Mangroves, kayaking, local Malaysian cuisine, jungle swimming – this is our experience taking an eco-friendly tour in Malaysia’s beautiful island of Langkawi.
I recently did a post with a 7 day tourist itinerary in Langkawi and copped a bit of flack because the tour I went on was not eco-friendly. Before this, I hadn’t seen or heard of anything promoting eco-friendly tours in Langkawi and wasn’t aware this was an option.
A lovely lady named Sri from JungleWalla Tours reached out to me and invited me to experience one of their tours to get a different perspective on tourism the eco-friendly way.
Kayaking Adventure Tour
We decided to take the Kayaking Adventure Tour which went from 10:30am until around 2pm in the afternoon. The tour included kayaking in the mangroves, a delicious local lunch, and a jungle swim.
The tour was very good, and quite different to the other fast-paced tours we’d previously taken. We met at the Kubang Badak River at 10:30am for the first part of the tour – kayaking!
Here we met our tour guide for the day, Fuad. He was quite friendly and easy to talk to. In total, there was 8 of us taking the tour, my partner and I, and three other couples.
Fuad gave us all life jackets and helped us into our two-person kayaks. There was a boat following along at a distance carrying our other belongings. I suppose he was also there in case any of us fell in and needed help. But thankfully, that didn’t happen.
We kayaked through the water and stopped at various points while Fuad told us interesting things about the mangroves. I’ll include some of the things we learned at the bottom of this post, just in case you want to take the tour and don’t want to read the spoilers beforehand.
The water was very calm and the surroundings were quiet. The safety boat followed at such a distance that we hardly noticed him there at all. In fact, I often forgot he was there.
Fuad told us how mangrove trees survive next to salt water, how they drop their seeds, and about the vital role mangroves play in the ecosystem and protection of Langkawi. At the end of the kayaking part, we got to plant our own little mangrove tree. This is our baby mangrove tree, lovingly named Mannie.
If any of you take the tour, we’d appreciate an update on Mannie the Mangrove if you see him!
The kayaking portion lasted for about 90 minutes. It doesn’t sound like a long time, but while writing this, I’m realizing how sore my arms are today! I think I’m going to have to go kayaking a bit more. It’s good exercise. But don’t be put off by my muscle pain. I have tiny arms – if I can do it, anyone can!
When we were paddling back to the jetty, we saw an eagle flying above us. We even managed to take a good picture of him!
Next up, we drove to a home cooked lunch not very far away. I have to say, it was delicious. We had rice (of course), local fish, soy chicken, water spinach, eggplant, and orange juice. Yum yum!
After lunch, we drove a bit of a way to a private swimming spot. We got to walk through a jungle trail, which was nice and shady (thank you, trees).
And finally reached a nice little spot with clear water fresh water where we could have a refreshing dip.
Apparently this place used to be open to the public, but the public kept leaving rubbish behind. So, the resort has closed the swimming place off to the public for that reason, and now you can only visit with a guide.
Thoughts on the tour
We had a very good day. I liked that the tour was interactive and we got to learn interesting facts and ask questions about the mangroves and their crucial role in the ecosystem and safety of Langkawi.
I don’t know what the general group size is for these tours, but for us, the size was perfect. We could all hear what Fuad was telling us, and we didn’t feel too rushed or that we had to wait too long for other people. The pace was really ideal for everyone. And there was plenty of delicious food to go around at lunch time.
We were lucky enough to see an eagle at the jetty, even though there was no bird watching activities on our tour.
The only thing I would improve about this tour is to do a little more kayaking around the place and into the waterways between the mangroves, if that is allowed, as we both really enjoyed the kayaking part a lot.
Thank you to JungleWalla Tours, Fuad, the boat and van drivers, and the cooks for the lovely experience!
If you want to take the tour and hear about the mangroves for yourself, stop reading here. Otherwise, read on to find out some things I learned about mangroves on this trip.
Our guide told us many interesting things about the mangroves. But here’s a few that I managed to remember…
How mangroves survive with only salt water
Plants and trees need freshwater to survive, salt kills them. But mangroves can take in salt water and filter it inside them.
But what goes in must come out! The mangroves have to get rid of the salt somehow. So, how do they do it?
Apparently mangrove trees can get rid of the salt through their leaves. Our guide pointed out that many bunches of leaves had a yellow leaf, which he called the sacrificial leaf. These leaves take all of the salt and eventually die and fall off.
Mangrove roots are very special. They grow this way so that the trees can breathe around the water and thick mud underneath them.
They can also stick roots up to help them breathe, which is what all the dark things are around Mannie. One day, you’ll get some roots like that too, Mannie.
The mangrove roots are home to lots of fish. Our guide told us that the smaller fish swim further into the mangroves to keep them safe from the bigger fish.
And there’s another thing mangroves protect too – Langkawi!
Mangroves protected Langkawi against the 2004 tsunami
Our guide pointed out a shipwreck nearby in the mangroves. He told us that he was here during the 2004 tsunami that caused devastation around South East Asia. Langkawi was lucky because the mangroves saved them by breaking up the waves so that Langkawi didn’t take as much damage as some of the surrounding islands.
The locals went and cleaned up the mangroves because lots of boats and debris had been dumped there by the tsunami. But they left this shipwreck as a reminder of how important the mangroves are for Langkawi.
Since one main difference between the tours (and one thing that got everyone mad) was the animal feeding, I decided to do some research. I’m working on a post about the effects of feeding on monkeys and eagles in Langkawi. If you’re interested, watch this space. I’ll be posting it soon!
On that note, I’ll leave you with a picture of Egor the Eagle.
Until next time, peace and good times to you all!