Dipping its toes in the Kilim River at the north-eastern tip of Langkawi, the designated geoforest is a gallery of massive mangrove ecosystems and wildlife sanctuary that astounds with tranquil beauty and endemic biodiversity.
|The cluster of attractions at Kilim Geopark includes a network of caves, beaches, mangrove swamps and other ecological points of interest such as eagle feeding and fish farming.|
There are various tour packages available that can last between 1 to 4 hours. The short trips would be just a cruise along the site for a quick browse while longer excursions include stopovers at beaches and lunch at a fish farm.
Prices are usually charged according to per boat charter so it's really economical if you go in a group. There were 11 of us plus a guide and boatman onboard and it's still pretty comfortable.
|Jonathan all armed and ready with his camera. That's our boat waiting to be boarded at Kilim River jetty.|
|Hasni vogued a sultry look in anticipation of the seduction of nature while big smiles make its round.|
We went on a short 2-hour excursion which included a tour of Gua Kelawar, eagle watching, a photo stop at the Hollywood-ish Kilim Geoforest signboard, and ended with lunch on a floating fish farm.
Accessible only by boat, Gua Kelawar is a prehistoric playground of unusual stalactite and stalagmite formations amidst picturesque mangrove overgrowths. The site got its name from its most prominent residents, the kelawar (bat), living within one of the area's larger gua (cave).
|The Fiddler Crab is known as 招潮蟹 in Mandarin, which translates to tide calling crab. This Orange Fiddler looked like a crustaceous sumo!|
If a crab loses its big claw during a fight, the smaller claw will start packing on size as it is faster for the small claw to grow bigger than for the crab to grow a big claw out of nothing. That's why some male Fiddlers have big right claws while others have bigger left pinchers. I didn't know that. I thought big left claw means male, big right claw means female... 男左女右 mah. LOL
Our guide said that they are used in the popular Thai raw papaya salad (som tam) but I have my doubts. I thought the recipe calls for raw black ricefield crabs or blue flower crabs. Not these silent violinists. Then again, there could be many versions of the salad's ingredients and I haven't yet had my tastebuds fiddled with.
|Enrtance and interior of a minor cave at Gua Kelawar. The cave used to be submerged as pieces of seashells can be found stuck on its ceiling.|
Here's one tip about visiting Gua Kelawar... there are no toilets on site so clear all you need to at the Kilim River jetty before starting your tour. I had the misfortune of getting a tummyache during our excursion and its the kind that needs immediate release. It's not the kind that can be distracted or willed away. Imagine my agony!
|A part of the path had been closed. I wonder where it leads to.|
|Interesting growth of stalactites (from ceiling down) and stalagmites (from the ground up) that showed nature imitating nature. In the right photo is a stalactite that resembles a crocodile. Can you spot it?|
|Departing Gua Kelawar, we skimmed along stretches of mangrove coasts and lush limestone cliffs to reach a secluded lagoon where the feeding of eagles take place.|
It used to be that every boat that came would feed. Now, when one boat feeds, the others just watch. Eagles are territorial birds that don't usually gather in such close proximity with each other but the convenience of free food had brought them together. Kinda like how humans behave too.
So the island's name literally means an eagle perched on marble, a poetic tribute to these majestic birds and the archipelago's plenitude of limestone and marble formations.
|Another raptor commonly sighted at Langkawi is the White-Bellied Fish Eagle.|
|Must-have shot of the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park sign. It is inspired by a world famous sign that is synonymous with American movies. Can you guess it?|
|A hole in the wall. It was used as a hideout during olden nautical eras.|
|Hole in the Wall Restuarant which is a fish farm and where we'll be chomping down on fresh seafood.|
|Before our lunch, we fed Brenda to the stingrays. I'm kidding. Where got stingray like bak kut teh one? LOL. The mammoth rays are really friendly though and you can pet and feed them. But remove any ring or jewellry first.|
|Lunch was as flavourful as the our excursion of Kilim Karst Geoforest Park. My fav was the BBQ fish which was grilled to the right degree of char. And the belachan chili sauce was heaven on earth.|
If the word 'karst' draws a blank with you, let's shake hands. I thought it is a Malay word initially and Kilim Karst is the site's name. But I wondered why was the river called Kilim River and not Kilim Karst River?
So I googled and learnt that 'karst' is an English word used to describe a geological topography characterised by cardonate rocks such as limestone with ground level caverns carved by water. Well, from the photos above, they pretty much show what a karst is.
With its paleozoic geology and dramatic, almost vertical karstic limestone cliffs interweaved with secret caves, water channels and virgin mangroves, Kilim Karst Geoforest Park is truly lyrical on the senses!