An Exhilarating Experience In Exploring
Gunung Mulu National Park
(30th July to 5th Aug 09)

An Exhilarating Experience In Exploring Gunung Mulu National Park

Three of us, Kenny, KC and I went to Mulu at the end of July 09 and took a 5-day round trip through the Mulu National Park.The Park offers the adventurous travelers not only an exhilarating cave and forest experience but also a challenging mountain trekking adventure in Gunung Api to admire the stunning view of the Pinnacles


I went mountain trekking with my friends to many faraway countries like in Tanzania, Argentina, Peru, Nepal, Tibet and China; but near home, I had only trekked Mt. Kinabalu.

Beset with dizzy vision, lens implant replacement and swollen retina for over a year (Feb 08 to June 09) I only made two short and easy excursions this year; one to Zangjiajie, China and the other to Bunakan and Lembeh for scuba diving. After fully recovered from my eye problem, I decided to make up for lost time. But with the global outbreak of influenza A (H1N1) it would be prudent to make short sojourns in not too far away and crowded places. So, in late July, Kenny, KC and I decided to explore Mulu National Park in Sarawak.


30/07/09: KLIA to Miri. Overnight in Mega Hotel in Miri;

31/07/09: Miri to Mulu by MASwings. Transfer to Menarat Inn. After lunch, to Park HQ and visit Deer and Lang caves. Relax at amphitheatre to see the exodus of bats from the caves.

01/08/09: After breakfast, by longboat to Cave of the Winds, Clear Water River Cave and Lady’s Cave. After lunch at Clearwater Pavilion, by longboat to Kuala Litut. From here trek 8km through rainforest and along Litut River to Melinau Camp (Camp 5);

02/08/09: After early breakfast, trek 2.4km in steep Gunung Api to Pinnacles Viewpoint (1,750m). Return to Camp 5 for another overnight stay;

03/08/09: After early breakfast, trek 11.3km Headhunters’ Trail in rainforest to Terikan River. Then by longboat down the Terikan and Medalam rivers to Bala Lasong Longhouse. Overnight in Iban longhouse;

04/08/09: After breakfast, by long boat to Kuala Mendamit and overland transfer to Limbang Airport for departure flight to Miri. Overnight in Mega Hotel in Miri and

05/08/09: In mid morning, depart from Miri Airport to KLIA.

The above itinerary was arranged by KC through KKM Travels & Tours Sdn Bhd of Miri.

Gunung Mulu National Park



Gunung Mulu National Park in North Sarawak is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It covers an area of over 500 sq km of primary rainforest, crisscrossed by fast flowing and clear streams.

The Park is Sarawak’s top attraction for nature lovers and outdoors enthusiasts. The Park’s unspoiled wilderness offers caving, mountain trekking and jungle hiking.

The Park has one of the most extensive and extraordinary limestone cave systems in the world. The Sarawak Chamber and the Deer Cave are the world’s largest natural chamber and the largest cave passage respectively. The Clearwater Cave is the longest cave in Southeast Asia. It has been reported that over 200km of cave passages have been surveyed but this is thought to represent only about 30% of the actual total.

Although Mulu is synonymous with underground caves, there is plenty to see and do above ground. There are many excellent jungle hikes and mountain treks. The most famous attractions are the Pinnacles - razor sharp limestone spikes clustered 45m above the rainforest and the Headhunters’ Trail which follows an old tribal war path in the rainforests.

With its rich bio-diversity and world famous caves, Mulu National Park offers the adventurous travelers an exhilarating cave and forest experience, which is unmatched anywhere else in the world.

However, Mulu National Park is a very inaccessible area. The only practical way of getting to and from it is by air from Miri. Prior to the opening of the airport, the only way to get to the Park was by longboat from Miri which would take about 12 hours if the depth of water in the rivers was sufficient for navigation.

A Journey of Discovery

Journey through Mulu National Park

A. Deer & Lang Caves (31/07/09)

We flew from Miri and arrived at Mulu Airport at about 9.30am. We were met at the airport by a representative from Tropical Adventures Sdn Bhd, the company engaged to conduct our tour from Mulu through the National Park to Limbang.

We checked in at Benarat Inn, a stilted timber hostel located near the Park’s Headquarters. The restaurant is located in a separate timber building close to a river.

The Benarat Inn

The river by the side of the Restaurant
Relaxing before lunch

After lunch, we started our expedition by van to the Park’s HQ and then we trekked (about 3km) along the boardwalk through the rainforest for about an hour to visit the Deer and Lang caves. There is much to see on the way especially the evergreen rainforest.

