Friday, April 26, 2013

The Gunung Mulu National Park


nung Mulu National Park, a UNESCO declared World Heritage Site is situated in the Malaysian state of Sarawak in the remote interior of Borneo. The park is renowned the world over for its incredible biodiversity, its karst formations and its truly dramatic landscape that consists of wild rivers  like Melinau and Tutoh, which form the lifeblood of the park, rainforest-covered peaks, limestone apices and hidden cave passages.
The fantastic karst formations of the Gunung Mulu National Park are the result of a collapse process that is believed to have started more than 60 million years ago. Such is the magnificence of these karst formations, that the area is believed to be the most studied tropical karst area in the world. The densely, vegetated landscape of the park is dominated by Gunung Mulu, a 2,376 m-high sandstone peak which rises like a beacon from the midst of all the green.
The Gunung Malu Park extends over 52,864 verdant hectares and contains seventeen diverse vegetation zones populated by 3500 species of plants including 109 species of palms, 170 species of orchids and 10 species of the curiously shaped insect-eating pitcher plant. If you are a plant lover, then the Gunung Malu Park will appear as a heaven  to you, as much of the park is overrun by a lush canopy of mosses, ferns, orchids and leafy greens, in the midst of which many multi-colored butterflies play hide and seek.  All this dense foliage also hosts a wide array of fauna, like the world’s tinniest mammal, the Savi’s Pigmy along with legions of chattering macaques, bearded pigs, moon rats and some of the largest insects found on planet earth.
Aside from all this lush beauty that is visible above ground, the park also contains 295 km of explored cave systems that provide a wondrous sight and are the abode of millions of cave swiftlets and bats. The Sarawak Chamber, which measures 600 m by 415m and is 80 m high, is believed to be the largest known cave chamber in the world, capable of  accommodating 40 Boeing 747 aircraft. Other notable cave systems include the Deer Cave(once considered to be the single largest cave passage in the world), the Benaret Cave, the Wind Cave and the Clearwater Cave. The park offers various jungle treks and hikes including a trek through the dense jungle to Mount Api, a limestone peak  that hosts a multitude of tall limestone karst formations popularly known as ‘the Pinnacles’.

Getting to the park
The best way to get to the Mulu heritage park area is by air. The park area has its own airport and receives flights from destinations like Miri, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. If you are the adventurous sort, you can also choose to arrive at the park by navigating Baram, Tutoh and Melinau rivers via a series of boat rides though this method of transportation is not very reliable,e specially during the monsoon season. Other bravehearts have in the past walked to Mulu via the ‘The Headhunter’s Trail’ which trails down from the scenic town of Limbang on the Limbang River, near the northern section of the park. However this trail is rather secluded and even though it is well-marked, it can be disrupted by floods. Visitors who wish to access the park via this trail need to do so with the help of a licensed tour operator.

Fees
On arrival at the park, all visitors are expected to register and pay a ‘World Heritage Area Entry Fee’ levied by the Sarawak Government. This fee currently charged is RM30 per head and it offers access to the park for a five day period.

Accommodations within the park
The Gunung Mulu Park offers much to see and explore, so it is advisable to spend a few days in the park. Accommodations within the Mulu World Heritage Area are located at the Park headquarters that border the Melinau River.

Best time to visit
The best time to visit the Mulu World Heritage Area is during the dry months, between July to September. However, these are also the busiest months in the park so if you intend to visit at this time, you should reserve your accommodation and guide services in advance to avoid disappointment.

World Heritage Guides
A variety of guide services are available at the park, and it is recommended that you avail of these services for your various caving expeditions like trekking to explore the Wind Cave or hiking to the Deer Cave (known for its intense bat fights). Other expeditions on offer involve treks along the Melinau River to access the Wind and Clearwater caves and hikes through the dense rainforest to scale the summit of the Gunung Mulu pinnacle or then to view the beautiful Long Iman waterfall.
http://www.mulupark.com/index.htm

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