Gunung Mulu (Mt. Mulu) national park was on the top of my “places to visit” list when Neja and I were travelling around Borneo. It is located in north Borneo on Malaysian side of the island. It belongs to Sarawak state and it lies close to Brunei sultanate.There are plenty of activities to choose in the park and most of them must be booked in advance at the park HQ. We decided to stay five nights to fully experience the beautiful nature. Mulu is a bit more expensive than the other parks in Borneo, especially because of the transport there and back and the fact that most of the activities must be run by official guides. Sometimes it can be too touristy (especially the night walk and the regular cave tours), but you can still get the real rain forest experience.
The most convenient way to get there is by plane. The flight is not too expensive, but you should book your ticket in advance as it is often fully booked. We were flying with Air Malaysia and we booked online. The flight to Mulu is wonderful. It is short and it offers scenic views of the park. But unfortunately the primary rain forest is being cut day by day and you can watch the palm oil plantations in development as you fly from Miri to Mulu. Shocking.
Canopy walk of the Mulu NP is said to be one of the best in SE Asia. We were really looking forward to experience it! I disliked the idea that the only way to walk is in a guided group. But anyway, we booked the early tour, just when the sun rises in order to see more animals. The walk itself is amazing! You can actually see how does rain forest look like from the top of the trees in an easy and safe way. But the canopy walk is too busy with visitors and therefore it is very hard to spot any animals. We only saw a tree squirrel and a couple of bugs.
For most of the people the caves are the biggest draw in Mulu NP. The caves are magnificent indeed, but again, I was disappointed because the only way to visit the caves is with a guided tour. No tripods allowed – damn! Two reasons why we decided to visit the Niah caves NP later on – so stay tuned:)
Not allowed to photograph inside the caves I focused on details outside. This is a kind of one-leaf plant that grows in front of the caves at Mulu park.
The most popular trek at Mulu is to the pinnacles. It is a three day adventure that includes a visit to a local village, an exciting boat ride up the river, an easy walk to the camp, demanding climb to the pinnacles and on a third day the way back.
The boat ride was great! We spotted a few beautiful birds (including Hornbills) and magnificent Raja Brooke’s Birdwings (Trogonoptera brookiana). Not to mention a pleasant breeze in a hot tropical forest!
After a boat ride there is about 8 km walk through an interesting forest. Not demanding and there is a couple of suspension bridges to cross – always a big fun!
There were no other animals so I photographed this little fellow.
A tree detail.This is a kind of Ficus tree (yellow bark) that uses another tree for a support. Gradually it surrounds its supporter and it suffocates it. A slow but certain death!
On the day two we started to ascend to the pinnacles. The trail is only 2,4km short but the altitude difference is 1200m which makes it very demanding. At some places you have to climb and use ropes to get through! I wanted to catch a morning light so I started to walk much earlier than the others. On the top I was soaked with sweat and I drank almost three litres of water. The humidity makes climbing much harder than in more temperate places. It took me a bit more than two hours and I spotted two small Vipers and a squirrel.
This wonderful view was a proper reward for the hard climb! I enjoyed a silence for more than two hours until the others joined me. There was no nice morning light though. The pinnacles lay on a shady side of the mountain and the sun reached them later when the light was already too harsh. And there was no beautiful mists neither…
But still, the pinnacles are magnificient and it is definitelly worth to climb the mountain!
On the way back to the HQ we finally found a nice example of the Pitcher Plants. I have to thank Paul for this – he is one of the most interesting guys I met during my trip to Borneo! He is a biologist and he specialises in entomology – a true bug hunter – check out his galleries at Flickr!
Gunung Mulu offers some of the most fantastic natural wonders of Borneo, primary rain forest, mysterious caves, limestone pinnacles and rich plant life. Do not expect to see much wildlife though – the place is too busy with visitors and animals prefer to stay away from people. Neja and I had a great time during our visit, also because we met great people and with some of them we are still in touch even now when we are already back home.
And here is some literature we had during our trip: