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Deer Cave & Lang Cave hike at Gunung Mulu National Park

Deer Cave & Lang Cave hike at Gunung Mulu National Park

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Deer Cave| Lang Cave | Gunung Mulu National Park| World Heritage Site| Sarawak Malaysia

Nestled in the heart of the Malaysian jungle is a beautiful hidden gem called Gunung Mulu National Park; home to the prominent Deer Cave. This extensive cave system is protected as a World Heritage site,  and has become the number one leader on our list of “Once in a lifetime hikes!”

Gunung Mulu National Park - Walkway leading up to Deer Cave

This spring we were invited to visit my brother and his family in Borneo. They have been living and working in the Brunei area for over four years now. This was our first chance to visit.  After making the big flight across the ocean we were eager to explore our new surroundings.   On a whim our little group of far from-home trekkers decided to take a quick two day side-trip into the Malaysian jungle.

Gunung Mulu National Park-Jungle Foliage

Gunung Mulu National Park-Jungle Foliage

Gunung Mulu National Park-Jungle Foliage

After a quick 30 minute flight from Miri, we arrived at a tiny little airport surrounded completely by dense jungle forest. We learned later that the airport only opens twice a day to accommodate one flight in and one flight out.

Gunung Mulu National Park-Welcome sign at airport

From there, we climbed boarded an open-air bus that took us the short drive to our hotel. The Marriott Mulu is an enchanting five star tropical resort and spa only five minutes from Mulu’s National Park.  This outstanding property is fit for a king!

Mulu-Marriot Hotel

Our early arrival time gave us a chance to quickly tour our rooms, grab a bite to eat at the poolside restaurant and decide who was going on the big adventure.  At the hotel entrance a shuttle comes by every 15 minutes to take curious explores to the gates of the Mulu National Park.

Gunung Mulu National Park- Prawn mee-hoon lunch

Gunung Mulu National Park-Shuttle to Park gates

The moment we stepped onto the rope bridge leading into the park, we were overwhelmed by how far we had travelled. Here we were a bunch of small town Canadian folks that had flown halfway around the world, standing amongst the lush green vegetation of a tropical rainforest, in a humid 38 degrees Celsius heat, about to trek up to our first set of “Show caves.” We weren’t in Canada any more Toto!

Gunung Mulu National Park gate swinging rope bridge

Our first stop was the Discovery center. We learned that a tour would be heading up the world famous Deer & Lang caves at 2-2:30 pm.  We quickly paid the tour fee of $30 Malaysian ringgit for each person, and set off on the easy 3 hour walk along the boardwalk. Our guide told us we would arrive just in time to see the bat exodus!

Gunung Mulu National Park-Plank boardwalk

Walking in the jungle is truly magnificent. It is like a strange, beautiful emerald oasis. We dawdled behind our group taking photos of interesting flora and fauna along with some of the local jungle residents we stumbled across.

Gunung Mulu National Park-Centipede

Gunung Mulu National Park-Dragon Fly

Gunung Mulu National Park-furry caterpillar

We arrived first at Lang caves.  A cavern filled with an impressive collection of limestone columns and pillar being shaped by trickling water. Each rock formation was a beautiful display of Mother Nature’s relentless determination to grow and change! The cave’s stalactites and stalagmites are charmingly lit to highlight the geological history of the area and many stairs take you up and around the many different mineral growths.

Gunung Mulu National Park-Stalactite formation

Gunung Mulu National Park-Limestone formations  Next we take the short walk along the boardwalk to the impressive Deer Cave.  The sheer size of this cave is jaw-dropping.  It ranks as the second largest cave in the world and is simply huge!  It is just over 1.9 Km in length and ranges any were from 90 meters (295 Feet) to 122 meters (400 Feet) high , by 90 meters (295 Feet) to 174 meters (571 Feet) wide. The enormous opening in the earth is large enough to fly a jumbo jet through without its wings touching the walls!

Gunung Mulu National Park-Deer Cave Opening

Inside view of Deer Cave Mulu

There is a kind of grandeur and magnificent to the interior of Deer cave, like being enveloped in Mother Nature’s own private cathedral. (Maybe because you can fit 5 Saint Paul Cathedral’s inside it!) Everywhere you look there is evidence of creation, evolution and time.  It is humbling to think how we humans fit into such a unique ecosystem.  From the seething black mass of bats attached to the cave’s roof to the giant Garden of Eden at the end of the cave, it is an outstand display of the  evolutionary-process.

Gunung Mulu National Park-Garden of Eden

Gunung Mulu National Park-Shower head rock formation

Deer cave is home to roughly twelve different bat species. Scientist estimate there is just over 3 million bats, happily co-existing with an abundant population of guano eating insects, swiftlets, cave snakes and the occasional deer that sneaks in to drink from the ancient riverbed , now enriched with salt and minerals from the bat guano.

Gunung Mulu National Park-Bats hanging from cave ceiling

Most evening at dusk the cave begins to bustle with activity as the bat colony stirs to life in preparation for their mass exodus from the cave, in search of food.   The colony begins to gather at the cave exits, forming large swirling funnels of gyrating clouds of bats that rise in a tempest whirl against the cliff wall. This is a defense mechanism against the ever present Bat Hawks that roost on the nearby rock face waiting for an easy meal.

Gunung Mulu National Park-bat colony dodging Bat Hawks

Gunung Mulu National Park-Cloud of Bats moving out of deer cave

Soon the ribbons of bats disappear out over the rainforest and into the night sky.  The light begins to fade and it is time to make the 3 Km walk down the plank-path to the gate entrance.    To us the jungle sounds seems to grow even louder in the fading light.  One creature in particular, with its incessant “WoK, WoK, WoK!”  seems to be encouraging us to walk faster, as if we should hurry.  We obey, pausing only long enough to watch the hypnotizing dance of a cluster of fireflies moving along the path in front of us.

Gunung Mulu National Park- Plank Board walk

Mulu’s World Heritage team has done an amazing job at building a walkway up to and into these show caves.  People of all types of skill sets can take advantage of the trail system and  view one of nature’s most amazing cave structures.  The trek is an easy one with a ready-made path, however keep in mind that it is 3 Km up to the caves, 2 Km of walking into the caves to explore them and then the additional 3 Km walk back to Park headquarters.  Giving you a total of about 8 Km round-trip.

deer-cave-layout

On this hike we were very lucky not to have experienced any rain. However, we have heard stories from other trekkers who said had been up to the caves and experienced only rain.  So here is a short list of items we suggest you bring on your jungle walk. Be prepared for anything!

  • Water -Make sure you have plenty of it with the heat.
  • Energy snacks – to keep you going.
  • Dri-Fit attire -may help wick away some of the moisture.
  • A good pair of shoes – to navigate the bat guano caved paths
  • Camera – to capture the beauty in and around the caves
  • Flashlight or torchlight – to help see in the darker sections of the caves as well as for the walk home
  • Waterproof backpack -for your phones and camera gear
  • Rain gear or a rain poncho -just in case it does rain.

The Show Caves of Mulu are breathtaking beautifully (and not just because of the smell of the bat guano!)  If we lived closer, we would definitely go back to explore and re-explore these amazing formations.  They are well worth the walk!

Click here to see the map listing for Deer Cave, Lang cave, In Gunung Mulu National Park.



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