skull If you look up, close your mouth skull
skull Gunung Mulu skull

Entering a typical show cave

July 12

Feeling healthy again (how glad am I we had to do Mulu this week and not last?!?) I woke up raring to go! We were going to Gunung Mulu! You can only get there by boat (along the Head-hunters trail) or by plane which means that only about 100-150 people per day visit. It’s a Disney Land for nature lovers and a huge one at that. They say that in Sabah, with its smaller size you buy a ticket for a tour you are pretty much guaranteed to see animals, but in Sarawak it’s huge and you may or may not see anything….exactly what we are looking for. An honest to goodness jungle! Well kind of.

After our morning flight and short ride to the park we arrived at a well-organized, well cared for park headquarters. Most trails are on board walks (I guess to protect the forest as much as the tourist) and there is a schedule of guided walks and activities from waterfalls to bird watching to adventure caving. Truly something for everyone. The guests are a great mix of families, young people and old. I love it! We checked into our 21 bed hostel (blah) and signed up for the Deer & Langs Cave which included a stop on the way back to watch the bats stream out of Deer Cave – and the primary reason I am here.

We dropped our bags and took a peek around. The hostel was actually clean considering its full pretty much every night. If a hostel isn’t your thing then there are long house type accommodations with private rooms and very fancy chalets that look larger than my parent’s condo. There is also a fancy resort across the river…but we doubt we could afford even a beer there. We met our guide for the walk about 2:15 and started off. First of all we had the best guide ever and second - WOW! We slowly made our way along the boardwalk stopping every few feet asking questions and being told all kinds of amazing jungle things. Every other group passed us because we were so slow…I was in jungle heaven! James has amazing pictures of bugs from our time here, he went macro crazy. Click here for the full page of bugs

Some of James' favorites

The caves were great, walk ways again which we aren’t usually big fans of but to be honest I think is was to protect the cave more than us. Langs Cave is the smallest show cave in the park but has amazing stalactites, stalagmites, helicites, shawls and rimstone…that from now on I’ll call hanging things. The forming has a lot to do with the makeup of the area, limestone, rather than an active stream passage eroding it.

Weird cave worms. You have to look very close,
they look like string.

Waiting for the photographer as usual

One of the lovely skylights

Walking into Deer Cave was gross. Even before reaching it you could smell the bat guano, ewwwwww! Once in it kinda made your eyes water a bit. There were mounds of it all over along with lots of hanging things. Our guide was very excited to point out that everything depended on everything else in the cave and even more excited pointed her flashlight at a big pile of bat poo. It was alive! Alive with bugs of all sizes living off the poo the bats dropped, very creepy but so cool. Deer Cave is the largest show cave and is the largest cave passage in the world (although we think they’ve now found one bigger in Vietnam, but we weren’t correcting them) formed by a powerful underground river that once flowed through this area. It was an awesome sight.

An idea of the scale of Deer cave. The entrance is about 150m by 150m, just about tall enough to fit a 50 story building.

As we were walking out of Deer Cave the bats started to leave for their nightly hunt for food. Giant swarms of bats would swirl at the entrance then fly off in a line. This happened over and over and over again as we walked to the viewing area. At the viewing area we had a seat with everyone else and sat for about an hour (until we pretty much got kicked out, it was getting dark) watching the swarms fly out. We expected a huge long stream but to be honest were not disappointed. Two to three million bats exited as we watched. It was easy to see why people spend the time and money to come to this very spot every year, it gave me goose bumps to watch, another “is this real” moment. The only thing missing was popcorn and a coke.

The cliff face where most of the bats will exit, and all the onlookers.

A couple of videos of the bats
(Click on picture for link to videos, appx. 26 MB for the first, and 3 MB for the second)

On the way home we got to see more creepy crawlers.


We had a relaxing meal in the open air restaurant, with nowhere to go and nothing to see it was nice to sit back and listen to the jungle.

Finally we made our way to the hostel where I crawled into bed with a family of ants. Nice! I cleaned them off and switched beds with James…I couldn’t stop itching thinking they were there, and crawled up in my blanket and fell asleep. (Jokes on me…it was my blanket that was full of them…which I figured out the next day!)

July 13

James and I slept in, well kinda, a few girls got up early for a hike and left packing until the morning – 7 am! – and zipped, zipped, zipped then played with plastic bags for about a half hour (Is there not a rule in hostels that packing for early departures must be done the night before?) before stomping out on the wood floors. We had a decent free breakfast and settled in to read for a bit before going on a hike to the waterfalls or maybe the canopy walks. Around noon we decided to have lunch first then go. And around 2 decided that maybe we’d save the money and skip the canopies (the canopy walks were a bit pricy). And around 3 a girl we met said the water levels were low so the waterfall was just a trickle. So….our nature walk ended up being the short 3km to see the bats again. But it was still an amazing day of reading and relaxing in the jungle.

The bat show tonight was beyond words and I’m not quite sure how to describe it. About 5:30 a steady stream of bats started to come out and, not stopping to swarm, continued for about 20 minutes. This happened a few times and I was amazed every time. We sat again until the park rangers hinted it was time to go and again got treated to night time creepy crawlers on the way home.

A couple more videos of the bats
(Click on picture for link to videos, appx. 1 MB for the first, and 17 MB for the second)

Back at the restaurant we had a great dinner with the other three of our Pinnacle group and a girl from Australia. Funny, so far we’d been grouped with 3 other Canadians and the Pinnacle tour had one of them. There was also another Canadian couple here, I guess we Canadians love our Nature!

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