Gunung Mulu Park

Gunung Mulu Park Travel Blog

 › entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
Deer cave

To get here, you have to fly.  A quick hop from Miri on the coast, and we touched down in pristine jungle along a limestone ridge.  This park, a world heritage site, is remote and absolutely stunning.  It is primarily famous for its massive limestone cave systems, its pristine virgin rainforest, and its wildlife, especially bats.  In only a day and a half, I was able to see several of its biggest caves (like deer cave and clearwater cave), see the butterfly with the largest wing span (the birdwing butterfly), do a jungle canopy walk, see millions of bats fly out of the caves at night, and hike several nearby trails.  I could easily have stayed much longer.

A stream of bats. Notice the two bat hawks on the right
 

Upon arrival at noon, I checked into the park lodge (a shared room, but one that I happened to have to myself) and went on the jungle canopy tour.  Most of the sites of interest require a guided tour, but they are actually rather inexpensive (about $7 per person).  Our group of about 6 walked from tree to tree on hanging ropeways over areas where the nightlife is well renowned.  We saw fresh footprints in the mud from both a Silver Cat and a panther. 

That evening, we walked down wooden trails to Deer Cave.  On the way, the guide pointed out a stick insect hanging from a guard rail.  The first one I've ever seen, I was amused by its uncanny resemblance too, well, a small stick!  A few hundred feet later, he stopped and pointed to a mess of tangled green vines, sticks and leaves and asked if anybody could point out the stick insect.

  We looked around the small area intently but nothing people pointed out was correct.  Finally, one lady pointed to what really looked like nothing to me and it turns out she was right.  I couldn't believe it.  The thing looked EXCACTLY like a green stick in a bush.  I had to get to within a few inches to realize that she was right.  The thing was all of 18 inches long too!  What a clever insect!

We first visited the cave itself and then to a viewing platform outside the entrance to watch millions of bats do their apparently well-rehearsed exits from the cave in hundreds of individual ribbon-like streams, sometimes forming amazing patterns as they flew overhead.  A stream of them would exit the cave, circle around and around in formation just outside the cave, and then fly overhead in a long wavy ribbon over the jungle.

a pitcher plant
  There was a deep humming noise caused by their beating wings each time a ribbon of them flew over us.  Each stream was spaced about 45 seconds apart and this pattern went on like for almost two hours and well into dark.   I've never seen so many bats in my life.   The guide (who doubtless has witnessed this spectacle hundreds of times) impressed me by predicting what kind of stream of bats would fly out next ("next will be the first double stream", "next will be the really long one", "soon we'll see the two streams right behind each other").  I wasn't sure which was more impressive: the guide's memory or the bats' predictiveness!

The cave was amazing too.  It boasts the single largest cave opening in the world and it courses under a mountain to emerge though a smaller cave opening on the other side.

  Visitors can walk the entire distance in about 30 minutes.  When we went through, the bats were still hanging from the roof sleeping.  There were so many it made the cave ceiling apear black.  I was simply amazed at the size of the cave.  You could have stuffed several St. Peter's Basilicas on top of each other and a few dozen of them side to side in the cavern.  After dark, I walked back to the lodge alone in complete darkness in jungle that was alive with life and noise.  It was very exciting and a little unnerving at the same time.  I did have a flashlight, which I used to spot toads, cleverly camouflaged stick insects, hammerhead worms, and other strange creatures, but it was such a neat experience to switch it off and walk by nothing more than the light of the few stars that were able to penetrate the thick canopy, seeing only the glowing fireflies and hearing frogs and who-knows-what-else chirping around me on the long walk back.
  

The next day, I took a tour of some nearby caves that we could only access by taking a small longtail boat up a river for an hour.  It too was enormous.  On the way we stopped at a local village whose only visible source of income was from the trinkets sold to us tourists who cycled through each day.    The cave tour was exhausing and long but included such oddities as milky white formations, wind channels, underground rivers, and the famous single-leaf plant.   We ended it with a dip in a natural spring near a hidden entrance.  After the tour, I had a few hours to kill, so I took one of the many trails into the jungle to photo butterflies and stickbugs before checking in for my flight home. 

vances says:
Sounds like your cave guide really knew the "batting order"....
Posted on: Apr 24, 2009
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Deer cave
Deer cave
A stream of bats.  Notice the two …
A stream of bats. Notice the two…
a pitcher plant
a pitcher plant
hammerhead worm
hammerhead worm
18 inch stick bug (its the long h…
18 inch stick bug (it's the long …
going upstream
going upstream
stick bug
stick bug
jungle canopy walk
jungle canopy walk
panther tracks
panther tracks
opening at the far end
opening at the far end
a double stream
a double stream
a camouflaged mantis
a camouflaged mantis
local village
local village
Flying into the park
Flying into the park
single leaf plants
single leaf plants
cooling off after the hike
cooling off after the hike
view of the park from the airport
view of the park from the airport
90 km (56 miles) traveled
Sponsored Links
Gunung Mulu Park
photo by: bluemarbletreader