by Johan Alias
If there was an award for the biggest and the best, then Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak will surely win that award. No other cave system in the world can compare to the grandness and the diversity that Gunung Mulu can offer. The park is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is certainly well-known by travellers who have a passion for adventure and eco-tourism.
Covering 544 square kilometres, Gunung Mulu National Park is the largest national park in Sarawak, with Deer Cave being the world’s largest cave passage and Clearwater Cave winning the title as Asia’s longest cave. If that’s not enough, visitors can also go jungle trekking to the world’s largest tree based walkway – a 480 metre rainforest canopy skywalk that allows visitors a unique access to the rainforest – or witness the spectacular razor-sharp limestone Pinnacle formation, truly nature’s marvel.
Passage to the Deer Cave
The Deer Cave at Mulu is one of the more popular attractions in the park. The total cave passage is 174 meters wide, 122 meters high and it is home to millions of bats. Twelve species of bats have been recorded within the Deer Cave including a colony of Wrinkled-Lipped Bats, estimated to number between 2.5 and 3 million.
As the sun sets, visitors can witness the jaw-dropping sight of several million micro-bats spiralling heavenward in a black vortex out of the cave opening to hunt in the forest at a Bat Observatory located in the middle of the forest. This is also the junction where visitors can go to the Deer Cave and the nearby Lang Cave.
Sarawak Chamber – the world’s largest natural cave chamber
The world’s largest natural cave chamber is here at this famous park too – the Sarawak Chamber. The chamber, found in Gua Nasib Bagus, is so big that it can accommodate 40 Boeing 747 aircrafts within. To reach the chamber, one must follow a river upstream from the cave entrance. This long passage has a roof of up to 60 metres and may require some swimming and a traverse along a ledge.
To reach Mulu, one needs to fly. There are daily flights from Miri and Kuching and three times a week from Kota Kinabalu by MAS Wings and Malaysia Airlines.
The park provides lodging or accommodation with a variety of rooms at a rate of RM20 to RM150 per night.
Visitors can take a 30-minute long-boat ride along Melinau River to Clearwater Cave with a view of the Wind Cave along the way. The Gunung Mulu National Park organises daily trips to the various caves at the park, for schedules check out http://mulupark.com. Visitors are required to pay a park entrance fee which allows them to enter the park for an unlimited number of times over 5 calendar days. Visit the website for the fee schedule. Local English-speaking guides at the park can provide a wealth of information about the park itself.
Images by Sarawak Tourism Board