Niah National Park

Caving

Niah Cave a collective name for 8 main caves located within Niah-Subis limestone massif.

The Walk to Great Cave

The Walk to Great Cave

____________

The Great Cave is approximately 3.1 km from the park headquarters and is easily reached via the plank walk which is surrounded by dense primary rainforest. The stroll along plank walk is fascinating as you pass by benuang trees (Octomeles sumatrana) with their enormous buttressed roots, padanus plants twice the size of a person, exquisitely formed orchids and tree fungi.

Walking quietly along the way, you may see some of the park’s wildlife such as colourful birds, squirrels, lizards, butterflies, unusual insects and invertebrates. If you are lucky, you may see flying lizards.

The first significant rock formation you reach is the Trader’s Cave, which is really an extended rock overhang rather than a proper cave. This is where the traders for birds’ nest and guano conducted their business in days gone by, hence the name.

A few minutes later, the West Mouth of the Great Cave comes into view and you are left in no doubt that this cave deserves its name. At over 60m high and 250m wide, it is one of the world’s most spectacular cave entrances, leading to an even larger chamber within. The view from the cave mouth out over the surrounding jungle is quite unique as the jagged stalactites and dangling creepers on the cave mouth make a dramatic frame for a very memorable photo.

On the left of the cave mouth, the archaeological excavations are clearly visible.

Proceeding into the cave, the sound of disembodied voices mingles with the squeaking of millions of bats and swiftlets, creating an eerie atmosphere. The voices belong to the guano collectors, who toil by the light of paraffin lamps to collect the guano (bird and bat excrement) covering the cave floor. The guano is then carried in sacks to the Sungai Niah, where it is graded and sold as fertiliser.

The Walk to Moon Cave

The Walk to Moon Cave

_____________

The passage at the back of the Great Cave leads to a large chamber known as the Padang, where shafts of sunlight stream down from large holes in the cave roof to illuminate the bizarre rock formations in the cave. After the Padang, you enter a totally dark passage known as Gan Kira (Moon Cave). This is where the torch (flashlight) is essential – not only to find your way but also to admire the remarkable rock shapes and weathering effects.

The Walk to Painted Cave

The Walk to Painted Cave

_______________

Shortly after the Gan Kira (Moon Cave), the plank walk emerges into daylight and a short pathway through the forest leads to the Painted Cave. This is the site of the famous Niah cave paintings and the place where the ‘death-ships’ were found. The contents of the death-ships have since been transferred to the Sarawak Museum, but the cave paintings and some of the empty death-ships can still be viewed on the wall behind the fenced-off burial site.

The paintings can be difficult to see unless you allow your eyes to become accustomed to the light. They are rendered in red hematite and cover a long narrow strip (approximately 30m) at the back of the cave wall. They portray spread-eagled human figures, probably representing warriors and hunters, some of the animals of the surrounding forest, and most importantly, longboats carrying the souls of the deceased on the dangerous journey to the land of the dead.

Although the burial site at the Painted Cave is far more recent than those at the Great Cave, it is also important as it offers a clear insight into the development of the traditional religions of Borneo. It is worth spending some time at the Painted Cave, as the atmosphere of the place is very tranquil and relaxing. It is easy to understand why Niah’s earlier inhabitants felt it was a suitable resting place for their ancestors.

The Walk to Traders’ Cave

The Walk to Traders’ Cave

_______________

Some 70 years ago, Traders’ Cave was a market during bird nest collecting season. Food was obtained using bird nests as payment. Structural remains of ancient of ancient “roofless huts” made of ironwood (belian) can still be observed. This is the first cave one would enter before arriving at the Great Cave.

Niah National Park - Bird

Bird ’s Nest

Half million swiftlets that live in the cave make their nests purely from their own…

Read More

 Bird ‘s Nest

_________

Half million swiftlets that live in the cave make their nests purely from their own salivary secretions. When the nests are cleaned and cooked, they are known as the famous birds nest soup, which is as highly regarded in Chinese cuisine as caviar is in the West. You will notice strategically positioned bamboo poles and ladders in the cave buried vertically. Birds nest collector will then climb up the bamboo ladders to harvest the birds nest. Local people have practiced this dangerous occupation for generations to earn a living.

