Niah Cave (Gua Niah)
Niah Cave (Gua Niah) Reviews
Amazing natural beauty: Niah Cave Mar 26, 2013
The Niah cave may not be as big as the Mulu cave, but it offers you with beautiful landscape and natural architecture. You'll be amazed how thousands of years can develop such one of a kind beauty every camera must capture. To get to the caves, I had to take a 45 minutes walk. Wear comfortable footwear such as sport shoe as the walking surface is quite slippery. I almost fell for almost 10 times!
There is a river that separates the main park's office from the journey starting point. You'll need to cross it by boat. The fare will cost you RM1 per person. However, if you need to cross it from 5.30pm onwards, RM1.50 will be charged per person instead. Please be careful when crossing the rivers; there are crocodiles in the river.
Before reaching the main cave, you'll pass by Trader's cave. This cave is where bird nest are collected before they are sold at the local market. Some people claimed that there were some bird nest collectors who have accidentally died here during their attempts in collecting bird nests.
The Niah cave is a great cave to explore. It could have been better if it was well-maintained. There are some abandoned or unused chalets that can be seen prior to entering the rainforest.
When coming here, don't forget to visit the painted cave too. This is where you get to see some of the old paintings made by local cavemen (who are believed to be my ancestors). There is an Iban longhouse here as well, so don't forget to check it out.
Part of the Discovering Malaysia travel blog
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Go jungle trekking, Explore Niah Caves Sep 17, 2010
Adventure, thrill and exploration are things that go together. It was only on an excursion to Sarawak in Malaysia that i got an opportunity to see this mysterious cave.
You will be surprised to know that this cave had initially been used as a burial ground. As we walked inside the cave we got a glimpse of 1000 year old rock paintings of small canoe like boats within greenish walls of the painted cave which were possibly used as coffins. And as we were trekking further down the cave we got to see a collection of bird’s nests. Also saw rare sights of swiftlets hovering over our heads alongwith eerie occasional screeches of bats.
And you’ll be fascinated to know that the edible white bird’s nests are actually used as a delicacy in the famous Chinese dish “birds nest soup”.
So if you’re planning to go on an adventurous trekking spree, then you must unearth the discovery of the Niah Caves.
Must do: Explore forest trails, visit the Iban Longhouse, enjoy boat rides, Go to Niah’a famous painted Cave and explore the Great Cave to see excavation sites.
Niah Cave - Legacy of Borneo Island's stone age people Dec 13, 2008
Degree of difficulty: Quite a challenge but exciting.
Early this year, my colleagues at school suggested that we go and visit the Niah Cave in Sarawak, Malaysia. It is not difficult to get there from Brunei as most of Brunei's border is engulfed by Sarawak land, all you have to do is get through the immigration at the Brunei-Miri, Sarawak border. I thought it would be exciting as I had never been that far in Sarawak before so decided to join the band.
We left the border around 10am and arrived at the Niah Cave tourist centre around noon time. We went there by bus that we rented. There were around 16 of us and each had to pay around 20 Brunei dollars for the whole trip (that's around 15 USD). At the tourist centre, we went into a mini museum displaying some stone age artifacts found in cave. I found this very very interesting (probably because I am a History teacher). If you are a bit of a souvenirs collector (like me) there is also a souvenir shop at the centre. So advisable you bring some money with you (around 100 Malaysian Ringgit perhaps, that's around 50 USD).
Okay before I go on, its better that I digress a bit into what you should bring with you:
1) Passport (of course)
2) Camera (you will need that later on)
3) Raincoat (you will find out later why)
4) Bottled water (the 1 litre one would be enough)
5) Fresh tshirt in bag (wrap in plastic if you can)
6) Towel (yup, you got the idea now)
7) Backpack (to put all these stuff in)
8) Good trekking shoes (you need to climb some slippery ladders in there)
9) A very very very good torch light
10) Some sweets to replenish your energy
Ok back to business:
From the tourist centre, you need to get across a small stream (there will be a small boat to ferry you across). Then after that it will be a long walk (around 1 to 2 hours walk depending on how fast you walk, how long your legs are...I'm short so it took me quite a while to get there) until you reach the opening of the cave. The first third quarter of the walk should be easy and pleasant as you only have to walk on very sturdy and well built plank bridge. The sceneries of ancient trees that surround you and the small animals and birds in the jungle would make you feel like you are somewhere in the pre-historic time. Do take pictures there while you're still fresh (cos you are going to be drenched later on with sweat and more sweat).
Although the bridge is quite modern, made of wooden plank and concrete stilts, you still need to watch out for loose planks or broken ones. These planks can be quite slippery too and with a width of around 4 feet, you can easily slip and fall into the swamp (yes it's a swamp with brackish water). When we went there, there was around a mile of bridge without planks that we actually needed to do some acrobatic walk on the 6 inches wide frame of the concrete bridge!! What an adventure that was. If I had to do it alone I would probably give up middle of the way but the team was in good spirit and we crossed that bridge with flying colors (and trembling legs).
