Trekking in Gunung Mulu National Park
Nothing beats trekking in the rainforest! Photo by Greg Rodgers.
Feeling hardcore and serious about some trekking in Borneo? Gunung Mulu National Park should be your first stop. The Mulu Caves in Sarawak get a lot of attention, but nothing can beat the trekking there!
Three big treks are available in Gunung Mulu National Park in Northern Sarawak. They all require that you hire a guide and possess a good level of fitness. Basic camping and cooking gear along with food and water are necessary if you plan to do an overnight in the jungle base camps. Rain protection and spare clothing wrapped in plastic bags come in very handy; Borneo is one of the wettest places in Southeast Asia.
Preparing for the treks once already on the road can be a little tricky, but it is indeed some well-earned adventure.
- Go learn about Gunung Mulu National Park.
Gunung Mulu Summit
The toughest trek in the park is the climb to the summit of Gunung Mulu (2,376 m). The trek usually takes four days, but if you are an experienced hiker it can be done in less. Four wooden shelters or camps in assigned areas along the trail are used for overnight stops. Camp 1 and 4 have drinking water if it has been raining previously. Water should always be boiled anyway before drinking.
Along the trail, you will experience the beauty of the rainforest and perhaps see some rare plants, animals, and birds including some rare species of hornbills.
The famous Pinnacles in Gunung Mulu National Park consist of a series of 45-metre-high, razor-sharp limestone spikes surrounded by the rainforest. The Pinnacles can be reached by a three-day trek, but it is possible to finish the trek in two days from Mulu National Park HQ. This is an extremely challenging trek; the ascent is equally as hard as the descent.
The first part of the Pinnacles trek must be done by boat, from park HQ to Kuala Berar. The boat has to be abandoned at Kuala Berar at the intersection of the Melinau and Berar Rivers. After eight kilometres of a jungle trek, you will reach the Camp 5 where you find overnight accommodation and cooking facilities. From Camp 5 to the view point is only 2.4 kilometres, but the trek rises some 1,200 metres! The trek at this stage gets very slippery so good hiking shoes are necessary. The final stage of the trail is nearly vertical, using ladder, ropes, and wooden pegs to climb. The climb is worth the effort once you catch your breath at the viewpoint and see these magnificent limestone creations of nature.
A second overnight stay can be arranged in the Camp 5. Careful planing is necessary when it comes to the amount of food and water to carry.
The Headhunter’s Trail is the best way of entering or leaving Gunung Mulu National Park. The trail was used by the local tribesman moving from one valley to another on head-hunting invasions!
Head hunting has not been practised for some time in Sarawak, but it is believed that many of the longhouses still keep the skulls as a reminder of good old times when the men were respected only if they had some head-taking experience under their belts.
The trek consists of travelling by boat from the Gunung Mulu National Park HQ to Kuala Berar and followed by jungle trekking to Camp 5 for about three hours. Here you can spend an overnight with a possibility of an additional trek to the Pinnacles. Another four to five hour trek has to be completed before you reach the ranger station at Mentawai – another overnight option.
If you wish to spend the night in an Iban longhouse (Rumah Bala Lesong), you will have to take another boat ride for approximately three to four hours. On the following day the boat brings you to Nanga Medamit. From there it is possible to travel by road to Limbang. This trek can also be done in reverse.