Monday, June 29, 2009

Niah National Park & Caves

Niah National Park is about 118km from Bintulu (about 2 hours drive) and 96km from Miri (about 1 hour drive).

Before entering the park and cave, one will need to register at the Park Office. Entrace fee is RM10 per person.

Head to the jetty as there is a river (Sungai Niah) to be crossed. The boat fare is RM1 for one way for one person.

The boat ride is rather short. I reckon it took just about 2 minutes to get to the other side. Another new feature here is a gallery and a museum (the structure with blue roof) had been set up across the river.

Once across the river, it is a 3km or about 45 minutes of nature walk along the new plank walk before reaching the caves.

It is a nice walk as I get to see park's wildlife, birds, squirrels, butterflies, primary forest and etc.

Interestingly, there is a food and drink stalls before arriving at the first cave. Souvenirs are also available here.

The first rock formation that will be observed is the Trader's Cave, which is an extended rock overhang rather than a cave.

The Trader's Cave derives its name as this is the location where birds nest and guano traders conduct their business. All that are left here are roofless huts which were constructed by the birds' nest collectors and families during harvest seasons. Not far from here is the Great Cave

The foul stench of the guano is an indication that the Great Cave is not far away. This cave has one of the world's most spectacular cave entrance (60m high and 250m wide) which lead to an even larger chamber within.

Here is the cave layout. I was here 15 years ago but unfortunately I was unable to explore anywhere beyond the Great Cave. It took me 15 years to return to complete my unfinished business.

The cave is the oldest recorded human settlement in Southeast Asia where human remains dating to 40,000 years had been discovered here. The archeological site is located at the west mouth of the Great Cave.

The Great Cave offer one of the most spectacular view especially from the cave mouth out over the surrounding jungle and the jagged stalactites.

The passage (there are 2 passages to explore behind it) at the back of the Great Cave which lead to a large chamber known as "Padang" (Malay word for field). Beyond the Great Cave, the cave passage become pitch black and one need to be equipped with a flashlight (can be rented for RM 5 from the jetty) and gloves (as the guano is almost everywhere).

While at the Padang, there are shafts of sunlight stream down from the large holes in the cave to illuminate the bizarre rock formations found here

Exploring the caves is definitely not for the faint heart as the pitch dark surrounding coupled with the squeaking noise of the bats and swiftlets create a spooky atmosphere. The foul stench of the guano also don't make the journey any comfortable. Exploring the cave is not difficult as the plank walk within the cave will lead to the intended destination.

At the end of the Padang is Gan Kira. This is usually the place to stop and rest after exploring the pitch black caves.

Painted Cave, situated about 150 metres from Gan Kira has rock paintings dated as 1,200 years ago. The journey to Paint Cave from Gan Kira is not as pleasant as before because the wood plank here is not well maintained and on certain trail, it shakes!

Painted Cave also serve as the burial site although far more recent than those at the Great Cave. Most people only finish their journey at Gan Kira and too tired to venture further to the Painted Cave. It is worth spending some time here as the atmosphere is very tranquil.

The paintings here can be difficult to see but the management put up the close up photos for easy viewing by the public

Chalets is available at the near the Park Office to those who want to stay overnight here surrounded by nature's wonder.

Overall, one will need 4-5 hours to make a return journey from the Park Office to the caves. There are alternative activities too such as visiting a long house and taking a jungle trek (Jalan Bukit Kasut and Jalan Madu). I reckon one will need 8-9 hours if one is to explore the caves and exploring the jungle trails.

I also had an unfortunate event while I was here as my Olympus digital camera went dead and I had to rely on the Sony Ericsson mobile phone camera to capture these photos. Maybe it will be wise to carry a spare digital camera around next time.


xsigns said...

Instead of the boat ride, they should have just constructed a bridge to cross the Niah river. There will be a slight loss of revenue but it will be a great convenience in the end.

Borneo Falcon said...

I agree with the bridge construction. After all we paid RM10 for the entrance fee already.

Willie said...

Going to Niah and Mulu is still under planning for me and my family. Did u blog about Mulu too? I would love to get some info about that place.

Borneo Falcon said...

I have yet been to Mulu although that is in the pipeline. Will blog about it after been there one day

Josephine said...

The rates are different on peak and off-peak hours!

Benedict said...

Wow pretty interesting that the cave men in the ancient days could drew such nice graffiti despite living in darkness ... any theory posted how they able to do it?

Henry LeE ® said...

wow.. nice writing with nice pictures... i havent really been to a real cave before... just a small one during my school camp... and i finished the whole journey less than 15mins... lol~

hopeful said...

Great pictures here. I wish I could visit those places someday.

Xjion89 said...

wow, it seemed tat u hv a great adventure thre^^

foongpc said...

It must be nice to explore the caves! Though I think I would hate the smell of the guano!

KwOnG FeI said...

caves trekking.. nice..
i went to gua tempurung in perak but yet to cross over the sea to sarawak..
was wondering when i have sufficient money to visit east m'sia

Borneo Falcon said...

There is no explanation on drawings on the Painted Cave. However, the answer probably can be found at the gallery and museum (which I just kind of browse through)

Johnny Ong said...

wow niah cave ..... a must visit place but havent got the chance

JL said...

Wow that is one nice national park! Heard of it many times but never got to go there.

reanaclaire said...

seeing yr niah caves photos bring back memories for me... that was in 2003 if i m not mistaken when i went there...

i remember going there till the end and eventually saw a chicken like image ... if u know what i mean...haha

jam said...

Niah is one of my desired future destinations.

Superman said...

Nice review on niah. didn't know that is so much things there when I visit there 10 years ago. Should pay another visit they I think after reading your post.

Asian Traveler said...

Though it’s a little risky, cave exploring is a real adventure and appreciation of nature.

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