Overnight recommended at the Park Headquarters (private room) as otherwise, it is a 3 hour drive and a 3 hour walk all in one day, with little time for relaxation or sight-seeing.
Please see 2D/1N Niah Caves Tour for more details.
|General InformationThree hundred miles up the coast from Kuching, hidden in the forests of Miri are the Niah Caves and the surrounding park, spread over 3,140 hectares of peat swamp and dipterocarp forests and the massive limestone outcrops within which the caves are concealed. The caves consist of one big cave (the Great Cave) and some smaller caves. At the centre of the park, is Gunung Subis, 394 metres above sea level.
FLORA AND FAUNA
The limestone vegetation is predominantly represented by the Balsaminaceae and Begoniaceae species. Peat swamp vegetation and dipterocarp forests dominate the lowlands with fig plants Ficus found in abundance. The crown of these plants shades the tiny seedlings on the forest floor and keep them moist to ensure their survival.
The mischievous and opportunistic long-tailed macaques, ever on the look-out for food to forage, are conspicuously to be seen and heard in the forest. Birds such as the Bulbuls, Tailor birds, Crested wood partridge, Trogons and Hornbills are easily spotted by their exotic and brightly coloured plumes. Look out for the nocturnal Barred eagle owl and Bay owl which also inhabit the forest. The great Woolly Horse shoe bat can be found in the caves and crevices in which they roost. Another interesting inhabitant is the Bornean Tarsier, a Nocturnal primate which feeds on insects and small vertebrae animals. There are also squirrels and flying lizards and a large population of Swiftlets.
PLANNING AN ITINERARY
Aside from visiting the caves the visitor can find a lot of interesting things to do and see.
‘Exploring” The Caves The caves are accessible via a 3 km pathway, part of which consists of a raised plank walk through lowland forest. The walk to the caves can therefore be an interesting activity in itself if you enjoy observing the variety of plant life and birds and insects along the path.
The Great Cave The discovery of the oldest human remains in Southeast Asia along with other pre-historic relics in this cave, makes this Borneo’s most important archeological site. The relics point to the existence of human activity in this area almost 40,000 years ago. However, the cave is now home to the bats which deposit their droppings or guano, a rich source of fertiliser, on the cave floor and the swiftlets whose edible nests are greatly favoured for their medicinal value.
The Painted Cave An interesting feature of this cave is the red hematite painting of human-like figures drawn on the rocks. The painting dates back at least 1,000 years. The cave itself seems to have served as an ancient grave site as evidenced by the boat-shaped coffins containing the bodies of the dead.
Forest Trails Explore the jungle trails and get a feel of the tropical forest – see what makes it tick! There are two clearly marked trails you could follow, namely ‘Jalan Bukit Kasut’ and ‘Jalan Madu’. So pack some snacks and drinks and go uncover the secrets of the jungle!
Iban Longhouse The Ibans are reputedly skilled craftsmen and a visit to their longhouse nearby is bound to fascinate you. See the wide range of fine and beautifully made handicraft and ordinary household items for daily use and you will marvel at the intricate designs and clever colour combination.
Mountain Climbing Scale the 400 meter high limestone ridge for a bit of adventure! You might not be the first one to reach the summit, but it sure is exciting and exhilarating; and something to tell the others back home.
Collecting Of Birds’ Nests Usually carried out between August to December and January to March each year, this is one activity that attracts a lot of interest. Local gatherers climb up tall “ladders” to reach the birds’ nests high up in the cave. The nests are valued for the medicinal properties of the bird’s saliva binding the nest. Boiled with rock sugar it makes a highly potent, not to mention delicious brew!
Visit To Batu Niah Town If the fancy takes you, stroll along the river bank and explore the local haunts in Batu Niah town. You could also rent a boat to get there but that would mean missing out on some quaint things along the way.