Are you in the mood for a different kind of adventure? Would you like to experience caves with challenging twists and turns, see breathtaking vertical cliffs and limestone formations? Then you should definitely leave for that long overdue vacation and head over to the wonderful Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia.
The Gunung Mulu National Park is Sarawak’s World Heritage Site. The Park was included in the prominent list back in November 2000 mainly because of its notable contribution to the understanding of earth’s history, plush flora and fauna, and rich biodiversity.
There are a number of ways to reach the Park. There are flights from Miri, Kota Kinabalu, and even Kuching. Unfortunately, it is not possible to travel to Mulu by land. The only way to get to the Park is by boat. From my hotel in Kota Kinabalu, I rode a taxi to the airport so that I can catch a flight to Miri. From Miri, the trip will take up to about ten hours departing from Kuala Baram, on the Baram River, by speed boat to Marudi. From Marudi, you have to get another boat to Long Terawan or Long Kabong and this is where you have to make reservations for a ride in longboats that will bring you directly to the Park’s headquarters. The trip may be long and tiring but it is definitely worth it.
Sarawak claims that you will find the largest and most spectacular caves in the world at Mulu. At the Park, you’ll get the chance to explore “show caves.” Each of these caves is unique and has a different adventure to offer visitors even if they were all formed by the movement of water that formed the limestone and by the river’s movement that flows through the caves.
One important thing to remember is that visitors are not permitted to enter any of the caves without a Licensed Park Guide. You have to book your tour at the Park Headquarters prior to your tour.
WIND CAVE – This cave is lovingly called “Cave of the Winds.” This is the first of the five-show caves and it is believed that the first crystals were formed in this cave. It is remembered for the natural columns and pillars that one can find in the King’s Chamber. The cave continues to grow amazing formations every day.
CLEARWATER CAVE – Here, you will feel the river water swishing in between your feet. It got its name because of the pool of water at the foot of the steps that leads up to the cave’s mouth.
MOONMILK CAVE – You can take a leisurely stroll when you decide to visit the Moonmilk Cave. You can simply follow the Melinau River and be engulfed in a rainforest. From here, prepare yourself to climb about 400 steps to the cave’s small passage.
DEER CAVE – Enjoy the magnificent cave passage which is known as the largest in the world. In here, you can follow it upstream and discover the Garden of Eden and enjoy the Adam and Eve Showers that shoot out 30-meter columns of water. The Deer Cave is also known for the bats that stream from its mouth every evening between 5:00 – 6:30 pm. You will certainly enjoy seeing the sky being engulfed in shadow and millions of bats creating interesting flight formations like doughnuts, spirals, ribbons, etc. A continuous stream of bats will be flowing from the mouth of the cave and it is an interesting sight, one that you won’t see every day. Bats are long-time residents of these caves and you will find twelve bat species in the Deer Cave alone.
LANGS CAVE – Small but terrible! Yes, this is a small cave with big surprises. You’ll surely be mesmerized by the decorated walls and lovely stalactite and stalagmite formations. From here, you can proceed to the Bat Conservatory to see the “evening exodus” of bats that come from the Deer Cave.
Are you still craving a new heart-pounding activity – one with a different thrill? If you answered “yes” then you should try ADVENTURE CAVING.
Grab your shoes and lots of water and you’re ready for adventure caving. You will be engaging in this thrilling activity with the Park’s experienced guides who will provide all the needed equipment in the “underground world of Mulu.” There are two tours to choose from for Adventure Caving.
RACER CAVE – This is perfect for first-timers. The trail is not long and is practically just caving. Prepare yourself for interesting sightings of birds, bats, and other interesting animals such as the racer snake – a non – venomous snake that feasts on bats.
CLEARWATER CONNECTION – This adventure starts from the Cave of the Winds. You’ll be going through big rocks and will be squeezing yourself in between really tight passageways. This adventure culminates in the underground Clearwater River where you’ll be required to do some swimming. You have to remember, though, that since the tour is dependent on weather conditions you have to make advance arrangements for the activity.
Aside from caves, you should also see the PINNACLES. The Mulu Pinnacles are made up of a series of 45 meters high, razor-sharp limestone spikes that tower above trees and other vegetation. If you’re interested to see the Pinnacles then you have to travel by longboat and endure a half-day trek to Camp 5 then stay overnight and start again very early the next morning. The track from the camp to the Pinnacles is only 2.4 kilometers but it is 1.2 kilometers high which makes the Pinnacle Summit Trek a tough one.
As you can see, the Gunung Mulu National Park truly deserves to be marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is BREATHTAKING. It is TIMELESS.
There’s no better way to end this but with a quote from the Chief Minister of Sarawak…
“As custodians of this wonderful site, we Sarawakians are proud of Mulu, proud of our responsibility to protect its values, to pass it on to future generations, and in the meantime, proud to share it with you, our visitors.
Take your time. Time to look, and time to listen. Time to learn. Above all, come, experience Mulu for yourself.”
PARK ENTRY – There is an entry for all National Parks when you are in Sarawak, Malaysia. As for Mulu, the entry fee of RM 10 (US$ 3) must be paid the moment you arrive.
OFFICE HOURS – The Park Headquarters Office is open from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm every day. You can also count on security in the Park 24/7.
MONEY – You should definitely make sure that you have Malaysian Ringgit with you. At the Park, there are no ATM machines, banks, or any money changers. All establishments will not accept US Dollars and they don’t have any facilities for credit cards so you have to make sure that you have enough cash.
RELATED WEBSITES FOR REFERENCE: www.sarawaktourism.com or www.mulupark.com