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Mangrove roots
Tunnel to Gua Buaya
Yacht anchored at Sungai Kilim
'Belangkas' ( Horseshoe crab)
'Siput Rimau' (Nautilus)
Eagles in feeding frenzy at Sungai Kilim
The narrow waterway at Sungai Kilim
Boat ride to Gua Buaya

There are several mangrove tour destinations in Langkawi. One of the most popular is the SungaiSungai Kilim Mangrove Tour Kilim Mangrove with its purpose-built jetty, footstalls, convenient wooden walkways and a host of wildlife attractions to keep you gawking as much as the eagles are doing likewise to you. You can drive or be driven to this place within minutes from Kuah town. Or you can take a 90-minute coast-hugging boat ride from that urban centre..

Located on the north-eastern section of the main island of Pulau Langkawi, the Sungai Kilim Mangrove sanctuary is mostly made up of limestone of the Setul (Thai) Formation that research claim to hail back in excess of 400 million years - that's way back into the Ordovician-Silurian era in prehistoric terminology). The area is still pristine with rich ecological treasures. Watching the macaque monkeys on the banks of Sungai Kilim

From the jetty you can look across to the opposite side of the river where macaque monkeys sit coyly awaiting kind visitors to throw them foodstuff, although this is not really encouraged. Boats can be shared or chartered for more privacy. Get your tickets from the counters at the jetty. 

The Gua Kelawar (Bat Cave) is also located here. You can take the wooden walkway for a 10 minutes walk before reaching the cave entrance. Gua Kelawar comprises two cave systems - the smaller western chamber that extends northeast by southwest, has a floor area of approximately 270 square metres and low roof of between one to three metres head clearance. On the walls and roof of the cave you can see embedded very old seashells. This provides proof that theEagles scrambling for the handouts area was originally the sandy bottom of an ancient river that has been shoved upwards by powerful tectonic force millions of years ago. Another reason is that the sea level about 5,000 years ago was two metres higher than today.

The second cave is bigger, covering a total area of 750 square metres and a much higher roof (about 10 metres). This cave is actually a tunnel of approximately 60 metres long, with north and south openings. Its main denizens are thousands of fruit bats, hence the name.  The wooden walkway runs right through the cave, allowing visitors convenient access.  You will need a powerful torchlight to view the dark interior with its beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. The best time to visit is in the early morning or late evening when the angle of light brings out the bestPetting a stingray in one of the cages at Kilim - part of the tour, maybe... colours and dimension to the environs.

Respect the mangroves. Please do not litter. Learn from the role they have played in helping to diffuse the shadow waves that rolled to Malaysia's shores during the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami.

Langkawi residents, boat operators and fishermen as well as informed nature lovers realise the importance of these brackish mangroves, which protect the coastline from erosion and provide a suitable nurturing area for the rich marine life within the Kilim estuary.

Being responsible citizens, the boat operators of Kilim get together regularly to help maintain and clean up the area which sustains their livelihood. They also help in mangrove replanting. You can observe the mangrove seedlings protruding from the mud. The Sungai Kilim Mangrove Tour Jetty

Approaching the open sea at the mouth of the river, you watch lots of wildlife indigenous to the area. Observe the white-bellied sea eagles, brahminy kites, kingfishers, monitor lizards, memerang (small-clawed otters) and, if you are lucky, even dolphins that come close to frolic among the tour boats.

Although I would not condone this practice, I must say that the eagle-feeding sessions are the most sought-after component of the mangrove tour packages.  Watch these agile raptors swoop low to catch the handout of chicken entrails that the boat operators bring with them for this purpose. It is also fun to watch the tourists scrambling to the left and right side of the boats trying to capture on camera the exact moment when these eagles grab the chicken guts from the surface of the water with their talons. Nifty manoeuvres for the eagles but dangerous for the helplessly rolling boat load of tourists!

After eagle feeding the boats would normally motor downstream towards the Andaman Sea on the northern coast of Langkawi. The Sungai Kilim exit passes the popular Hole-in-the-Wall Seafood Restaurant.

Click here for another mangrove tour.

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