Borneo Sarawak Show Caves Gunung Mulu Borneo
The Show Caves in Gunung Mulu National Park Borneo Sarawak Caves are included in a Borneo Malaysia tour. The Show Caves : Deer Cave and Lang Cave are usually toured on the arrival day. Clear Water Cave and Wind Cave are usually toured on Day 2, a river excursion. TIP Take lots of water, a snack and local currency for day 2. Here are some of my pictures.
Show Caves Trail Boardwalk Deer Cave and Lang Cave
A 5 minute van ride took our group from the Royal Mulu to the Gunung Mulu park gates, where we began our walk to Lang and Deer caves.
We walked across the wooden bridge to this boardwalk trail, shortly before 3 p.m.
A wood railing along the boardwalk separates the trail from the jungle, and on the top rail, I noticed a small caterpillar about the size of an inchworm, and pointed it out to our guide.
"Good point," he said. "Reminds me to tell you all NOT to put your hands along the railing. These caterpillars can give you a nasty rash."
Much of the trail was in filtered sunlight or deep shade that did little to keep it cool.
Please make sure you have bottled water with you, and a snack, as you won't be back to this point for several hours.
Lang Cave Entrance a Sarawak Show Cave iconic photo
From the park headquarters, it is a one-hour walk on the boardwalk to get to Lang Cave, the first on the tour.
I love the shape of the mouth of the cave; so do many others, and you'll likely see its picture often.
Lang Cave is known for its fabulous limestone stalactites. It is also a very deep and narrow cave.
The walkways (you can see one in the picture) are well defined, but can be very damp, as the caves are humid. Water drops regularly fell from high above (at least, I hope it was water) and in some places, I had to dodge the drops and cover my camera.
Lang Cave Interior view at Show Caves Borneo Sarawak
Like all the show caves, Lang Cave is dark, so it is handy to have your small flashlight with you to see into dark corners, as well as to light the path and the stairs.
The walkways are wet many places, and covered with guano, so it's a good idea to wear closed shoes, with a good grip sole instead of dress shoes or sandals.
Not only will you get surer footing, your feet will stay cleaner. Remember you are walking in guano (bird and bat droppings).
From this cave, you'll retrace your steps back along the path through virgin tropical rainforest about a kilometre to go up the path to Deer Cave.
Deer Cave south entrance ~ Sarawak Show Caves Gunung Mulu
Deer cave is the largest of the caves, an enormous cavern that, apparently, St Paul's Cathedral (London UK) would fit into nicely.
Local deer hunters named this cave for the many deer who would come to the cave entrance to drink from the salty limestone pools. It could also be called Bat Cave, for the millions of bats that make it their home.
Though we didn't really see them, there are also birds and insects living here, including swiftlets, earwigs, centipedes, spiders, crickets, scorpions, white crabs etc.
It is truly an amazing cave, with the cliff face overhanging the base (path area) by a considerable degree in many places where the trail hugs the wall.
Deer Cave ~ inside the Cavern of a Sarawak Show Cave
Along the path, we stop to try to see to the top of the cave. The ceiling has large black areas that are actually the bats high above. Some flit through the lower reaches of the caves, but they don't bother us.
In this photo, you can see the falling drops of water (white specks) catching the camera flash. At times, it's almost a rain shower.
The caverns rise between 120-150 meters (400-500 feet) and waterfalls splash over huge cliffs. Deer Cave has no stalactites, and it is much darker than Lang, and with a lot more guano, even on the boardwalk.
With all these bats, some must 'come a cropper' (die) at some point. What happens with all those dead bats? They are dinner for raccoons, foxes and porcupines that come into the caves at night to eat them.
Deer Cave Cavern path dark and damp ~ Sarawak Malaysia Tour
Where the light streams into the cave, it highlights the water that's falling from above, and you can see they are misty veil waterfalls. During a rain storm, we are told, this fine-mist waterfall becomes a torrent.
Here, near the end of one series of stairs, the railing is filled with mesh screening. I noticed that there were a lot of spiders and cobwebs in the cross pieces, so keep your hands off the railings here, too.
Personally I prefer long lightweight travel pants though as you can see, some visitors were wearing shorts.
About halfway through Deer Cave, I could feel a welcome cool breeze coming from the north entrance, and hear the sounds of rushing water that got quite loud as we got closer to the north entrance.
At this point, you can see a river far below. The view out the north entrance opening is a fabulous natural grotto called the Garden of Eden.
Go up the nearby stairs for a better view. It's truly lovely! Adventure cavers who are led by a Park Guide are allowed to explore the river area.
Deer Cave bats come out to feed at dusk ~ Mulu Tour Highlight
We are nearly done our long walk back to the south entrance, when, nearing the mouth, we can see a black thread or stream high above and flowing out of the cave.
It's the bats, already making their way to find their dinner outside. Our guide urges us to walk really fast to get back outside in order to see them better.
We hurry out and down the path to the amphitheatre area.
