During the last school holiday, we went to Cherating. Great experience, beyond expectations!
First of all because we had been to Kuantan and Cherating beach during our last trip. For us, this trip is merely to "relax". And because we just came back to Malaysia, we thought we should for once tour our own country instead of spending vacations overseas every year.
We signed up for a hotel+tour package with Impiana Cherating Resort. The tour package includes 2 nights stay at the resort, 1 firefly watching tour and 1 turtle watching tour. It was priced at MYR798 nett for 2 adults + 2 child. All expenses for the tour including entrance fee, shuttling, tour guide are inclusive in the package.
On the first night of our stay, we went for the firefly watching. It was a fascinating trip. Frankly, for city dwellers like us, even getting onto the motorboat itself or trying to balance on the motorboat were already quite challenging ha!
As soon as everybody embarked onto the motorboat, the journey began. The motorboat led us into the darkness of the mangrove. The surrounding was really dark we could hardly see our own fingers at times.
Only the tour guide was allowed to carry a torch light (to lure the firefly out of the trees in order for us to see them).
According to the tour guide, with more developments taking place, we needed to venture much deeper into the mangrove area in order to find them.
As we went closer, the sight of fireflies rushing out from the bushes was so magical. The fire flies even landed on our hands and sometimes it landed on our shoulders too!
It is definitely worth the trip because seeing and feeling the fireflies, surrounded by them in real life were so much different. Photographs.. just can't elaborate it! In fact, during the trip, we were asked not to snap photos with flash. How would we able to take good photos in such darkness and no flash? So, in the end, we decided to pack our camera away, sat tight and enjoyed the view. And the wind breeze too...
If you wish to save some money, instead of going through the hotel, you can contact Hafiz at 017-978 9256 or via email at email@example.com directly to make bookings. For as long as you stay in any hotels along the coastal road (Jln Kuantan-Kemaman), it will be easy to get to Hafiz. Just tell him where you stay and he will be more than happy to direct you to his place.
The next morning, we went for the river boat ride (through Hafiz too). It was the same boat ride we took the night before except, instead of watching fireflies, we scout for wild animals.
It was a clear and sunny day.
The moment we embarked onto the motorboat into the mangrove area, we hardly notice how hot the weather was. Cool weather, light breeze, it was indeed an enchanting ride. I felt like saying "Wow, Mother Earth's so beautiful!
A great lesson learned -- we must preserve our forest, our nature and our environment!
Hafiz was good and experienced. He has a great pair of eyes. At quick instances, he was able to identify where the wild animals were taking naps. We saw snakes dangling down from branches just above our heads, colourful crabs, squirrel leaping in between the branches etc, a fascinating experience not to be missed indeed!
Most of the animals were sleeping during the day. That was why we could get close to them. According to Hafiz, these animals went round searching for preys the night before. They slept during the day instead. My goose bump got "activated" a bit as I started to wonder how many pairs of eyes were watching at us when we were busy scouting for fireflies the night before!
The river was getting narrower as we entered deeper into the mangrove. The water was calm, the surrounding was really quiet and creepy. Our imaginations went rather wild... wondering if there were any crocodiles! Hafiz comforted us that because this part of the river was close to the sea, therefore the water was a little salty and crocodiles didn't really like it. Unlike if we traveled further into the mangrove, we might get to say Hi to them!!
The entire journey took about 2.5hours. Amazing ride, this was definitely better than going to the zoo! To the least of it, no stinking smell and no hot sun above our heads and no swelling feet too!!
We went back to the hotel after, had a rest, strolled along the white beach and had dinner getting ready for the next highlight - Turtle watching.
Turtle watching was indeed THE Highlight of the entire trip. I always thought that we needed to go to Rantau Abang in order to see real turtle laying eggs. For this trip, we thought what we could see was just some "shows" presented by the rangers from the turtle sanctuary or we probably had to watch from really far ha! To tell the truth, we even brought binoculars with us for this trip haha!!
That night, we were told to stand by at the hotel around 9pm. They would inform us if there were turtles coming to the shore to lay eggs. Around 9.20pm, the phone rang and informed us that the tour guide was on the way to pick us up.
Without wasting any more time, we made our way to the lobby and here we come, TURTLE!
The place was approximately 10 ~ 15 minutes from Impiana Cherating Resort. It was quite easy to get there in fact. After parking our car, we need to walk a fair bit to get to the turtle. If we did not engage this tour guide recommended by the hotel, we probably dare not even follow him into the woods as the path leading into where the turtle was located was rather creepy.....
The tour guide was great. They explained to us what was happening and what was to come, they warned us things we should avoid etc. Definitely no camera flashing!
When we were there, we saw a mother turtle digging a hole to prepare for eggs laying. After a few attempts, we could see she was really tired. We could hear her taking a long deep breath before she continued to dig again. Soon, the hole was deep enough and she settled into position to start laying eggs. It was difficult for her initially as we were told that this was her first pregnancy (there was no marking on her flaps as usually rangers did marking on the turtle every time they came on the shore). According to the tour guide, mother turtle would return for next laying 10 - 11 days later. As soon as she finished laying the eggs, she would cover up the hole. Slowly she would crawl her way back into the sea. That night, she laid a total of 116 eggs!
We were given a chance to have a close up look at the turtle eggs. The egg shelf was rather hard though from the sight of it, it seemed soft. We returned the eggs to the ranger and was told that these eggs would not hatch anymore because of the movements and turnings. We felt so bad! That's why the ranger only allowed 2 of the eggs to be removed from the hole for viewing despite there were over 40 of us there.
We even got a chance to play with the baby turtle before setting them free into the sea. There were so cute and lovely. The moment we set the little ones on the ground, they started crawling really fast. The ranger told us that it was important to release them back from the same place so they would remember where they came from. Twenty years later, they would return to the same land to lay eggs.
My girl was very touched and amused. This trip was really "up, close and personal". It was a very memorable experience and educational trip indeed!
Note: For the purpose of watching turtles, June to August is the best time. Do bring a torchlight along just in case.