Our amazing Langkawi Mangrove Tour in Kilim Geoforest Park.
During our stay on Langkawi Island, Malaysia, we sought a responsible tour company to take us to the Kilim Geoforest Park for a mangrove tour and cave exploring. It was an amazing day out, and we were very impressed with our chosen company’s efforts to preserve Langkawi’s natural beauty and educate tourists about exploring with minimal impact. This is the account of our Mangrove Boat Trip with Dev’s Adventure Tours.
Kilim Geoforest Park
The Kilim Geoforest Park is one of three Geoforests on Pulau Langkawi, which itself was designated a Geopark by UNESCO in 2007. Kilim is reportedly the most successful ecotourism destination on Langkawi and features a wide variety of natural features including coastal karst, caves, pristine mangrove forests, flora and fauna, fossils, and the oldest carbonate rock in the region; formed 490-370 million years ago.
The Kilim Geoforest Park is located on the north-east of Langkawi island, and the Kilim River Tourist jetty is where all mangrove tours depart from.
Our Langkawi Mangrove Tour with Dev’s Adventure Tours
Dev’s are the only tour company we could find who are committed to responsible tourism in the Kilim Geoforest. We took a Mangrove Boat Trip with them and were amazed at how many other companies were doing the same thing. There were hundreds of tourists boarding boats as well as us, and realising that most of them were not focussed on exploring responsibly saddened me. But our tour was also full of people committed to a better experience for Langkawi, which was heartening.
Dev’s collected us from our accommodation in a minibus in the morning, and we waited for our fellow participants at the jetty. We met other travellers and our kids were fitted for lifejackets while we were waiting.
Our guide Khiri was a wealth of information and was obviously passionate about leaving no trace of our visit. He even kindly but firmly spoke to guests of other tour companies when we were in the Kelaware caves, as they hadn’t been informed about ways to minimise disruption to the bats overhead.
Khiri took us to the (Kelaware) bat cave first, and much to Dante and Allegra’s delight there were monkeys hanging around the entrance.
We had been warned to do our utmost not to disturb the bats, and despite the smell, we all enjoyed our short exploration. Khiri shone the torch to show them only when everyone was quiet and ready, and we didn’t stay for long in each cave to minimise our invasion of their sleeping quarters.
Khiri also spoke about some of the ancient rock formations when we were out of the bat’s area, including stalactites, stalagmites, and fossilized shells on the walls and roof.
We then explored along the beautiful mangrove forest for the river safari, and some keen eyes spotted viper snakes, kingfishers, monkeys, dingoes, butterflies, and a monitor lizard. We quietly stopped a few times to try and get photos of them but did not get too close or coax them in any way.
I didn’t manage to get many good pictures of the animals we spotted! But it was still great to see them. These are my best shots:
We then rode out on the open ocean, and under some rain clouds! We got soaked for about five minutes from a heavy downpour, which eased up just as we arrived at a small but beautiful secluded beach.
The little beach was picture-perfect with golden sand, clear water, and surrounding greenery. There was a rope swing but no other amenities, so we only stopped for about half an hour to play and swim in the lovely water.
It was the most beautiful beach we had found in Langkawi, which isn’t known for swimming much anymore. Dante, Allegra and I relished the soft sand and clear water, which was warm even though a few sprinkles of rain were still coming down.
It was also lovely just to explore the rugged beauty of the little beachfront; a reminder of what all of Langkawi must’ve once looked like.
Khiri collected some rubbish that washed up on the beach and told us later that it washes up every day from a huge garbage patch out at sea.
We accidentally left Dante’s sandals there and didn’t realise until much later. The boat driver offered to take Anthony back to the beach to collect them, and Ant saw that pile of floating trash on the return trip. He was amazed at how big it was, and how quickly it had come closer to shore.
A floating island of garbage closeby just doesn’t seem possible after enjoying such natural island beauty, but it’s always there, washing more trash onto the shore each day.
We could see Thailand in the distance as we departed the beach, which was a much nicer reminder of what we should be able to view from Pulau Langkawi.
Next was the eagle feeding area, which is the most controversial part of the tours. In a particular open area, many companies had started throwing kilos of chicken skin and scraps overboard to attract eagles for their guests to see.
So many tour guides did it over the years that the eagles stopped hunting, and their population decreased as their nutrient profile was altered so much that their eggs weren’t hatching. Snake populations also subsequently increased, as they had more eggs to eat.
Khiri explained this history to us and noted that Dev’s were one of a few companies responsible for educating the other guides about what was happening. Now, instead of each boat taking so much chicken with them, they only take a few hundred grams each. The eagles still hunt for food to supplement their diet, and their population is on the increase again.
Dev’s tours do not feed the eagles at all, but we did watch another tour boat doing it from afar. It’s a tricky situation as so many tourists expect the eagle feeding, so most of the tours want to give them the experience.
But I think that if the companies didn’t advertise it, tourists wouldn’t expect it and the eagles would stop relying on being fed, however small the amount.
After watching for awhile we headed to a floating restaurant for lunch, which was pre-booked and also popular with other tour companies. It was good food and they had some Western options for kids: most of which from our tour promptly fell asleep! Dante was the oldest and he stayed awake while the adults chatted and the little kids rested.
Within the floating restaurant compound, there was a fish farm and we had a look around it after lunch. (I didn’t seem to get pictures though, sorry!) Then it was back to the bus drop off, and back to our respective accommodations.
It was a great experience for all of us, as it gave us a well-rounded tour without feeling rushed or creating harm along the way. There was enough to look at and chat about to keep young kids engaged, and Khiri also had plenty of information to answer our questions and elaborate on any topic.
We left our tour tired but happy to have seen some wild animals and the raw natural beauty of Langkawi. I definitely recommend Dev’s who now have more tours available, including kayaking and hiking. I would’ve loved to go kayaking if it was an option when we were there, as we really enjoyed it from our eco-resort on Tioman Island.
Dev’s also no longer use plastic water bottles on any of their tours, which is fantastic for reducing their waste. From my understanding, all other tour companies still use plastic water bottles, as is the norm pretty much everywhere.
It is excellent to know that a company is committed to reducing waste, preserving ecosystems, and ensuring their island’s tourism is sustainable. Their professional and fun attitude and their ongoing commitment to improvement are admirable qualities for a tour company, especially in such a popular destination.
Please note that our guide Khiri is no longer working with Dev’s, but I am sure any of their other naturalist guides would also do a great job of educating and inspiring you along the way.
Contact Dev’s Adventure Tours through their website for costs, bookings and tour options.
And read about another ethical island adventure we’ve had, volunteering to help sea turtles with the Juara Turtle Project.
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