Mulu National Park HQ

Boardwalk to Deer & Lang caves

Deer Cave

This cave was a shelter for deer once upon a time and so the local Penan named the cave Gua Rusa or (Deer Cave). But it has now been taken over by thousands of bats. This cave has the world’s largest cave passage. It is about 2km in length and never less than 170m wide and 120m high.

It has two huge entrances one at each end. At one end, its 170m width entrance is “guarded” by a colossal profile of “Abraham Lincoln”. At the other end it exits into the “Garden of Eden”, a luxuriant patch of green which was once part of the cavern until the roof collapsed.

Profile of Ibraham Lincorn

The Garden of Eden

However, the most popular attraction of the cavern is the daily exodus of thousands of bats from the cave in the evening in swirling formations for their nightly insect feast. The bats are so good in what they do that one can sleep in the open without the need to use a mosquito net or insect repellent!

There is an open-air bat observatory near the entrance to the Deer Cave where one can sit and enjoy the phenomenal performance of the bats.

Thousands of bats swirling in the sky
The open-air bat observatory

Lang Cave

The distance to the entrance of the Lang Cave is a short walk from the Deer Cave. It is one of the smallest caves in the Park. Its different rock formations are unique with striking stalagmites and stalactites.

After visiting Lang Cave, we returned to Benarat Inn for another overnight stay.

B. Wind & Clearwater Caves & Camp 5 (01/08/09)

By Longboat to the Wind Cave

This morning, we left Benarat Inn and went by van to the Batu Bungan Penan Settlement. From there we left by a longboat to the Cave of the Winds.

The journey by a longboat going upstream of Melinau River was not smooth-sailing but it was a pleasant experience. Occasionally when the longboat had to go through shallow water we had to get off the boat and help the boatman to push it. Though we were well prepared with our shorts and sandals to assist, I found it difficult even to wade through the strong current with water up to my knees and in the rough pebble-strewn riverbed. More often than not, I would be left behind the others and this gave me a good opportunity to take some snapshots.

Smooth sailing
In rough & shallow water

Wind Cave

The Wind Cave or Cave of the Winds is located just next to Melinau River and is part of the Clearwater Cave system. The specialty of this cave is the cool breeze that flows through it and its unique formation of stalagmites and stalactites.

There is an area in the cave called the King Chamber, which has majestic columns of stalagmites and stalactites.

Clearwater Cave

Clearwater cave is named after an underground river system that flows through the cave systems. This is the longest cave system in Southeast Asia measuring over 100km in length of which little is open to park visitors.

The Clearwater Cave is a short distance from the Wind Cave. There are over 200 steps that lead to the entrance. At the entrance there are some single-leaf plants growing on the rocks.

The cave is not well lit inside but there are wooden walkways and paths which keep descending lower as one gets deeper into the cave. There are lots of stalagmites and stalactites in the cave.

Down at the entrance, there is a picnic area where one can have lunch and relax on the bench and admire the rainforest scenery and the crystal clear pool nearby.

Near the entrance to the Clearwater Cave, there is a path leading to the Lady’s Cave which has a striking stalactite resembling the Virgin Mary.

Longboat to Kuala Litut and Trekking to Camp 5

After lunch at the Clearwater Pavilion and a short rest at the picnic bench, we continued our journey to Camp 5.

First we went by a longboat to Kuala Litut. Again, because of shallow water, we had no choice but to alight from the boat a number of times to push it over rock-strewn rapids.

We disembarked from the longboat at Kuala Litut and continued our journey by foot carrying our own near 10kg backpack through 8km of relatively flat virgin jungle terrain. We reached Camp 5 just before 5.00pm.

Camp 5 is located on the bank of Melinau River and facing the limestone Gunung Benarat which forms a magnificent backdrop. We frolicked in the clear river in the evening.

Camp 5 is a base camp for mountain climbers challenging Gunung Api or the Pinnacles. It has three wooden bedrooms which can accommodate 50 occupants. We were in Room Three which has two rows of raised wooden platforms laid with thin mattresses. This room can accommodate 20 guests and it was fully occupied on our first night at this camp. We slept in our sleeping bags and a few had mosquito nets. I did not have a peaceful sleep that night, not because of mosquitoes but because of disturbing snores from two men opposite me that broke the night’s silence every now and then.

Beside the bedroom block, there is a block which houses the kitchen and the dinning room. By the side of the kitchen and located at the back yard, there are two washrooms, one for men and the other for women. In each washroom, there are a few water basins but only two toilets and two shower rooms.

Camp 5


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