23rd April 2019 – Mulu NP HQ to Camp 5

Another great night’s sleep and a relatively late alarm call of 7.10 am. After breakfast we met up with Chris again who would lead us on the morning activities.

We boarded a long narrow boost with 4 of us in each and traveled 10 minutes upstream.  The water was pretty shallow in places and the driver weaved in and out to find the forest parts. Our first stop was at  Batu Bungan village, home to Penan people.

The villagers are still allowed to hunt animals even though it’s a national park as long as they are only for their own consumption. We saw education boards that have been set up for them to teach them about the dangers of forest destruction and the need to preserve the environment. We saw how the blow pipes used for hunting are made and also had a go firing (I was quite pleased that I got the target!)

Teaching the locals about conservation
About to fire…
The market
I’m sure I can hit the target

We got back into the boats and travelled another 10 minutes up the river. The river is write busy with long boats travelling in both directions.

The first cave to visit was the Cave of the Winds there was a steep walkway up to the cave. Inside the were long passageways which opened out into large impressive caverns with stalactites and stalagmites. It’s difficult to define and the photos certainly don’t do the scale justice. Inside we also came across a tall cavern with roof fallen in and you could see the vegetation and the sky outside.

After another short boat trip we reached Clearwater cave. The Clearwater cave system, which includes the Cave of the Winds, is currently known to be 225km long and is the 8th longest in the world. However, they’re still exploding and it may be that this record changes.

We walked the 200 steps up to the opening and then descended into a large cavern. Like the other caves, the tourist route is well laid out with concrete or wooden walkways and ambient lighting. The caves are all about 25 degrees and 95% humidity do needless to say you get very sweaty! We descended into the cave and saw the river running through the bottom. Again, there were amazing rock formations. We went up and down many more steps before eventually arriving back at the cave opening.

We descended back to the area where we left the boats. By now it was 11.30 and we are a prepared lunch that had been prepared for us of chicken, rice and vegetables, washed down with a coffee and water.


After lunch we continued upstream. The water was now very shallow in places and we need the help of the lad in the front of the boat to use a stick to push us along some of the narrowest bits. We’ve been warned that we may need to get out of it’s too shallow, but as I type this, we haven’t yet had to do it!

We managed to get all the way without having to get out of the boat and all too soon, we were arriving at the landing point for the start of our 8.5km walk to camp 5.

It was around 1pm when we eventually left and it was hot and humid. The forest provided shade from the sun but seemed to enhance the humidity! The track itself was quite well defined with stones mostly marking the edge and planks every so often where it was muddy. Nizam warned us to look out for leaches on our legs! Within 15 minutes, we were all a dripping sweaty mess!

After about 1km we arrived at the first of the two river crossings. It was a narrow walkway with ropes either side. We had to go one at a time so it took us a little while to all get across.

Crossing the river!

With that negotiated, we walked on. It started raining and whilst it sounded heavy, it didn’t really penetrate the canopy. The next stop, which Nizam informed us was about halfway, was the second crossing. This one was a bit higher and you had to walk to a slope to get to the crossing.

We walked on with just one more stop before the camp, just before an ‘up and down’ section. We eventually arrived at camp 5 after about 2 hours 45 minutes, at around 3.45pm.

Leech

The camp itself is in a clearing next to the river with an amazing backdrop of the Mulu pinnacles. There were loads of non-stinging bees eager to get at the salt on our sweaty bodies! After a quick coffee I went for a swim in the river. It was very refreshing and the coolish mountain water cooled me down quickly.

The camp itself is in a clearing next to the river with an amazing backdrop of the Mulu pinnacles. There were loads of non-stinging bees eager to get at the salt on our sweaty bodies! After a quick coffee I went for a swim in the river. It was very refreshing and the coolish mountain water cooled me down quickly.

The beds!

After changing we spent the next couple of hours chatting effort we waited for tea. This consisted of rice, chicken, vegetables and okra, with some layer cake that I had carried as a makeshift dessert.

Camp 5

The next adventure was putting up the mosquito nets. We’re song in dormitories with a raised platform for sleeping and a couple of thin mattresses to soften the hard wood. Having put the nets up, we mostly retired to our beds. It’s still only 8.10pm, but the exertions of the day and the fact that is still extremely warm means that staying still is probably the best option. Besides, tomorrow we tackle the 11.3km of the headhunters trail!

One thought on “23rd April 2019 – Mulu NP HQ to Camp 5

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  1. Think you need a medal for endurance! Can’t believe you actually pay for all that exhursion! The one thing us that you both seem to look happy and be enjoying yourselves – why I can’t imagine cut keep the commentaries coming, they are super. Take care my live xx

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