All cave visits at Mulu are guided and chargeable. This is to ensure that the caves are well protected. The rules are very strict and tripods are prohibited, which makes photography in the low light very difficult. There are two types of guided cave walks. One is visit to the show caves and the other is adventure caving.
Show caves are caves are that lit, have boardwalk and generally accessible by all. Adventure caving are for those who are fit, preferably have some caving experiences and are prepared to get wet and dirty.
I decided to get a mix of both experiences, mainly show cave visits plus an easy cave adventure to the exotic sounding Garden of Eden.
Our Garden of Eden adventure began at 12 noon. We walked through the forest to Deer Cave. Our guide, a pretty young lady named Heidi Wilson pointed out various plants and wildlife along the way – a green snake with blue tongue, a giant scorpion, lizards…
Deer cave is a huge cave and famous for the evening showcase of bat exodus. It is also famous for the silhouette of Abraham Lincoln’s face.
Midway through Deer Cave, we exited the boardwalk into darkness, with only Heidi and the torch on our foreheads to guide us. We climbed through rocks, weary of the bats hanging overhead us and conscious of the powdery guano beneath our sweaty palms as we hoisted ourselves up the rocks. At one point, Heidi asked if anyone of us are afraid of cockroaches. I put up my hand, looking about me uneasily. She calmly said, ‘ok, don’t look up!’ And of course I did. All over the rocks above, and later over the banisters of the boardwalk are millions of golden cockroaches called earwigs which feed on the guano. (These earwigs cling on to your shirt and socks and eventually follow you out to the lighted world unfamiliar to them).
It was good to be taken out of our comfort zone, for although the track was not difficult, one has to be rather agile and fit to squeeze through crevices and climb up steep slope, navigate shallow streams and balance on cliff edges. What may appear to be a no-through road in front, Heidi would somehow make us go though until we see a whole new world. And that’s how we arrived at a cavernous cave with a stream and a pond leading out to a forest – Garden of Eden.
After we spent some time swimming and resting at the pond, we backtracked (rocks, guano, earwigs, etc) to where we stepped off the boardwalk and exited Deer Cave for Lang Cave, another show cave just next to Deer Cave for its amazing jellyfish stalactites and stalagmites.
At five pm, we exited Lang cave and congregated at a podium, where a crowd had already gathered, all looking excitedly upwards. Soon, a snake-like shadow appeared in the sky. The bat exodus had begun. Three million bats exit Deer Cave every evening without fail in such string like order and the show only ends around dusk as the last bat leaves for its hunt for food.
That concluded our simple cave adventure, which was both exciting and tiring.