Robert and Sally Kendall – USA
We joined Andrew Sebastian, Guna Segaran, and Irshad Mobarak for birding forays to Fraser’s Hill, Taman Negara, Maxwell’s Hill, Kuala Gula, and Langkawi Island on (or just off) peninsular Malaysia. Except for travel between these sites, we spent little time in vehicles and much time on our feet. The upland and lowland forests gave us splendid experiences, the kinks in our necks notwithstanding, and the edge, open, and coastal areas visited provided a well-rounded exposure to the peninsula’s rich avifauna–and to the mammals: gibbon wars in the hill forests were memorable, as was our eye-level look at the taxonomically enigmatic colugo on Langkowi Island. As North Americans, we’ve had some experience with Asian birds (Sri Lanka, northern India), but it was especially rewarding to see some spectacular new trogons, a group we share. And although we’ve spent time in Africa (and Sri Lanka), the hornbills we saw exceeded all previous standards of casque ornamentation; the canopy walk we took brought us intimately among them, and Langkawi expanded our appreciation of them further.
Our guides were excellent–in their expertise, in their ability and effort to put the slower members of the party (us) on the birds, and in their affability. Even the vehicle drivers participated, either with the enthusiasm of a new interest or with the budding ability of birding experience. We learned a great deal from them all about Malaysia in the course of our tour. Transportation arrangements were seamless. As others have mentioned, accommodations were fine and food was tasty (better, on average, outside hotels). The people of peninsular Malaysia were among the friendliest we’ve encountered anywhere. I recommend the Birding Malaysia group to anyone interested in this area, recognizing that some of their tours (to Sulawesi, for example) are necessarily taken under more primitive conditions than we experienced. The personnel will make the rougher accommodations and conditions a minor distraction, I am sure.