Gunung Mulu National Park. National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia

Gunung Mulu National Park

National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia

Gunung Mulu National Park Photo © mohd helmi daud

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Gunung Mulu National Park

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Sharp, needle-like rock formations made of limestone rise high above the trees. These rocks make up the Pinnacles, a fascinating and also terrifying feature that is the highlight of the Gunung Mulu National Park. The rocks are up to 148 feet in height, and their jagged surface can cut mountaineers who are not careful when climbing. Early explorers in the 1850s reported severe wounds in their accounts. The landscape and limestone rock formations in the national park have become a subject of study for scholars and researchers all over the world.

Gunung Mulu National Park has a total area of around 52,000 hectares and can be found in Sarawak, Borneo. Gunung translates to “mountain”, and Gunung Mulu has the record of having the second tallest summit in Malaysia at the height of 7,799 feet. The rainforest is also abundant in biological diversity with thousands of plant species. It is also composed of a complex, underground cave system that reaches hundreds of kilometers. It houses the largest cave chamber in the world called the Sarawak Chamber.

It was in 1856 that Spencer St. John from Britain attempted to explore Gunung Mulu. Next was Dr. Charles Hose in 1893. They both failed because the tall cliffs and sharp rocks obstructed their path. It was in 1932 when Edward Shackleton’s expedition reached the summit. Gunung Mulu was named a national park in 1974 and it was opened to the public in 1985. In November 2000, the nature park obtained the status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its geological evolution and natural splendor.

The Summit

Climbing up the summit of Gurung Mulu can take time and effort, but upon reaching the top, one is rewarded with a sublime view of the surrounding Gunung Benarat and Melinau Gorge. Usually, it takes four days and three nights to complete the trek. The starting point is at the park's headquarters, where a trek of 492 feet in distance leads to the next stop, which is Camp 1. The second day consists of a trek leading to Camp 4 or Summit Camp, which is 5,906 feet away. From there, a climb to the summit is steep and one must hold onto the attached, permanent ropes which are provided. The climb would take another one and a half hours.

Melinau Gorge

The Melinau Gorge is bounded by sandstone cliffs leading to the Gunung Api (Wikipedia Article) and the Melinau River runs through it. It is near Camp 5, where climbers are provided with a shorter and faster three-day route to the summit. Walking through the gorge, one can encounter a mix of high and low-level river waters and rock boulders.

Gunung Api

Api stands for “fire”, hence it is translated as “Fire Mountain”. Because of the dry climate in the mountain, forest fires often occur, sometimes so immense that it is mistaken for a volcano. The mountain is 5,610 feet high and the climb to Gunung Api takes around three days. It is the next stop coming from the Pinnacles and it is also considered to be one of the most difficult mountains to climb in Malaysia.

Caves

Only a few number of caves were made accessible to the public, and each of them can be visited independently to witness their distinctive features. The Deer Cave (Wikipedia Article) has the biggest cave mouth in the world. It has undulating walls and a river that flows through the cave, and water streams that flow from above. It is also home to over 3 million Wrinkle Lipped Bats and at the far end lies the Garden of Eden, called so because of its lush plantation and 98 feet high waterfall. Lang Cave is smaller with impressive stalagmites and stalactites. The other caves are Clearwater Cave, known for its helictites and photokarsts which are similar to the Pinnacles, and Cave of the Winds. Bat activity can be observed at the Bat Observatory, which shows live feed of recordings from a remote controlled camera.

How to Get There

The easiest and most recommended way to get to the mountains of Gurung Mulu is by plane. Book a ticket from Miri (Wikipedia Article) to Mulu with daily flights, or from Kuching and Kota Kinabalu to Mulu with flights that operate twice a week.

Another way is to travel is by boat, which is a 10-hour trip from Miri to Mulu. The port is located in Kuala Buaram, so from Miri one can take a cab to the port. The boat ride requires three transfers: one at Marudi, the second at Long Terawan, and third going to the park.

Trekking is also possible from the town of Limbang (Wikipedia Article) to Mulu through the “Headhunter’s Trail”, which was the preferred path of ancient warring tribes.

The entrance fee to the park is at RM 30 ($9.60) for foreigners and it is good for five days. All tourists are required to hire licensed tour guides as a safety precaution.

Nearby Landmarks

Sarawak has many attractions and sights to visit. Among those in the top-rated attractions by tourists include: Niah National Park, Lambir Hills National Park, Penan Peace Park, and Taman Awam.

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Author: LisaN505. Last updated: Sep 09, 2014

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