Deep in the Jungle of Borneo

11 06 2009

After we left Indonesia, our next destination was the rainforest of Borneo.  I think that all of us (or at least some of us) at some point have wanted to see just how exactly Tarzan or Maugli lived and this was an opportunity to explore one of the few remaining jungle environments in the world.

Borneo is the 3rd largest non-contintal island in the world and is divided between 3 countries: Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

We headed to a national park called Gunung Mulu, located in Sarawak – Malaysian side of the Borneo. Mulu is a pretty inaccessible area; the only practical way of getting to and from it is by air. It is possible to travel to the area by riverboat, but it requires a chartered long boat for the last part – and the whole trip by river would take around 12 hours to complete. So we decided to fly in and then hike out (by walking and taking the boat part of the way) out of the park.

I think that it is one of those places where pictures will do more justice than words. Hope you like them!

Fauna: Our Friends in the Jungle

The diversity and abundance of various insects, bugs and other creepy-crawlers was amazing (at least now that you think about it from a comfortable bed – when you havve things crawling on you whenever you’re asleep or awake, they are not so amazing anymore). Below are just a few examples of what we managed to capture on camera.

This little fellow tried to hide from us by disguising as a twig. But we found him!

This little fellow tried to hide from us by disguising as a twig. But we found him and got him on camera!


One of the many, many flying insects that were always around. This guy wasn't too thrilled about us being on his territory, as you can see in his look.


Sorokonozhka, we think... haven't counted the legs, though.


Another one. This one was trying to climb towards us.




It looks like a grasshoper, but who really knows!


What subway rats are for the New York MTA system, these guys are for the jungle - they are everywhere, big and small.


Not sure what this is... but at least, it doesn't try to bite you.


These guys, on the other hand, do bite! We wound up spending the night next to a bee hive - fortunately, they went away as the evening came (afraid of the bats).


A little close up. These guys are attracted to sweat - which made it tough considering that we spent the most of the day hiking!

Flora – Peak Under the Jungle Canopy

Even the camera had a hard time capturing the overall environment, so these are just some specific bits and pieces.


It's very tough to capture the surroundings on camera. The sheer amount of vegetation is astounding. It is simply so GREEN.


Beautiful flowers.


The Forbidden Fruit


Mushrooms - also forbidden 🙂

River and The Boat Ride

Our plan was  to fly in to the rainforest on one end and then trek our way to another side of it.  In order to cover the distance, we had to hire several local boat to take us up the river.


We had several boats to take ,in all - combined, they added up to about 8 hours on the river.


The color of the water is always brown and murky from the sediments.


River flowing through the rainforest.


The water level was quite low, so we often got stuck on the rocks. To get out, we had to come out of the boat and push it through and then get back in.


One of the views from the boat.


The park is famous for its caves and the expeditions that have been mounted to explore them. Mulu’s Sarawak Chamber is the largest natural chamber in the world, and Deer Cave is the largest cave passage known to man. According to the guides it is big enough to fit St. Peter’s Basilica or several jumbojets inside.


From the inside the cave


Entrance from the outside


Stalactites... or is it Stalagmites. Damn, I can never remember.


While the caves are interesting on their own, the best part is what happens at night – when the sun comes down. One of the caves, the Deer Cave, is home to over 2 million bats, who come out on their feeding rounds every evening at dusk. Apparently, the bats leaving Deer Cave consume over 50 tonnes of insects every night, and may travel 50km in search of food.

It is really quite an amazing sight. I highly recommend that you check out the two videos below to see it:

Video 1: Bats Coming Out of Deer Cave

Video 2: Close Up

Finish Line – The Predators of the Jungle

When we finished our trek through the rainforest and the river, we came out to a small little village where we had to catch a van going to the closest town.

While waiting, we got some food at a  street vendor and immediately got surrounded by the local predators:

Cats 1

Judging by the sounds these guys were making, they meant business.

Cats 2

They may look cute and cuddly, but you just try NOT to give them a chicken bone...




8 responses

11 06 2009

i would definitely die in borneo from the bees alone.

11 06 2009

Yep. I agree. I feel like taking a shower all over again 🙂

It’s interesting how these bats fly in this weird wavy line.

11 06 2009

Wow! Such amazing pictures!

11 06 2009

I will read it more attentively later, but looking at the pictures, Borya, I must say again what a brave man you are!

12 06 2009

The bats are quite cool indeed. They come out in batches too… once one batch leaves, the other one comes out. And again and again until all 2 million of them are out.

Shirin… ti eto zrya 🙂

27 06 2009

Ever wish now that you had that bag to put over your head at night? And I don’t mean in order to stop scaring the cats either when they realize you’re still there. Creepies.

27 06 2009

Frances, … sometimes 🙂

8 08 2010

Hey Boris

I am just back from Gunung Mulu . I saw the bats leave the cave but I had to walk into the park 4 nights in a row before I did. Apparently the little fellows don’t like to fly in the rain; they don’t want to get their wings wet. Did you stay in the park or the resort? We stayed at the resort, which was very flash but a bit expensive. Where exactly did you hike to and from? Did you do the hike to the pinnacles?



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