Kayaking in Mangroves at Langkawi Island – A Langkawi Tour Review
Have you ever visited a mangrove forest?
They are fascinating ecosystem to explore.
Mangrove trees thrive in brackish water along seashores close to the mouths of rivers and inland along those rivers. The mangroves’ root systems, which are exposed-to-the-air, create a dense maze both under water and above, which makes a fantastic home for all sorts of creatures. Fish, lizards, snakes, frogs, turtles, crocodiles and alligators, insects, marine creatures and small mammals all make their homes in mangrove forests.
Kayaking is an amazing way to explore mangroves. Paddling along without engines, you get to listen the sounds of the forest and water. You also have a much better chance of spotting animals.
Since mangrove trees are so densely packed together and their branches lie so low to the water, the only way to access their narrower channels is by canoe or kayak. There you get to explore the really thick, little-visited areas of forest. Finally, you get some exercise, which is always a good thing.
I’ve been kicking around SE Asia since 1998, exploring national parks, jungles, mountains and forests quite extensively. So I have previously visited mangrove forests. But I’ve made all those trips by powered boats. Until recently, I had never paddled a mangrove forest.
So when I got the chance on Langkawi Island to kayak through its GeoHeritage park with Dev’s Adventure Tours, I was really excited. I eagerly signed up for their tour scheduled the following morning.
The guide picked me up by company van at my hotel. I was joining a couple who were already seated inside, so off we went across Langkawi island to the Kilim River to begin our adventures.
The tour essentially consisted of two parts. First we boarded a motorized boat out along the wider river channels where we visited a massive cave full of bats and a ‘fish farm’ located on a wooden platform built over the river. We walked through the bat cave on wooden platforms and could easily see dozens of bats sleeping on the cave walls.
The ‘fsih farm’ proved to be more interesting than I’d expected. Basically, they had impounded several species of river fish, each in their own river tank. I’d call it more of a ‘fish zoo’ than a farm. Visitors walk around the platform and peer into the various tanks. Staff come along and feed the fish so that they rise up to the surface where visitors can see them.
As a veteran dive instructor, I already could identify all the fish. But one creature caught my interest. I’d seen rays before, of course, but I’d never seen them feeding. Wow! The staff guy was so accustomed to feeding the rays that he could practically put his whole hand in the ray’s mouth. Mr. Ray had no teeth, feeding more like a vacuum cleaner, sucking in the food. It was pretty spectacular.
The tour also included lunch at the platform restaurant. We dined on tasty Thai soup, fried rice and a choice of drinks.
Finally we got underway kayaking.
Kayaking through the densely-packed forest, dodging branches and roots, looking for creatures, and learning about the forest from our guide was all very interesting. We spotted two dangerous snakes hanging low on branches and watched about one dozen eagles fly over a wider river channel.
However, we stopped an awful lot. And sat and chatted an awful lot. Personally I would have much preferred to do a lot more paddling and a lot less stopping and chatting.
We did have one special, fun surprise at the very end of our tour. We were each handed a large mangrove seed pod. Our boat stopped alongside the river where we each planted our mangrove tree! A nice touch of ecological sustainability added to the tour.
I discovered that the tour is especially well-geared to visitors who aren’t particularly athletic, who aren’t expecting a good work-out, and who mainly want to learn about the mangrove eco-system.
I spoke with the owner about potential offering two different kayaking tours, a more athletic one and their current leisurely, educational one. If they get enough requests, they’ll definitely consider adding a more challenging route.
Meanwhile, bear in mind when booking your kayaking tour that it’s not a strenuous athletic work-out but a very leisurely, educational glide through the mangrove forest. Good fun, relaxing and educational.
If this sounds like the tour for you, get full details and/or sign up at Dev’s Adventure Tours- Eco Tours Information
You might also be interested in my review of Dev’s Adventure Tours Malaysian Cultural Tour, which I highly recommend.