Friday, August 17, 2007

Mulu's Trek and Trails - Part 2

Ok, to finish off my writings on Mulu, here are the rest of the information with regards to trails and attraction spots.
The Pinnacles:
Mulu’s famous Pinnacles, which are a mid-way up the slopes of Gunung Api, consist a series of 45 meters high, razor-sharp limestone spikes that tower above the surrounding vegetation. The trek to view them is one of the most popular in the park, yet it is tough and challenging as the trail itself is very steep and requires a certain level of fitness.

The Headhunter's Trail:
The Headhunter's Trail is a great way of entering or leaving Gunung Mulu National Park.
The trek is organised by travel operators. It combines upriver travel, jungle trekking and an overnight stay at an Iban longhouse. The trail itself follows the route taken by Kayan headhunting parties who paddled up the Melinau River to the Melinau Gorge. From there, they dragged their longboats through the forest for 3 km until they reached the banks of the Terikan River, where they launched headhunting raids against the people of the Limbang area.

The Headhunter's Trail can also be done in reverse, starting from Limbang and ending up at the park HQ. Either way the trek offers an excellent introduction to the rivers and rainforest of Mulu and the added attraction of a longhouse visit. Visitors have the option to climb the Pinnacles as part of their Headhunter’s Trail package as the trek includes an overnight stay at Camp 5.

Gunung Mulu Summit Trek:
The toughest trek in the park is the climb to the summit of Gunung Mulu (2,376 m). It requires a high level of fitness. In the 19th Centrury, two old ‘Borneo hands’, Spenser St John and Charles Hose, attempted to conquer Mount Mulu, but expedition failed. It was not until 1920’s, when Tama Nilong discovered the ‘south-west’ ridge way to the summit. In 1932, Tama Nilong led Lord Shackleton and an Oxford University Expedition to the summit of Mulu.

Since then, the route discovered in 1920’s was used as the trail to summit. The trek is usually done by a 4-day hike, but experienced trekkers can do it in less. It involves overnight stops at jungle camps. A number of wooden huts are positioned along the trail, which provide shelter for overnight stops. Trekkers should well prepare with good trekking shoes, sleeping bag, food supplies, cooking utensils and sufficient water before the trek. Along the trail, trekkers can experience the rainforest and perhaps see some rare animals and birds, including various species of Hornbill.

We digress a bit. While I was a student in the UK (in the mid-90s that was), I managed to see some very beautiful countryside areas up in Lake District. Amazing it was. If you haven't heard of the place, search for Lake District in the net. For a place to stay, you might want to check accommodations here for the nearest ones, London is not too far away as well.

Visitors are required to register at the Park HQ upon arrival. There is a good information centre next to the registration counter. Book your accommodation in advance. Bring a raincoat, torch and camera flash along. Non-slip shoes are essential as the trails are slippery. Plan for at least 2 days’ stay in the park to visit the cave system.
No camping equipment will be provided by the Park. Therefore, bring your own sleeping bags (2 seasons) for Camp 5 are sufficient, but for the Summit Trail, warmer equipment is recommended. Visitors who are going for Adventure Caving must bring their own caving equipments, as the park does not supply them. The Park HQ also has a canteen, which sells drinks and meals.
Well that about wraps up Mulu for now. One of the things you need to bear in mind when coming over to an equatorial region is that it minght rain anytime. So get a good hat or raincoat or brolly ready (brollies don't really work all too well in the jungle) before you venture forth. It won't get as cold or as windy as Amsterdam during winter though so no thick clothings needed.
Next post will be on Sabah.

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