Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Langkawi Island - Mangrove Tour (Part I)

On the last day of our trip to Langkawi, we thought that it would be a good experience to go on a tour of the Kilim River mangrove. The tour would allow us to explore the Kilim River ecosystem by boat, with stops at the Bat Cave, Fish Farm as well as witness some Eagle Feeding. There are many tour companies around Langkawi offering such packages, with prices ranging from about RM80 til up to RM200 per person! We know that all the tours cover the same things and they start from the same place. So, the cheapest way to go about this is to go to the source, the Kilim River Jetty itself. This way, you can eliminate all the middle men and deal directly with the boat operators.
Getting to the Kilim Jetty is pretty simple. From Kuah town, just head towards Galeria Perdana. Once you pass Galeria Perdana, keep a look out for small signs saying 'Kilim Jetty' or 'Kilim Geopark'. Once you see the sign, turn into that small road and it will lead you to the jetty. There are ample parking spaces in front of the jetty. The best time to go would be either early in the morning or late in the evening. We were told that that's the best time to spot wildlife and of course, it won't be that hot.
The price is pretty much fixed (so don't bother trying to bargain), RM150 per boat for a 1 hour tour which includes stops at the Bat Cave, Fish Farm and Eagle Feeding. You can fit up to 8 people per boat, so if you have a small party, you should just hang around and try to share a boat with other tourist. Since there are 5 of us, we just decided to get one whole boat to ourselves. Only RM30 per person, not too bad at all.
After paying the boat operator, we were off! It was pretty interesting to navigate through the twist and turns of the mangrove, with tall trees and abundent wildlife. We saw some kingfishers while we were there and if you are lucky, you would be able to spot a few monkeys as well. After a short 10 minute ride, we saw the pier of the Bat Cave ahead of us.
The Bat Cave actually consist of two caves. The smaller cave is only approx 270 square meters, with a low roof and the bigger cave is about 750 square meters, with a 10m high roof and is about 60m long. As the name suggest, the Bat Cave is home to four different species of fruit and insectivorous bats. Unknown to many, Malaysia has a high species diversity of bats, with 117 different species (20 species of fruit bats and 97 species of insect bats). One would also be able to have a breathtaking view of many stalactites and stalagmites formations in the caves.
The entrance to the cave is just a short walk from the pier. There is a wooden platform that runs throughout the entire length of the cave, so it's pretty safe and you can stay dry at all times. However, it can be quite dark inside, especially on cloudy days. So, it would be wise to bring along a powerful flashlight to fully enjoy the experience. You can rent a flashlight at the pier for RM1 before you head out to the caves.
Check out the magnificent stalactites and stalagmites formations! Initially when we first entered the cave, we didn't want to use any flash photography, because we didn't want to disturb the bats. Therefore, we couldn't really get very good photos. Most of them turned out all green and grainy, like the photo above. We also commented that there were not many bats around, maybe because it was too dark and we couldn't really see them. After a while, I realized that everybody else was using flash photography, so I decided to join them. Check out this pic!
YESSSSS....those are alll bats!!! OMG! I was totally grossed out when I saw that photo on my camera view finder. Thousands and thousands of bats, all hanging above us. Now I was pretty glad that we were in semi darkness. If not, I wouldn't even want to go into the cave! I knew that my mom and Ashley were really freaked out, just by being in the cave. So, I didn't show any of them the photo until after we were out of the cave and out in the bright sunlight. Ewwwww...so gross.
Here is another one. Look at how terrified Ashley looked, and that was even before they knew there were so many bats hanging above them. At certain parts of the cave, the ceiling was really low and I bet, the bats were just mere inches above our heads. Sooo gross! Thinking of it now still makes my spine tingle! :P

Ahhhh he looks relieved to be getting out of the cave and out in the sun! I would say that as much as it was gross, it was a pretty good experience. Now it's time for us to hop back into the boat and head out to the Fish Farm. Stay tune...all that and more in the next post.

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