Mulu National Park & Caves 28 – 29 March 2016

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March 29th 2016
Published: April 4th 2016
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Mulu National Park & Caves 28 – 29 March 2016

It was lovely to have a sleep in until 7.45am, have a leisurely breakfast before departing for KK Airport. We were very excited about the next section of our tour as we were off to the Mulu National Park to see the second largest cave in the world. This is Deer cave, 1.2km long and the biggest cavity is 120m high.

After a 50 minute flight to Miri to get stamped out of Sabah and stamped into Sarawak, we got back in the plane for a 10 minute flight to Mulu.

We were met by our local guide Nelson, who worked for the Mulu National Park. Our group was divided between 4 vehicles of varying ages, to drive us 5 minutes to the office of the National Park. We were all checked in and given a yellow bracelet that we were instructed to wear throughout our time in the Park.

After giving out our room keys, Tom & I found ours which was called Cobra House a 4 bed room in Longhouse No 2. We were the only ones to occupy this large room. It had 2 hand basins as well as 2 showers. Everything was basic, in working order and with fan and air-conditioning. The latter was essential in such high humid, hot weather.

By this time it was about 3.30pm when we left with Nelson to walk over 4kms to Deer Cave. This is the cave that Adam wants to visit.

Tom & I could not believe what we were looking at. The cave was massive and with so many different chambers. We walked 1.2 kms to the end of the cave. One part of the cave was over 120m high to the roof. It seemed to go on forever. It was amazing. From time to time we just stopped to take the size of the cave into our mind. There were quite a few steps to get down into the base of the cave. We saw many bats on the roof – they are very small specie of bat. We could smell the guano (bat droppings). It is very distinctive but not as bad as fruit-bat droppings.

My photos may not do this cave justice but I hope the images give you some idea of the size of this cave.

The next cave was the Lang Cave. Our guide’s uncle discovered the cave and hence its name. This cave was big also but full of stalagmites and stalactites. It was beautiful and with no colour light enhancement but only white or yellow lights to add to our head lamp light.

So the Deer Cave was massive and the Lang cave was photographic.

The clothing we wore for these cave walks was hiking boots (no-slip), light clothing as all the caves we visited were humid and hot, head lamps and our cameras on a night light setting. Tom, the local guide and our tour guide all had really strong lights which were fantastic to enhance the lighting for photos.

We then walked back to about 100m from the entrance of Deer Cave where there was a lot of wooden seating with half-laid-back seating. This was so you could position yourself to view the mass exodus of the bats from Deer Cave and dusk.

We all sat down to wait for the bats. One must note that these bats are tiny. Immediately we saw a wave-line of bats coming from the roof of the cave. This happened several times. It wasn’t the millions of bats that I was expecting. After numerous waves of little bats flew out of the top of the cave our guide said it was time to return to our accommodation.

On the way ‘home’ we saw and heard a number of frogs, stick insects, a couple of lizards, centipedes and cicadas. We noted that compared to the more eastern section of Sabah which we had experiences, night walks were void of birds. In fact during the day we didn’t see too many birds either. We later learned the hornbills were heading towards extinction in Sarawak as the local tribes continue to want their feathers for tribal ceremonies.

After this 9.5km walk to the 2 caves, plus dinner, we flopped into bed for a fantastic sleep.

We had dinner at the Park’s restaurant, Tom and I had peanut satays, rice and vegetables. The only non-sugar drinks they had was red wine – no beer or white wine in stock!! One thing that has been tricky for Tom is the low supply of diet soft drinks throughout Borneo. Oh well, water is the way to go!!!

The next morning after another wholesome egg, toast and fresh fruit breakfast, we hopped in a long boat which held 4 tourists, the outboard motor driver and a man at the front with a long wooden pole and paddle to help steer the boat. We soon learned that at this time of the year the river was very shallow in places so the man in front was invaluable.

After a wonderful 40 minute boat ride we pulled up against a landing and started a wooden stair climb into the Cave of The Wind. Wind Cave or Cave of the Winds (Gua Angin in Malay) is located just next to the Clearwater Cave off the Melinau River at the Mulu National Park in Sarawak. This cave is a short 5 minute walk via a wooden walkway along the outside of the cave next to the river. The specialty of the Wind Cave is the cool breeze that flows through this cave as you are inside and also the unique formations of stalagmite and stalactites.

Next we walked to Clearwater Cave, but before we went into the cave we had tea or coffee as well as a deep-fried fritter – tasty but it did sit a little heavy. Clearwater Cave is the same cave system as the Wind Cave. When we entered, the entire place is well lit inside and there are wooden walkways with rails for safety and conservation reasons. We also encounter cave-dwelling critters such as spiders, bats, cockroaches, centipedes, even swallows who make their homes in the caves. There is also an underwater river running through the Clearwater Cave and your cave guide will lead you to it. A bridge goes over the river to the next part of the cave where you will see huge rock boulders.

After a really hot, humid 2 hours walking and climbing stairs, we arrived back at a picnic spot where we had our morning tea. There was the river for a refreshing swim. It was and refreshing. We paddled around in the cool, clear water for a good 30 minutes before getting out having a lovely lunch.

It was then back into the boats for our return to base. What an amazing, varied experiences we were having. We arrived back at about 1.30pm. About 7 of us were keen to walk 3 kms to a water fall so agreed to meet at 2.30pm with bathers and hiking shoes on.

The jungle was always very thick in this region. However, movement around the jungle was made simple by well designed raised wooden walkways. Both in the caves and approaching the caves, the walkways were always designed so that slippage was minimised. They had done an excellent job at looking after the safety of visitors to the Park.

After about an hour of walking, we spotted the waterfall. As you will see by the photos, it wasn’t too high, particularly as there had been not rain for over a week. The waterfall seemed to come out of the cave in the cliff.

We all had a refreshing swim in the cool water. I decided it was time for me to do some very fast walking so I left the rest of the group to ‘pace-it-out’. I must say I get less tired when I walk quickly. As I was almost back to our accommodation, I looked behind me and there was Tom which was great. We spent the rest of the afternoon doing our washing, sitting having coffee in our air-conditioned room and chatting and down-loading photos. It was good to do some “catch-up” stuff!

At 7.00pm the group met and walked 5 minutes just outside the Park for a yummy dinner plus a couple of cold beers.

After dinner, some of our group went for a guided night walk. Tom and I decided that because we had showered we didn’t want to walk in the high, humid conditions so went to the Park’s restaurant and had a nice glass of SA red!!!!

The next (and last) morning in the National Park, after breakfast, we met another Park guide who took us for the canopy walk which is claimed to be the longest in the world at 480m long. The highest tree support was at 30m. The spans of the single-file swing bridges varied. Only 2 people at a time could be on one span at any time. There were multi-person platforms around supporting trees as well as “pass-through” sections where only 1 person could stand on these sections at a time.

The whole experience took 2 hours as we had a 3km walk before we arrived at the steps of the Walk. Vegetation was thick at the top, again, void of birds except a few small bats. A river flowed below.

We were absolutely drenched by the time we got back to our bags which we had stored at the restaurant where we had dinner the previous night. After lunch and an hour’s wait, we drove to the airport to fly to Kuching, departing at 1.30pm. The flight was 1hr 45 mins.

We had enjoyed our stay inside the Sarawak jungle and were impressed with the amazing network of caves in the area.

Additional photos below
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