This amphitheatre is located below the mouth of the cave. It's a cleared field lined with wooden benches (there's a restroom here, too).
This is where we gather in the growing dusk to see the bats fly past in steady stream for over half an hour, as they do on a good feeding day, like today.
Deer Cave Bats Exodus at Sunset ~ Gunung Mulu National Park
Usually, the bats start leaving the cave just after 4 p.m., with the greatest numbers leaving around 4:30 p.m. and shortly after.
If you've ever seen birds migrating like they do down the U.S. east coast -- the Outer Banks, NC, comes to mind -- the exit of the feeding bats is quite similar.
In this photo, I used my 300mm telephoto lens to get a closer view, but you really need to use at least a 600mm lens for wildlife closeups.
At least in the second photos, you can see that the specks in the first photo are indeed bats. As it was getting darker, we headed back to the park entrance.
I walked right smartly at a good pace, as I didn't want to be out in the jungle after dark. A loud sound, rather like a large parrot squawking, startled us; the guide said was made by a large frog. I walked even faster!
The guide also said that, by the time you walk to then walk through these two caves, and then walk back to the park entrance, you've walked close to 9 kms (5.6 miles) in all. Good thing I hadn't known that when we started out -- I would have thought it too far. But everyone made it just fine, it seemed. We were all ages, from teens to seniors.
Clear Water Cave mouth ~ Show Cave Hiking Tour Sarawak
The next day, we headed by boat to visit a native village on a river tour then tied up at the dock near Clear Water Cave, the third cave, and nearby Wind Cave, the final of these Show caves.
As large as Deer Cave is, Clear Water Cave is even larger, and largely unexplored. Indeed, it is the largest cave in South East Asia, about 107 km (66 miles) long.
Thankfully, we don't walk through all of it. Only the first few hundred meters -- less than a mile -- are accessible to visitors.
Our guide said that visitors who had also seen the famed caves in Guilin, China, told him that they liked these Mulu Park caves better, saying that Guilin has 'gone Las Vegas' and is not natural like these ones.
Stairs lead up to Clear Water Cave ~ Hiking the Show Cave Trails
This cave is not far from the Brunei border, and a swift water river runs through it. This cave, too, is popular with adventure cavers.
In several areas, our guide pointed out the adventure caver routes as we came to them.
There is an underground river system that leads to other caverns and passages, accessible only with a Park Guide. At one point, we could walk down to the water level pool.
This cave has many steep stairs, starting with these ones (pictured) that lead to the entrance. It was so hot and humid that even the Sarawak natives were mopping their faces.
And as wonderful as it was to explore, what with the heat, humidity, darkness and number of stairs, I didn't take many pictures. Some groups might see Wind Cave first, others might tour Clear Water first.
Clear Water Cave and Wind Cave signpost on Gunung Mulu Hiking Trail
Clear Water Cave, with its soaring vaulted ceiling, was a challenge, and I am glad that the tour of this cave takes place on the second day after a good night's rest, as I found it more strenuous.
I likely couldn't have managed it on the first afternoon. (My notes remind me that I found it was a lot easier going back down the 200 or os steps to the trail than going up!)
Now, I remember an endless series of steep stairs, so be forewarned. Even the young fellows in the group were pausing every so often to catch their breath.
Steps to Wind Cave Steep Climb! Show Caves Visitors Need Stamina :-)
Another steep set of stairs leads up to Wind Cave, named for the cool breeze that blows out of the cave mouth.
It felt like having air conditioning turned on, and a group of us spent some happy minutes here simply enjoying the coolness and the faint sunlight.
There are two decks leading into Wind Cave; The upper one leads to a cavern called the King's Chamber, so named for the golden colour of the stalagmites.
Wind Cave Formations are beautiful! These are truly 'Show Caves'
Some of the loveliest formations in all these caves are here in the Wind Cave. Visitors are implored not to touch the formations as they can be easily damaged, but they look so smooth and cool, it's hard to resist running your hands over them.
As I recall, this cave had the best lighting, which showcased the white limestone.
Gunung Mulu National Park has the most extensive series of limestone caverns in the world, much larger than the caves in the Blue Mountains, most of which had not begun to be explored until 30 years ago.
These four caves are known as the Show Caves, and are the easiest to tour. One can only imagine the challenges posed the other caves!
Swimming Hole at the rest stop area Gunung Mulu Sarawak Borneo
Once we had toured both Clear Water and Wind caves, we came out to this rest area where we could buy coffee, drinks etc. at a pavilion.
Nearby, we noticed a small flock of those wonderful iridescent blue-green butterflies we had seen across Borneo, and spent some happy minutes trying, unsuccessfully, to get a picture of them.
Just off the deck area pavilion, the river makes a natural, fairly shallow pool, a perfect swimming hole for those who want to cool off after hiking the caves. Several of our group headed down the stairs to narrow deck and waded in for a dip .
After this tour and hike to the Borneo Sarawak Caves, the tour group rested here for about half an hour before making the return trip by boat downriver to the Royal Mulu Resort.