Old, old, old
Considered by many as the birthplace of Malaysia, Langkawi’s 99 islands are home to a particular set of geological formations that encompass the UNESCO-protected Langkawi Geopark. While most may envision something like a rock climbing wall when trying to conjure that moniker, this particular geopark comes with some serious bragging rights: three parks, geological monuments, and protected geosites within permanent forest reserves.
The more than 90 documented areas of geological diversity within the archipelago are grouped together to form three separate “Geoforest Parks”. Here is a location breakdown to help you make the most of your Langkawi Geopark sightseeing experience, with a few of the more popular hotspots.
The focal point of the Mat Cincang Cambrian Geoforest Park is Mat Cincang itself. The 550 million year old mountain is the home of the Oriental Village and Cable Car. The Cable Car is a 700-metre long, ear-popping ride to the mountaintop where a 360-degree view of the archipelago awaits. Just up the road to the east is the top of Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls. The seven pools that make up the waterfall are surrounded by spectacular geological formations as well as dense rainforest. It’s also a popular hangout for cheeky monkeys.
To the north, Teluk Datai (Datai Bay) is home to Pantai Pasir Tengkorak (Skull Sand Beach). The macabre name derives from local legends and folklore. Luckily, you won’t find skulls here –just a secluded beach with pristine sand. For geology buffs, the area is filled with sedimentary rock formations that formed during the Cambrian period.
Just to the west and across from Pantai Pebble (Pebble Beach) is the three-tiered Temurun Waterfalls. A relatively easy stairway climb takes you to various wading pools of Langkawi’s tallest waterfall. Word to the wise: Don’t feed the monkeys. They bite.
The 100-square-kilometre Kilim Karst Geopark Forest is known for the Kilim River mangroves. Only accessible by boat or kayak from the Kilim river jetty, guided mangrove tours are a superb introduction to the delicate ecosystem of the mangroves. Tours are available both by boat and by kayak, with the latter a superior experience, though more costly too. There is plenty of flora and fauna to wow as well spectacular limestone formations.
Most mangrove tours include a stop at Gua Kelawar (Bat Cave), which is accessible only by boat. The limestone cave, with its massive hanging stalactites and protruding stalagmites, has a special beauty worth the visit. You’ll also have an opportunity to get up close and personal with the cave inhabitants while they snooze.
The Gua Cerita (The Cave of Legends) is aptly named due to the many folktales associated the double-decker limestone cave. While imagination has fuelled interest in the cave, some inscriptions are visible on the walls of the lower cave and are believed to have been written in the year 1754 during the reign of Sultan Mohamed Jiwa II of Kedah. A private boat tour of this cave can be arranged at the Kilim river jetty.
Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park is home of fresh-water Tasik Dayang Bunting (Lake of the Pregnant Maiden). Named for the surrounding hills’ likeness to a reclined pregnant woman, the lake is known for its rumoured fertility-enhancing properties. A lengthy stairway to the lake is well worth the effort traversing as the surrounding greenery and rock formations are stunning. There are a few snack vendors and paddleboats and canoes for rent.
Nearby Pulau Tuba is a step back in time. Fishing and farming continue as viable livelihoods and a few locals have cashed in on the homestay thing. Expect a hefty dose of local culture with your inexpensive accommodation. The 15-minute boat ride to the island is less than 10 ringgit and departs regularly from the Pekan Rabu jetty in Kuah.
For those who would like more detailed information about the geology of Langkawi’s Geopark, the UKM Langkawi Research Centre in Pantai Kok has informative displays as well as books for sale. The information centre at Oriental Village also has information available to the public.
A short contract job in a (Singapore) hospital initially landed Vanessa in Southeast Asia, where she decided to take a break from her medical career for more creative endeavours. She is presently basing herself in Langkawi, Malaysia from where she continues her exploration of Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and other destinations on her bucket list.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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