Gunung Mulu National Park is one of the most fascinating nature parks of Malaysia. Located in the middle of the jungle of Borneo, it is one of the few places where you can experience the ‘real’ jungle feeling.
The park, that was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000, is best known for its gigantic cave system. It has a number of records to it’s name. For instance, located in Gunung Mulu is the largest cave chamber in the world: the Sarawak Chamber (part of Good Luck Cave). It is also home to the the longest cave in Southeast Asia.
In addition, the park is known for a special natural phenomenon, called the ‘Bat Exodus’. Every evening, millions of bats that house in the caves, will fly outward to the jungle.
But in addition to the caves and bats, there is much to do and see. We give you six reasons why a visit to Gunung Mulu should definitely be added to the itinerary of your trip to Malaysian Borneo.
1. Remote location, yet easily accessible
Gunung Mulu is located in the jungle and has long been accessible only by boat or 4×4 ride (through unpaved jungle paths). For the true adventurers, these options are still possible.
Most people however, will choose to get there by plane. Ever since a small airstrip was built, the park has gotten a lot easier to reach. MASwings provides several daily flights from Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and Miri, for a very reasonable price.
The flight in itself is a special experience. You fly in over the vast jungle in a propellor-powered airplane. Especially during the landing, you’ll have a truly fantastic view.
The big attraction of Gunung Mulu National Park is its enormous cave system. There is a huge amount of caves in the region, totalling more than 300 km in length. The cave system has still not entirely been explored, so official reconnaissance expeditions are organized regularly.
There are a number of caves that are open to the public, of which 4 are relatively easy to visit. These are: Deer cave, Langs Cave, Clearwater Cave and Cave of the Winds. These caves can be visited under supervision of a guide. Excursions to the caves can be booked in advance (online), or at the park headquarters.
With its length of 2 kilometres and height of 174 meters, Deer Cave is the largest cave in the world that is accessible to the public. Very impressive to stand in the middle of this gigantic chamber! In this cave you will also find the ‘Garden of Eden’, an open space in the ceiling where light shines in, and where vegetation can grow. The Deer Cave is also home to a large population of bats, that leave the cave every day around sunset (read more below).
Compared to its neighbour Deer Cave, Langs Cave has a more modest size. This cave has many low ceilings and is therefore ideally suited to view its special stalagmite- and stalactite formations up close.
Clearwater Cave is named after the underground river that flows through the cave. It is a labyrinth of over 100 km and is the longest cave in Southeast Asia. You can reach the entrance of the cave by riding a longboat along the Melinau River, followed by a hefty climb of a 200-step staircase.
Wind Cave is named after the constant breeze that blows through this cave. The cave has a particular variety of rock formations, of which the most extraordinary can be seen in the ‘King’s Chamber’. Visiting Wind Cave is often combined with a visit to Clearwater Cave.
Besides the underground sights in the park, the surrounding (aboveground) jungle is an experience in itself. Gunung Mulu houses some special plants and animal species, which are characteristic for this area. In addition to 27 species of bats that live in the caves, there are also a large number of bird species, mammals, reptiles and insects to observe. In and around the park HQ you’ll often spot these, but for the real die-hards, there are also multi-day hiking tours available to book.
4. Bats (Bat Exodus)
An impressive natural phenomenon that you should not miss when visiting Gunung Mulu is the ‘Bat Exodus’. Every day, around sunset, millions of bats, that sleep in the Deer Cave during daytime, fly outside in large flocks. They go hunting for insects in the jungle in the evening. The park has set up a special viewing area, where you can gaze at this spectacular event.
5. Hiking & Activities
In and around the headquarters of Gunung Mulu, you can make a number of short walks on marked trails. A short trip, (2 hours) that can be taken without a guide, leads to the Paku Waterfall. You can also do the Canopy Skywalk, a route of about 500m on rope bridges that have been strained over the trees.
For serious hikers, there are also plenty of opportunities to make longer (multi-day) jungle tours, accompanied by a guide. There is a 3 day trip to the ‘Pinnacles‘: large jagged rocks protruding the jungle. Another tour is called the ‘Head-hunters Trail’ and follows a route that was frequently used by head-hunter tribes.
6. Suits all budgets
A visit to Gunung Mulu National Park fits within any budget. The tours and activities are slightly more expensive than in other parks, but you won’t pay staggering amounts. Obviously this depends on the type of activity. A visit to the main 2 caves will cost you around MR 30, while a multi-day tour will be around MR 400.
Regarding eating and sleeping options, there are more than enough options. There are accommodations available within the park itself, but there are opportunities outside as well. For the real backpackers, there are dorms and lodges. If you are more fond of luxury, you can also stay at the Mulu Marriott Resort, where you can get some well deserved relax-time after a day of slogging through the jungle.
Here are some great deals on accomodation in Gunung Mulu National Park (via booking.com):
Have we convinced you to visit Gunung Mulu National Park? You can find more information about the park at these websites: