Food Adventures in Malaysia: Day 13, Clearwater Cave in Gunung Mulu National Park
After an amazing experience in Mulu’s Wind Cave, we piled back in our river boat and headed up to Clearwater Cave. Clearwater Cave is Asia’s longest cave, measuring over 175 km long (that’s 108.7 miles)! Clearwater Cave has a river running through it, which is ever increasing the length of the cave. I had never been in a cave with a river in it before, so I was really looking forward to the visit. Though the park offers adventure caving guided packages, my time and budget restraints only permitted the general public quick tour. Still well worth the experience, limited as it was.
Clearwater Cave Picnic Area
Before climbing the 200+ stairs up to the mouth of the cave, our guide gave us the opportunity to wait and rest at the cave’s picnic area along the Melinau river. The scenery was beautiful with all the lush tropical vegetation, the vibrant green river, and the sounds of the jungle. The large deck area was built out of iron wood, a natural hardwood tree native to the park. Just below the main cave entrance, some of the subterranean river bubbles out of the rock and joins the Melinau river, as seen in the center right of this picture I took:
Rather than cutting down trees that are where boardwalk areas are to be constructed, like they do in the USA’s national parks, Mulu’s park rangers just build around their trees. The skill to cut each board perfectly around the angular trunks of this tree is impressive.
Alexander, the adorable 3-year old blond German boy in our group, discovered a large lizard at the base of the tree. He laughed and squealed as he chased it round and round the tree. The thing was big enough to bite his hand off, so everyone nervously yelled at him as he reached to grab it.
I was equally interested in the mushrooms growing overhead. What were they? They looked similar to conks, but were clustered together kind of like maitake. Tropical mushrooms are not my forte, but I stood there for a while wondering if they were edible and delicious.
Entering the Mouth of Clearwater Cave
The hot climb up the stairs was completely worth it. As soon as we reached the top, we were greeted by an enormous hole in the ground. I had never seen such a large cave! The people below looked like little ants moving along the trail. Our guide stopped us to point out the the “teeth” like stalactites along the mouth of the cave. He also noted that there is a rare orchid that grows just above them on the cliff wall. The orchid is unique to Mulu. It wasn’t in bloom during my visit, but it would have been cool if it was.
Inside Clearwater Cave in Mulu
As we climbed down into the mouth of this beast, the sounds and misty air from the river began to be apparent. I was excited to see it. But our guide had us stop to look at a cool formation of “spikes” growing on the wall. They were formed from algae growing towards the sunlight coming from the cave entrance. That constant “pulling” actually pulls the limestone with it over hundreds of years, forming little spikes of rock. They were only about a centimeter long, but looked really cool pulling the rock towards the sun.
The main cavern of the cave was very large, too large for my little camera flash to do any good, so I wasn’t able to get many pictures of anything. But I can tell you that the river was much larger than I anticipated, and was pretty swift. There was mist everywhere from the water constantly crashing into the cave walls. That cool mist felt extremely refreshing compared to the hot humidity outside. I was successful in getting a few shots of the bridge that crossed over the rushing river. Once across the bridge, the trail leads along the river bank for a couple hundred meters and then ends at a narrow tube of nothing but water and rock. How cool. It made me want to get in a raft and travel the rest of the cave, but our guide assured me that that particular activity is too dangerous to participate in.
Lady Cave in Gunung Mulu National Park
Adjacent to Clearwater Cave is Lady Cave. It is a smaller section of the same cave system, and was easier to get pictures in. It was pretty, and the park had it lit up well.
The Bald Gourmet travels to Gunung Mulu National Park and visits Clearwater Cave and Lady Cave.