Important both for its high biodiversity and for its karst features, Gunung Mulu National Park, on the island of Borneo in the State of Sarawak, is the most studied tropical karst area in the world. The 52,864-ha park contains seventeen vegetation zones, exhibiting some 3,500 species of vascular plants. Its palm species are exceptionally rich, with 109 species in twenty genera noted. The park is dominated by Gunung Mulu, a 2,377 m-high sandstone pinnacle. At least 295 km of explored caves provide a spectacular sight and are home to millions of cave swiftlets and bats. The Sarawak Chamber, 600 m by 415 m and 80 m high, is the largest known cave chamber in the world.
Itinerary for 3 Days 2 Nights
Minimum price : RM 585.00
State : Sarawak
Accommodation : 02 nights accommodation at Royal Mulu Resort
Day 1 Miri – City Tour
Pick up at Miri Airport. Then Miri city tour to Sarawak Shell Berhad, pottery shop, The Grand Old Lady (Oil Well), Miri City Fan, Tamu Muhibbah and Taman Selera. Transfer to your preferred hotel.
Day 2 Miri – Mulu (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
After breakfast, transfer to Mulu National Park by flight. On arrival, transfer to the hotel. Afternoon, walk through rainforest to Lang Cave, which known for its beautiful rock formations. Explore Deer Cave, home to millions of bats and swiftlets. Weather permitting, witness the spectacular sight of bats fly out in formation. Return to chalet.
Day 3 Mulu – Miri (Breakfast, Packed Lunch)
Longboat ride to Penan settlement, then to Wind Cave to explore the King’s Chamber. Proceed to Clearwater Cave. Enjoy pack lunch at Clearwater Pavilions. Have a swim in the Clearwater pool if you wish. (Bring change of clothes). Then transfer to the Mulu Airport to fly to Miri Airport for for return flight. Bye bye!
Gunung Mulu National Park is one of Nature’s most spectacular achievements and the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Sarawak’s expanding network of national parks. It is also the largest national park, covering 52,865 hectares of primary rainforest, which is criss-crossed by fast flowing rivers and clear jungle streams. Mulu is dominated by three mountains – Gunung Mulu (2,376 m), Gunung Api (1,750 m) and Gunung Benarat (1,585 m). Yet many of Mulu’s greatest attractions lie deep below the surface. Hidden underneath the forested slopes of these mountains is one of the largest limestone cave systems in the world.
This system, a breath-taking natural wonder, contains a number of record breaking caves. With the world’s largest cave passage (Deer Cave), the world’s largest natural chamber (Sarawak Chamber), and the longest cave in Southeast Asia (Clearwater Cave), it is not surprising that Mulu is now world-famous. Over 200 km of cave passages have been surveyed but this is thought to represent just 30-40% of the actual total.
The oldest of Mulu’s caves started to form about 5 million years ago when sideways earth movements resulted in the formation of both limestone and sandstone mountains, lying side by side. Millions of years of heavy rain and the action of rivers and running water carved out the vast subterranean system that exists today. The weathering process still continues; dripping water creates new rock features, limestone is slowly worn away, and underground rivers carve and sculpt the caves, transporting limestone debris to the cave mouth or redistributing it within the system.
Although Mulu is synonymous with caves, the ‘Mulu experience’ is not limited to underground attractions; above ground there is plenty to see and do. The park is covered in rich primary rainforest and offers a whole range of nature-based activities. There are some excellent jungle treks and mountain hikes, including the challenging trek to view the Pinnacles – 45 metre high, razor sharp limestone spikes that sit majestically on the slopes of Gunung Api.
With it’s rich bio-diversity, and world-famous caves, Mulu offers the adventurous traveller an exhilarating cave and rainforest experience, possibly unmatched anywhere else on Earth.
Mulu’s four Show Caves were selected for their uniqueness or sheer beauty. They can all be visited as day trips from the park HQ and are accessible by plankwalks and well-lit concrete paths. Strategically positioned spotlights highlight the unique features of the individual caves. A plankwalk leads through the forest to Deer and Lang’s Cave whilst Clearwater Cave and Wind Cave are reached by taking a longboat up the Melinau River, or by following a 4 km nature trail. The more adventurous can do Adventure Caving.
Treks and Trails
Mulu has three adventure treks, all of which require a certain level of physical fitness. Basic camping gear is useful as overnight stays in jungle base camps are required. Trekkers must be accompanied by offical park guides. Most tour operators can assist with travel arrangements for these treks and can also supply any necessary equipment and food.
The famous Pinnacles at Mulu consist of a series of 45 metre high, razor-sharp limestone spikes that tower above the surrounding vegetation, mid-way up the slopes of Gunung Api. The trek to view them is one of the most popular in the park. But be warned, the Pinnacle Summit Trek is a tough and challenging one. The trail itself is very steep (near vertical in parts) and requires a certain level of fitness.
The Pinnacles Summit Trek is usually done as 3 day/2 night trek although it is possible to do it as 2 day/1 night trek. The first stage is a 1-2 hour boat trip along the Melinau River to Kuala Berar. If the water level is low, the boat has to be pushed over rocky sections so the trip takes longer. Base Camp 5 is a relatively easy 7.8 km walk from Kuala Berar, following flat jungle terrain and taking 2-3 hours. Camp 5 is situated near the Melinau Gorge which separates Gunung Benarat from Gunung Api. There is hostel-style accommodation at the camp, and cooking facilities. The Melinau river in front of Camp 5 is crystal clear and ideal for a swim after the trek from Long Berar.
The real hiking begins the following morning. The trail is 2.4 km in length but rises some 1,200 metres from Camp 5 to the viewpoint, passing through lowland dipterocarp forest before climbing steeply through moss forest. Here the trees area a lot smaller and everything is covered in slippery green moss. Limestone debris also litters the trail so trekkers must proceed with care. The last section of the trail is near vertical, with rope sections and 15 aluminium ladders strategically positioned to help with the climb. The vegetation is sparse although orchids, rhododendrons and pitcher plants thrive in the area, and can be seen at the side of the trail.
After some tough climbing you finally come out onto a rocky outcrop where the stunning view provides a good reward for all the effort. The viewpoint area is made up of a number of pinnacles, rocks and vegetation and has excellent views of the silver-grey forest of stone that rises up from the surrounding vegetation. After taking some photos and a short rest and a last glimpse of the pinnacles, it is time to begin the descent back to camp 5 and the second overnight stay.
It is very difficult to put an exact time on how long it takes to trek to the Pinnacles viewpoint. Fit and experienced trekkers should be able to reach the top in 2-3 hours. The not so fit but determined generally take around 4-5 hours. Most people spend an hour or so at the top before coming down. For many the descent is actually more difficult and therefore takes longer, so the return trip can take anything from 5 to 10 hours depending on fitness level.
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 and 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. They then 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 basic trail route is as follows. First take a boat from the park HQ to Kuala Berar and then trek for 2-3 hours to reach Camp 5. From Camp 5 follow the 11.3 km trail to Kuala Terikan, a 4-5 hour trek. Either rest and spend the night in the accommodation units at the ranger station at Ng. Mentawai (about 15 minutes from Kuala Terikan), or travel by longboat for 3-4 hours (depending on boat engine and water level) to reach the longhouse (Rumah Bala Lesong). After an overnight stay the journey continues by boat downriver to Nanga Medamit. From there it is possible to travel by road to Limbang.
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. As the trek includes an overnight stay at Camp 5, most tour operators offer the option of climbing the Pinnacles as part of their Headhunter’s Trail package.
Gunung Mulu Summit Trek
The climb to the summit of Gunung Mulu (2,376 m) is the toughest organised trek in the park. It requires a high level of fitness and a sense of adventure. Indeed, Gunung Mulu has always attracted adventurers. In the 19th Century, Spenser St John and Charles Hose, two old ‘Borneo hands’, attempted to conquer Mount Mulu. They and other explorers and mountaineers failed. It wasn’t until the 1920’s, when a Berawan rhino hunter named Tama Nilong discovered the ‘south-west’ ridge, that a way to the summit was found. In 1932, Tama Nilong led Lord Shackleton and an Oxford University Expedition to the summit of Mulu.
Today’s trek follows the route discovered in the 1920’s. It involves overnight stops at jungle camps and offers a chance to experience the rainforest and perhaps see some rare animals and birds, including various species of Hornbill. The trek is usually done as a 4-day hike, but experienced trekkers can do it in less. A number of wooden huts are positioned along the trail and provide shelter for overnight stops. Trekking schedules and overnight camping arrangements can be worked out beforehand with your guides. Trekkers should go prepared. Good walking shoes are essential, as is a sleeping bag (or blanket) as it can get cold. Food supplies, cooking utensils and sufficient water must also be taken. The park guides and travel companies can arrange this.
Visiting Mulu World Heritage Area is a journey into the interior of Borneo. To get from the coastal city of Miri you must fly over impenetrable jungle or travel all day up the Baram, Tutoh and Melinau rivers to the mountains on the far horizon.
Trips overland to a nearby longhouse, then a 2 hour boat ride to the Park, are possible but very difficult. The only access is via logging roads which can be locked, washed out and in very poor condition.
There are no buses, no highways and certainly no taxis to Mulu. So it’s the easy way by air or the scenic and slow, winding cruise by river.
You can also arrive from the north flying in from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah or hiking down the Head Hunter’s Trail from Limbang.
Which ever adventure you choose to get to Mulu it is just an introduction to the jungle experience waiting for you. Upon arrival all visitors to the Park must pay a National Park Entry Fee as set by the Sarawak Government, which is Rm10 per person for each day that you re-enter the park.
DAILY FLIGHTS FROM MIRI TO MULU
MASwings a subsidiary company of Malaysian Airline Services operates all
rural flight services in Sarawak, which includes Mulu
Alternatively, a ten hour river trip from Miri to Mulu is available. First catch an early morning taxi from Miri to Kuala Baram where an express boat takes you up the Baram River to arrive at Marudi around lunch time. Board a second boat taking you to Long Terawan, a small community of Berawan people. On the Tutoh River here you must hire a local longboat to bring you to the Park.
This is not a totally reliable service as boats between Marudi and Long Terawan can be cancelled without warning if the water level is too low in the river. Visit the Visitor Information Centre in Miri if you want assistance in organizing this trip.
For reservations and latest information on river trip please contact –
Amiho travel Services 085 755025
Lee Yong Express Company 085 756749 ( Marudi)
The Headhunter’s Trail
(A PARK GUIDE IS COMPULSORY BETWEEN KUALA TERIKAN AND CAMP 5)
The trail takes its name from its historical role as the route taken by warring parties between the Tutoh and Medalam rivers. The trail runs between Limbang, a picturesque town on the Limbang River, entering Mulu on its Northern boundary and trekking down through Camp 5 and then onto Mulu Park Head Quarters. (or visa versa)
Trekkers must begin walking from Kuala Terikan no later than 1.00pm in order to arrive at Camp 5 before dark. The area is very isolated with the nearest town several hours away, the trail is well marked and maintained but tree falls and river floods can cause confusion. A Sarawak Forestry Licensed Park Guide is compulsory on this trail – getting lost is easier than you think.