Back to my review:
As you get closer to the opening of the cave, you will found some native people selling their crafts (very cheap price, I got myself a very nice necklace made of seashells for around 10 Malaysian Ringgit that would probably cost around 30 USD in malls and a very nice shoal handmade by these people for under 20 Malaysian Ringgit) They also sell some soft drinks there.
The native people who live in the jungle near the Niah Cave are the Iban people. They live in long houses not far from the cave. You can ask your guide to take you to these long houses. They are very friendly but poor people, so you might see things that you are not accustomed to. Remember to be polite to them. You can help these people by buying their goods.
Reaching Niah Cave:
To get inside the cave, you have to climb some wooden ladders with hundreds and hundreds of steps. You will also need to walk along a trail (this can be quite slippery sometimes). This is when you will need to wear your raincoat as there will be parts of the trail with water dripping (sometimes flowing like a shower) and you will also encounter some Bats and Swifts flying around (their droppings might not very pleasant to feel)
A Cemetary and Badminton court in a cave??
Yup, I couldn't believe it at first too, but along your trail somewhere between the mouth of the cave and the place where the native people sold their goods, there is a small area right on the side of the hill where you are climbing where you can find a man-made structure that used to be the place where the natives kept the remains of their dead relatives. Not to worry, they've moved those remains elsewhere (I didn't dare to ask). Not far from this is another area about the size of a big room. I was really shocked myself when I first saw it, but on the hard floor of the cave you can actually see lines carved deeply on the floor and it actually looks like a badminton court! According to our guide, the archaeologists had a few theories. Theory one - A long time ago, when Brunei territories stretched as far as Sarawak and Sabah, one of the Sultans used to stop at that cave. His entourage carved these line and turned it as a temporary royal court while the Sultan rested on a big piece of rock right outside of this rectangle.
Theory two - It was a place where the Sultan and his followers played Takraw (look it up on the internet). I don't really care which theory is the right one, but the fact that the lines were there really amazed me.
You should know that you have reached at the mouth of the cave when you have entered a huge space with a small modern hut in it. When I said huge, I meant really huge! So the adventure begins.
As I have mentioned earlier, there were Bats and Swifts living in the cave. According to our guide, the nests of the Swifts are useful as herbs for medicinal uses (have you heard of bird's nest soup? this is where the nests come from). The price of the Swifts birds' can fetch up to a few hundreds in the market, therefore the locals were paid by the bird's nests soups vendors to get these nests. To obtain these nests is not an easy business...more of Spiderman's business. The Swifts build their nests on the walls and ceiling of the Niah cave hundreds of meters high! (mind you the Niah Cave ceiling is as high as a 5-storey building). So how did the local reach there? by means of poles joint together. If you look at the surface of the walls and ceilings of the cave, you would wonder how they did it...you have to see it for yourself. Did anyone ever fall? ask your guide when you get there.
The floor of the cave is quite slippery. Why? well it's covered by thick blanket of Bats and Swifts droppings (nice)that the locals call "Guwano" (yummmmy). So if you drop something, make sure you clean it and your hands before you eat.
Exploring the cave:
The Niah cave is divided into several segments, each with their own name. The one that you must go to is the one with stone age painting on the wall. Now here comes the most challenging part. In order to get there you have to walk a few miles inside the cave, most of it with you walking in the dark. Zero vision. Pitch black. Kinda like the cave where Batman live in Batman Return only this has got real bats in it. Now, this is when your torchlights and good trekking shoes come to play. The walk inside the cave shouldn't be that bad, you just need to be careful of slippery planks (yes you are going to do the plank walk again here but this time, in the dark). However, some parts of cave will have some lights coming through the opening of the ceiling. You could feel the mystical vibes hanging in the air, its simply amazing.
Once you are out of the darkness you will come to an open area (no more cave) and you will continue from this point with the plank walk this time towards a smaller cave with stone age paintings on it. How to find the painting when you get there? You have to look for the wall with wire fences. (I spent like a few minutes looking for these fences). Once you find it, you would feel a sense of achievement! There is quite a big gap between the walls and the fences, so you will need to use a camera with a good focusing lense.
How to get out of there?
You use the same trail that you took to get there.
The whole journey into and out of the cave takes about half a day, and by the time you are back to the tourist centre, it should be late afternoon like around 6pm. At this point you will be drenched with sweat (you would be glad that you took your pictures earlier on). You can freshen up in the public toilet at the tourist centre (no there are no shower cubicles..just toilets and sinks).
By the time you reach Miri City, Sarawak, it will already be dinner time and you can stopover at the city to have dinner. There are many eating places there. You can also stay overnight at the hotels ranging from 5 stars (The Marriott) to no star (I cant think of one right now).