Niah National Park

Trekking

There are 5 well maintain trails (Madu Trail, Bukit Kasut Trail, Great Cave Trail, Painted Cave Trail, Tangap’s Trail – Trail lead to homestay Rh.Panjang Patrick Libau) which gives access to Niah’s place of interest. Trekking range from easy to tough. The trails are well marked, for tough trails we marked with colours . The trails are as below:

Madu Trail

Madu Trail

_____

This trail (red and white markings) sticks quite close to the banks of the Sungai Subis, a tributary of the Sungai Niah. It takes roughly 1 ½ hours walk, 15 minutes walk to reach Jalan Madu junction from jetty and passes through both alluvial and peat swamp forest. There are plenty of wild orchids, bizarre mushrooms and giant pandanus plants along the side of the trail.

Bukit Kasut Trail

Bukit Kasut Trail

________

This trail (green and white markings) leads to the summit of Bukit Kasut. Almost 1 hour from end of Madu Trail walk passes through beautiful primary rainforest before moving into Kerangas forest at the foot of the hill. You will also see some fascinating cliff vegetation clinging tenuously in the steep limestone slopes. The trail is a little steep but the view at the top is worth it, offering a sweeping panorama of the rainforest canopy.

Great Cave Trail

The Walk to Great Cave

____________

The Great Cave is approximately 3.1 km from the park headquarters and is easily reached via the plank walk which is surrounded by dense primary rainforest. The stroll along plank walk is fascinating as you pass by benuang trees (Octomeles sumatrana) with their enormous buttressed roots, padanus plants twice the size of a person, exquisitely formed orchids and tree fungi.

Walking quietly along the way, you may see some of the park’s wildlife such as colourful birds, squirrels, lizards, butterflies, unusual insects and invertebrates. If you are lucky, you may see flying lizards.

The first significant rock formation you reach is the Trader’s Cave, which is really an extended rock overhang rather than a proper cave. This is where the traders for birds’ nest and guano conducted their business in days gone by, hence the name.

A few minutes later, the West Mouth of the Great Cave comes into view and you are left in no doubt that this cave deserves its name. At over 60m high and 250m wide, it is one of the world’s most spectacular cave entrances, leading to an even larger chamber within. The view from the cave mouth out over the surrounding jungle is quite unique as the jagged stalactites and dangling creepers on the cave mouth make a dramatic frame for a very memorable photo.

On the left of the cave mouth, the archaeological excavations are clearly visible.

Proceeding into the cave, the sound of disembodied voices mingles with the squeaking of millions of bats and swiftlets, creating an eerie atmosphere. The voices belong to the guano collectors, who toil by the light of paraffin lamps to collect the guano (bird and bat excrement) covering the cave floor. The guano is then carried in sacks to the Sungai Niah, where it is graded and sold as fertiliser.

Painted Cave Trail

The Walk to Painted Cave

_______________

Shortly after the Gan Kira (Moon Cave), the plank walk emerges into daylight and a short pathway through the forest leads to the Painted Cave. This is the site of the famous Niah cave paintings and the place where the ‘death-ships’ were found. The contents of the death-ships have since been transferred to the Sarawak Museum, but the cave paintings and some of the empty death-ships can still be viewed on the wall behind the fenced-off burial site.

The paintings can be difficult to see unless you allow your eyes to become accustomed to the light. They are rendered in red hematite and cover a long narrow strip (approximately 30m) at the back of the cave wall. They portray spread-eagled human figures, probably representing warriors and hunters, some of the animals of the surrounding forest, and most importantly, longboats carrying the souls of the deceased on the dangerous journey to the land of the dead.

Although the burial site at the Painted Cave is far more recent than those at the Great Cave, it is also important as it offers a clear insight into the development of the traditional religions of Borneo. It is worth spending some time at the Painted Cave, as the atmosphere of the place is very tranquil and relaxing. It is easy to understand why Niah’s earlier inhabitants felt it was a suitable resting place for their ancestors.

Tangap Trail

Trail to Rh Panjang Patrick Libau

_______________

Tangap trail located next to local souvenir stall with approximate distance of 900m to Rh.Panjang Patrick Libau. At this destination visiitors will have a chance to learn moreon iban’s culture and their traditional way of living

Niah National Park

Flora and Fauna

It is worth taking your time and walking quietly along the way, as you may well see some…

Read More

Flora and Fauna

___________

It is worth taking your time and walking quietly along the way, as you may well see some of the park’s wildlife. If you leave the Great cave and return along the plank walk around clouds intermingling, you can see half a million of swiftlets are returning to their nests.

Diversity richness of Flora and Fauna

75 sp. Of mammal (i.e 23 sp of bats and 16 endemic to Borneo)

Identified as habitat of remaining population of Naked bats (Cheiromeles torquartus) in Sarawak.

241 sp. Of birds (57 near threatened)

104 sp. Of reptilian & anphibian (10 endemic)

334 sp. Of tree from 100 family identified.