To some people, the exodus of millions of bats from the cave may send chills down their spines but for nature lovers, it is a sight to behold. If that is not enough, how about a cave that is so big until it can accommodate forty Boeing 747 airplanes or five times the size of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral?Yes, we are talking about the caves of Gunung Mulu National Park, renowned for their natural splendour and mystical charms. The Gunung Mulu National Park is one of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in East Malaysia. The Park, covering 544 square kilometres is the largest national park in Sarawak. It is also home to the world’s largest cave chamber (Sarawak Chamber), the world’s largest cave passage (Deer Cave), Asia’s longest cave (Clearwater Cave) and a treasure trove of 2,000 varieties of plants and animals, from 8 types of hornbills, 170 species of orchids to 10 species of pitcher plants. The Gunung Mulu National Park also covers the world’s longest tree-based walkway – a 480-metre rainforest canopy skywalk and the spectacular razor-sharp limestone Pinnacle.
Godzilla-sized caves. Spellbinding adventures.
Imagine forty Boeing 747 airplanes fitting into a cave chamber. That is what the Sarawak Chamber, measuring at 600-metre by 415-metre and 80-metre high can do. Located in the Good Luck Cave (Gua Nasib Bagus) of Gunung Mulu National Park, the Sarawak Chamber is the world’s largest underground cave chamber.
The interesting fact about the Sarawak Chamber is one must follow a river upstream from the cave entrance to reach the chamber. Taking a journey along the passage with a roof up to 60 metres is truly as adventurous as the cave itself!
Another fascinating huge creation of Mother Nature is the Deer Cave. It is the world’s largest cave passage – so huge to the extent that it can hold five times the size of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral!
This is also where you will find about 3 million bats forming clouds circling higher and higher up the cliff like a tornado, leaving the cave and spiralling into the rainforests in the evening. Best of all, you can catch this natural phenomenon at the bat observatory deck. It has been reported that there are twelve species of bats in the Deer Cave, including the colony of wrinkled-lipped bats. Other animals in the cave include swiftlets, earwigs, centipedes, crickets, spiders, white crabs and scorpions.
To further thrill visitors, it is not just in Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the United States that has the famous rock sculptures of four US Presidents. Be surprised to discover Deer Cave’s very own limestone shape has the side profile of America’s 16th President, Abraham Lincoln.
Primeval caves. Memorable experiences.
A stone’s throw away from the Deer Cave is Langs Cave. This cave is an intimate encounter as it is tiny and has walls adorned with long shawls, rim stone pools on the floor and fascinating stalagmites and stalactites. Here, you will get to see for yourself rare animals like the small white cave prawns hiding in the pool or a clearer picture of the bats.
Another fascination is the Clearwater Cave. Measuring at 51 kilometres long and 355 metres deep, it is Asia’s longest and the world’s eight longest cave passage. As the name says it all, the cave is named after the crystal clear pool created by the subterranean river. The pool with water flowing out of the cave is the perfect spot for visitors to go for a little picnic while gazing in awe at the exquisite profiles of the cave. With plank walls, paths and small bridges, the place is perfect for photo opportunities.
Next is the Wind Cave, which was named after the cooling breeze along the cave. This is a small, tubular limestone cave formed during the Jurassic-Cretaceous era about 60 million years ago. A 1,000 metre plank walk running through the cave makes it easy and safe to explore. The cave, featuring unique stalagmites, stalactites, pillars and conical cavities and blade-like pinnacles of limestones makes this cave awesome and picturesque. Wind Cave is also a favourite spot for nesting of swiftlets, known for producing saliva which is well sought-after as nourishment.
The thrills of spelunking never end.
Apart from the number of caves mentioned, travel and tour agencies also offer cave tour packages, such as Garden of Eden Valley Walk, Racer Cave, Lagangs Cave, Clearwater and Wind Cave Connection, and Sarawak Chamber package.
The Garden of Eden Valley Walk enables visitors to enjoy the pool on the river, take a leisurely trail and watch the exodus of bats. It is surrounded by limestone cliffs on three directions. To the East, the steep ridge of Mount Mulu, from here a river flows into the “Garden” and passes through Deer Cave.
For the adventurous, Racer Cave is a challenging experience. Named after the racer snake, Racer Cave will test the endurance of visitors with rocks of odd sizes and shapes. From clambering up and down using ropes, sliding, crouching, turning of body to enter, the adventure awaits visitors. Some of the limestones are truly amazing, especially the curtain-shaped wall which provides a perfect backdrop for striking a pose. On the other hand, the Lagangs Cave is easy to explore. Considered ideal for beginners and family, the cave has a lot of stalactites, stalagmites and ancient river bed sediments.
Overall, with countless caves available throughout Malaysia, spelunking or caving activities are truly exciting. In fact, in some tour packages, you can even enjoy having “cocktails in the caves”. This subterranean cocktail will feature local entertainment by locals playing traditional instruments, such as the haunting lute-like sape.
So come unlock the mystical caves in Gunung Mulu National Park and be truly fascinated by its alluring beauty and adventures.
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For more information or enquiries, please contact Visit Malaysia Year 2014 Secretariat, at 03-8891 7000 or log on to www.vmy2014.com.