Taking the longboat up the river, Mulu NP
Another packed day of adventures planned for today so was up at 7:30am for breakfast and down at the jetty by 8:30am. Today we were going to take a long boat up the river to Wind and Clearwater Caves via a village. We got into our longboat, there were 4 individual bench seats so one sat behind the other, Julie and I occupied the front two and Vaughan and Malcolm the back two. Two boatman controlled the boat, one at the back with the motor and the other at the front to punt us over the shallow parts. It hadn't rained enough for the river to be high so we did struggle over a few shallow sections and it didn't help with four heavy weight westerners occupying the boat!!! The boat ride up the river was lovely and relaxing and the thick jungle lined the river banks.
Longboat ride up river in Mulu NP
Another long boat was behind us carrying another four tourists. After about half an hour we were at the village. I expected a village tour but what we got was a series of information boards depicting village life and the local women had all the handicrafts on display for sale. So after reading the information boards we then wondered around the market. Vaughan wanted to buy a blow dart pipe complete with blow darts but didn't think he could get it through Australian customs!! I bought a small wooden carving on a keyring and Julie bought a necklace. When it was time to move on, back down at the boats one of the little boatmen and I mean little, he couldn't off been any more than 4'10”!! told Vaughan that he was to sit in the front as he was very big man!!! We laughed, thought it was funny especially as the way he said it! Another lovely 10 minute ride up the river and we had arrived at the caves.
Once gain there was a nice platform, picnic tables and bathrooms, all well planned out. The platform overlooked a very inviting swimming hole which after trailing through hot sticky caves was going to be very rewarding. Our first cave involved climbing up quite a few steps so by the time we got to the top we were buggered, heat and humidity takes its toll where uphill is concerned. We met our guide at the top and we followed him into the cave, once well inside the cave we could hear water and it turned out to be the river running through it! The cave opened into a large cavern and the echo of the river running through it was amazing. Getting to our next cave, Wind Cave meant a climb back down the steps then back up another set of steps, that swimming hole was becoming more more inviting by the minute! Wind Cave was nice, it had a series of openings so it was quite breezy in places so hence its name.
Boatman punts us over the shallows, Mulu NP
The breeze was very welcoming, for the first time in two days the heat and humidity got to us. The cave also had an unusual plant growing at its entrance, this is the only place in the world it grows. After exploring the caves we were very hot and were ready for the swim. The water was cold and refreshing and we stayed in for quite a while. Vaughan and Malcolm swam over to the entrance where the river goes underground to the cave.
To get back to camp we took the track via Moonmilk Cave. It was around 3 kms along a boardwalk that follows the river's edge for most of it. It was a lovely walk and we stopped and had a look at the entrance to Racer Cave which is normally only explored by experienced cavers.
Another group behind us
To get to Moonmilk Cave we had to climb up about 470-odd steps! It was a killer, when we got to the top there was a nice seat waiting for us! Moonmilk was a tunnel cave and was around 200 meters or so long, it was unguided and was pitch black with no lighting so you needed a flashlight inside. It was great walking through the tunnel, there was some tight spots that you had to squeeze your way through, there was only one way in and one way out! At the other end stairs descended back down to the river level again. We got half way down the stairs and stopped at a seat for a breather when Vaughan realised he had left his sunglasses on the seat at the start of Moonmilk so I waited for him to go back and get them, 15 minutes later he returned drenched in sweat. The rest of the walk back was pleasant but by the time we got back we were so tired and hot.
Lovely scenery in Mulu NP
We had showers and headed to Mulu Cafe for lunch then the rest of the afternoon we collapsed on the bed and fell asleep! In the evening we had our evening meal at the cafe where we noticed it had become increasingly busy as more visitors had arrived. It was our last night so we wondered over the bridge to the bar outside the park and sat and had a beer. The bar was rustic and built of rainforest timber and decorated with flags from different countries. At one point we heard this noise and we thought a bat had flown into a flag but on closer inspection we were shocked to find it was a Secata, the largest I had ever seen, it was the size of a bird and where was my camera when I needed it!