’s expert and really passionate about his job. He provided us with so much insight about the species we saw: Collared kingfisher, Black-crowned night heron, Chinese pond heron, Little egrets and Brown-winged kingfisher, the real star of Langkawi and classified as Near Threaten (NT) by the UICN Red List * , a bird fairly common in Malaysia but whose distribution is related to the Western islands only. *Note: for those conservationists and/or Nature lovers please refer to this website for tons of info about species and their status.
My favorite bird? I am not going to lie. The Brown-winged kingfisher. Overall for delighting us with one of the best things he can do: fishing!
Back in our room, resting in bed and munching on a carrot, I started to think how much I need this time out of buzzing cities and noisy cars, and how Langkawi was being more than perfect for this.
I promise, I was there.