Datai Dreaming

What’s a rainforest without some rain, right? So we packed our bags and headed to Langkawi, Malaysia during the off-season (early August). Our destination – the spectacular Datai Bay.

Rain in the rainforests of Datai Bay

Downpour at Datai beach – not a soul in sight! 

Located on the northwest corner of Langkawi island, Datai Bay is a crescent shaped, golden sand beach, backed by a 10 million year old rainforest. There are only 2 resorts at Datai Bay, one at each end of the beach.

The resident naturalists at The Datai (where we stayed) take guests on morning and evening walks to observe the local flora and fauna. And that by far, was the highlight of our trip!

The rainforests around Datai Bay are teeming with wildlife. Nearly 250 species of birds and over 500 species of butterflies. It is also home to the only flying primate in the world – the colugo or the flying monkey. Datai Bay is said to be the best place in the world to spot this evolutionary marvel.

And we were not disappointed! We spotted them sleeping during the day and gliding like little ninjas at night. We lost count of the number of colugos we spotted!

A colugo camouflaged against the tree bark

A colugo camouflaged against the tree bark

Wildlife friendly road signs

Wildlife friendly road signs

We watched in sheer delight as adorable dusky leaf monkeys made a meal out of tree tops, the gawky pied oriental hornbills raised a racket, cicadas and frogs gave shrill midnight performances; and the flying squirrels darted silently between trees at dusk – all during our daily strolls in the resort property.

A dusky leaf monkey in the midst of his meal

A dusky leaf monkey in the midst of his meal

One member of a family of Oriental Pied Hornbills right outside our beach villa

An Oriental Pied Hornbill right outside our beach villa

Whip snake - Datai Bay, Langkawi, Malaysia

A whip snake we spotted at the neighbouring resort

Unfortunately, the weather did play spoilsport and some of our outdoor activities were cancelled, including the trek to Gunung Matchincang, Malaysia’s oldest geological formation. This rock formation is believed to be the first part of Southeast Asia to rise from the seabed nearly 220 million years ago.

The rain brought out the stunning beauty of the jungle around us. We were happy just to stay indoors and watch as a blanket of mist and glorious green enveloped the resort.

One of the few occassions we dragged ourselves away from the warm, comforting waters of Datai Bay was to visit the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park. This mangrove forest forms part of the larger Langkawi Geopark, which is Southeast Asia’s first geopark recognised by UNESCO.

Endless mangrove forests in the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park

Endless mangrove forests in the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park

A cruise along this seemingly endless, mangrove forest provided many visual treats – the rich birdlife, a mangrove pit viper hidden in the thick foliage, interesting limestone formations, the eerie bat cave and of course, plenty of cheeky macaques. We even spotted a monkey swimming merrily after a crab (his lunch for the day!)

A white bellied sea eagle disappears into the mangrove forest

A white bellied sea eagle disappears into the mangrove forest

The spooky bat cave

The spooky bat cave

Our week at Datai Bay gave us a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with nature. We had made peace with all the critters around us, including the insects and the geckos. We were at home!

This is definitely not a place you visit just once. Jumpa lagi, Datai Bay! (See you soon, Datai Bay!)

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