Thursday, August 09, 2007

Mulu's Trek and Trails - Part 1

Mulu has three adventure treks, all of which require a certain level of physical fitness. You need basic camping gear, as it is useful if you are planning to stay overnight in the jungle base camps. Trekkers must be accompanied by official park guides. Most tour operators can assist with travel arrangements for these treks and also can supply any necessary equipment and food.

Deer Cave & Lang's Cave:
You can reach the Deer Cave by following a three kilometers plankwalk path where you will pass through peat swamp, alluvial flats and limestone outcrops including some superb rainforest, jungle streams and an ancient Penan burial cave.

Upon reaching the cave entrance, there is no doubt that you are about to enter the largest cave passage in the world. The cave is simply huge, over 2 kilometers in length and not less than 90 meters high and wide. The main chamber, which is partially lit by sunlight, is 174 meters wide and 122 meters high. Deer used to shelter at this cave and this explains why the name Gua Rusa (Deer Cave) was given by the local Penan and Berawan people.

Deer Cave is home to many species of bats. If the weather is fine, visitors may be treated to the spectacular sight of a black cloud of free-tailed bats merging from the entrance of the cave to go in search of food between 5 and 7pm. Initially, this cloud was thought to contain hundreds of thousands of bats, but recently according to a study it was known that the figure is well over 1.3 millions. These bats help to control pests on crops around the vicinity of the caves. They get rid of insects like mosquitoes. It was estimated that each bat could eat 10gms of insects or fruits per day.

There is a path leads into the cave and winds its way around, follow the natural contours of the cave floor. This path eventually leads to the "Garden of Eden" where a hole in the cave roof lets in a shaft of light, which allows the rich green vegetation to thrive. Another feature is the famous profile of Abraham Lincoln, which guards the southern entrance of the cave.

A visit to Deer Cave is usually combined with one to Lang's Cave, whose entrance is a short distance away from that of Deer Cave. Lang's Cave is the smallest of the show caves but its rock formations are well worth seeing. These are more attractive, as all are strategically positioned spotlights, which highlight stalactites and stalagmites.

Clearwater Cave & Wind Cave:
Clearwater Cave is Asia's longest cave and also rated as 7th longest cave passage in the world. It measures 107km. It has a subterranean river, part of which is navigable by boat.

There are two ways to access Clearwater Cave. First, you can trek a 4 km nature trail, which takes about one and half hours. Alternatively, you can take the longboat cruise along the Melinau River where it stops at Wind Cave. This usually take 15 minutes but, if the water level is low, the journey might takes longer as the boatman often has to jump out of the boat and push.

Wind Cave, which is part of the Clearwater Cave system, has many impressive stalactites, stalagmites, flowrocks, helitites and rock corals, some of which are illuminated in the 'King's Room.'

After visiting these caves, visitors can climb down the steps to the picnic area. There is a crystal clear pool at the area filled by water that flows out from the caves which is an excellent swimming spot. Visitors can also choose to relax on the picnic benches and admire the rainforest scenery, or perhaps watch the swarms of butterflies that are often found fluttering around the riverbank. If you are lucky, you might see the Rajah Brooke butterfly with its huge bright-green coloured wings.

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