endowed with vast numbers of limestone caves. Many are surrounded in
folklore and mystery and are home to some of natureís most fantastic and
beautiful sculptures. Archeological research has found evidence of early
man in many of these cave sites.
Although major expeditions
have been carried our by the Royal Geographical Society in London and
the British Caving Research Association, many caves are still not fully
explored and remain an alluring, enticing adventure for the nature
tourist. Repeat visitors marvel at how a cave can change within months
as the naturally humid Malaysian weather promotes faster stalagmite and
CAVES OF MALAYSIA
The majority of caves are
limestone and are above ground level. These include Gua Kelam in Perlis,
Gua Tempurung and Kundu in Perak, Batu Caves in Selangor and scattered
caves around Lake Kenyir in Terengganu and Gua Ikan in Kuala Krai,
Kelantan. Famous caves in Sarawak include the Painted Cave in Niah and
Fairy Cave in Bau. The Gomantong Caves is the most well know cave in
CAVES TO EXPLORE
Kuala Krai, Kelantan
Taat Cave, Bewah Cave
Doun Menari, Luas Cave,
Taman Negara, Pahang
Fairy Cabe, Wind Cave,
Great Cave, Painted
Niah National Park,
Sarawak Chamber, Deer
Cave, Green Cave, Clear Water Cave , Moon Cave , Turtle Cave
Mulu National Park,
or river caves in the Kinta Valley make up less than ten per cent of
local caves and are to be avoided during the rainy season. There are
also dolomite and sandstone caves scattered around the country.
caves can be divided into two categories: adventure and show caves.
Adventure caves which include Drunken Forest Cave and Leganís Cave are
caves which remain close to their natural state. Show caves such as
Deer, Lang and Clear Water Caves in Mulu National Park, Sarawak, are
those which have opened up for public, lights and walkways as well as
clearly marked paths and explanatory notes. Show caves are cleaner and
easier to access than more challenging adventure caves.
are home to many exotic living creatures. The most notable are the blind
catfish of Loaganís Cave and the Trapdoor Spider of Batu Caves.
skeleton of a big cat fossilised in the roof of Gua Harimau in Kinta
Valley makes an intriguing sight. Perak is also famous for its cave
temples. The most well known are Perak Tong and Sam Poh Tong which
contain many Buddha statues and religious cave murals.
cave temple in Batu Caves have shrines to the Hindu deities and is the
site for colourful religious festival of Thaipusam.
Gomantong Caves near Sandakan, Sabah house thousands of swifts which
nest in the two large caverns, producing birdsí nests, an exotic Chinese
Caves in Sarawak have walls which portray unique prehistoric paintings
which point to the existence of early Man. Its chambers have hundreds of
fascinating formations. The Mulu Caves in Sarawak is one of the longest
networks of caves in the world. Although 195 kilometres of cave passages
have already been surveyed, this represent just 30% of the estimated
total. An estimated four million bats live in this system of caves.
There are seasoned cavers
who will be willing to act as guides. They may be contacted through the
Malaysian Nature Society and through various nature adventure operators.
Tour operators will
arrange packages on request. Most caving expeditions are day trips
though a visitor can choose to stay overnight. No overnight camping is
allowed in most caves but budget hotels are available around most of the
Caving is normally done in
the dry season which runs from March to October. Permits may be required
when exploring some of the caves. These are available from the
respective state forestry departments and cost from RM10 to RM40.
WHAT TO WEAR AND
For the recreational
caver, all that is needed to explore adventure caves is a reliable
guide, safety helmet for protection and a powerful torchlight.
More experienced cavers
may want to bring their carbide lamps as well as harnesses, ascending
and descending equipment and carabineers if they plan to abseil.
Tropical caves are not as
damp as those in Europe and the Americas but they are chilly at times
especially during storms and heavy rain. A light jacket is also
As with all nature
adventures, preservation and conservation of stalagmites, stalactites
and all cave dwelling creatures are of utmost importance. In caves with
known inhabitants, avoid flash photography as the light frightens the
cave dwelling life forms.
Always go with a guide who can be hired from the National Parks or
from caving clubs. Many of Malaysiaís caves are unmapped and not even
an experienced caver should go exploring alone. Groups of four are
Although some operators offer cave diving, it is a highly specialized
sport and should only be undertaken by professional divers and cavers.
Always check equipment before venturing into a cave especially when
Experienced cavers recommend a maximum of eight hours in a cave at a
stretch but most caves take less than three hours to explore.
how much lighting you will need. One kilogram of carbide will give
enough illumination for approximately six to eight hours.
Cavers should always carry back-up torches and extra batteries.
patients and those suffering from claustrophobia should limit
themselves to show caves where guides take in groups of 20 to 40
Cavers should be free from allergies related to limestone and bat