From Penang we took a ferry to another Malaysian island, Langkawi. It is a real tropical paradise; golden sands, warm seas and swaying palms. Plus the interior of the island is dense jungle packed with wildlife.
For the first time on our trip we hired a car and explored the island. We started off at the Sky Bridge. It takes two cable cars to get up there and the views over the island are fantastic. You can see birds of prey wheeling at eye level.
After that we hiked to the Seven Wells waterfalls, where I took a dip.
We had been planning to do a guided wildlife trek in Langkawi, but we managed to see so many animals just hiking about by ourselves that we wondered if it would be worthwhile. We’d already spotted.
We decided to do the guided trek anyway and we are so glad that we did, although it was not what we expected at all. Most of the trek went through a hotel resort complex. What wildlife could we expect to spot there? As it turned out – loads. Before we’d even started the trek, the guide waved us over to show us something that he had spotted on his way in. A young buzzard had caught a lizard almost as big as itself. It couldn’t carry it away, so it was crouched in the undergrowth right by the hotel entrance, pinning its prey to the ground and waiting for it to stop struggling.
Once we’d started the proper trek, the first thing the guide showed us was a tree with some lumps protruding from its trunk. On closer inspection, the lumps turned out to be sleeping flying lemurs, but they were so well camouflaged that you would never have spotted them if you didn’t know what to look for. The lemurs would start getting active around dusk, so we would come back there later.
We also saw a giant squirrel, which we’d also seen in Laos and India, but we got a closer view this time, more dusky leaf monkeys and ubiquitous macaques.
Then we went into the jungle and our guide explained a bt about the types of trees. He showed us some huge termite mounds and told us that the locals can predict the weather by the termites. A few days before the rainy season starts the Queen termite produces a generation of winged termites who will leave the nest to set up elsewhere. If you see flying termites it means that rain is on its way.
Further into the jungle I spotted a small lizard on a tree. Just as I pointed it out, another lizard flew in to join it. These were cool gliding lizards and our guide was beside himself to get such a good view of them. He started telling us that the male can puff out his throat during courting, something that he’d never seen in the wild, only in documentaries. Right on cue, the male started puffing out the sides of his throat to show bright red patterns on either side.
Just before we left the forest, we came across a termite mound that appeared to be frothing. There were hundreds of termites scurrying over it and hundreds more flying out. So rain might be on the way.
Back on the hotel complex we sat watching the sleeping lemur tree, waiting for the sun to go down. The change from day shift to night shift is a very active time and we hardly knew where to look. The monkeys were going to bed, the bats were coming out and the lemurs were starting to wake up. As they began to move about, we could see that two or three had cute little babies clinging to their bellies. When they fly, they spread out their limbs and gliding membrane so they look like big pancakes gliding through the air.
We didn’t expect to see this much wildlife before we got to Borneo. We came to Langkawi for the beaches really, so this was a real bonus. Speaking of beaches, we got plenty of beach time as well.
More pictures of Langkawi are on Mr Beet’s flickr page, and in case you were wondering, the termites got it right. Later that night, we were woken up by thunder and torrential rain.