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Great Hornbill in LangkawiGreat Hornbill in Langkawi

It has been a long quest, from the rain forest of Borneo to the oldest forest of the world in Malaysia, but eventually I've made it!

I managed to spot 5 exemplars of Great Hornbills on top of a tree just a few meters away from me, in Langkawi Island. While the island is still covered in jungle, it is not pristine as other national parks, so I wasn't expecting it to happen here. But when hope was starting to fade out, eventually this huge mythological bird showed up!

And once in a while I have to be proud of myself and in particular of my persistence. Because of the very bad haze, all outdoor activities were forbidden for 2 days by the Malaysian authorities, so that all of our plans had to change.

Despite this I decided to climb the highest peak of the island (Not a big deal at 880 meters) on my own, Oti wanted to stay home, she didn't feel like inhaling the harmful gases to have no visibility and view whatsoever.

After hitchhiking to the start of the trail, I started to climb the 4200 steps to the top. It took me 1 hour 20 minutes instead of the 2 hours 15 minutes suggested, despite I had to do 5 stops and I took it easy. I climbed with my Totobobo mask to filter the pollutant, but it's not the easiest task to hike with an anti-pollution mask, since the body needs more oxygen, while the mask is limiting its intake. So I had to slow down and take regular stops to breath more deeply.

It was 94% umidity, and my T-shirt at the top was totally soaked in sweat, as if I would deep it into water.

Davide totally sweat and unrecognizable after climbing 4200 stepsDavide totally sweat and unrecognizable after climbing 4200 steps

The way to the top was quite disappointing, in the sense that I didn't spot anything, and I found haze+fog to wait for me at the top.

After 10 minutes rest I soon go down, and I have to fight with an annoying stray dog that starts barking at me. I take stick and stones just in case, and start walking. At the same time I hear the call of the Hornbill from a tree nearby, I raise my head, and here it is just in front of me! The dog still barking at me, I take one photo and check back for the dog, another photo and still looking my back, until the Hornbill flies away, and actually I find out they were 2! It was kind of strange that after the effort in the hike I managed to see it on the car paved road on top! When they fly, they are so big (up to 1.3 meters wing to wing) that they make a very audible sound like of strong wind.

Great Hornbill chewing wood?Great Hornbill chewing wood?

Now I correlate this same sound to our hike in Taman Negara. That means that also there we were extremely close to the great hornbill, but we didn't manage to see it.
On my way to stairs going downstairs, I spot other 3 great Hornbills, before a Spectacle monkey try to jump on one of them, making them running away.
Extremely satisfied I star my way down on an easy pace because of the slippery surface and the recent rain, and in about 55 minutes I'm at the bottom.
What a great memory, the Great Hornbill made my day!

Davide VadalàDavide Vadalà
In 2009 I quit my job to chase my dream of exploring our planet in a sustainable way and I haven't stopped yet. I love nature, sustainability, travel photography, handicrafts and hiking, and I never stop dreaming. More about Davide Vadala'.

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Davide and Oti

We are Davide and Otilia, two friends with itchy feet, living a non conventional life traveling around the world and learning everyday something new....
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