TREKS AND TRAILS IN MULU

Mulu has three adventure treks, all of which require a certain level of physical fitness. Basic camping gear is useful as overnight stays in jungle base camps are required. Trekkers must be accompanied by official park guide. Most tour operators can assist with travel arrangements for these treks and also can supply any necessary equipment and food.

The following sections provide brief details about each trek and its attractions:

The Pinnacles

The famous Pinnacles’ at Mulu consist of a series of 45 meter high, razor-sharp limestone spikes that tower above the surrounding vegetation, mid-way up the slopes of Gunung Api. The trek to view them is one of the most popular in the park. But be warned, the Pinnacle Summit Trek is a tough and challenging one. The trail itself is very steep (near vertically parts) and requires a certain level of fitness.

The Pinnacles Summit Trek is usually done as 3 day / 2 night trek although it is possible to do it as a 2 day / 1 night trek. The first stage is a 1-2 hour boat trip along the Melinau River to Kuala Berar. If the water level is low, the boat has to be pushed over rocky sections so the trips takes longer. Base Camp 5 is relatively easy 7.8 km walk from Kuala Berar, following flat jungle terrain and taking 2-3 hours. Camp 5 is situated near the Melinau Gorge which separates Gunung Benarat from Gunung Api. There is hostel –style accommodation at the camp, and cooking facilities. The Melinau River in front Of Camp 5 is Crystal clear and ideal for a swim after the trek from Long Berar.

The real hiking begins the following morning. The trails is 2.4 km in length but rises some 1,200 meters from Camp 5 to the viewpoint, passing through lowland dipterocarp forest before climbing steeply through moss forest. Here the trees are a lot smaller and everything is covered in slippery green moss. Limestone debris also litters the trail so trekkers must proceed with care. The last section of the trails near vertical, with rope section and 15 aluminums ladders strategically positioned to help with the climb. The vegetation is sparse although orchids, rhododendrons and pitcher plants thrive in the area, and can be seen at the side of the trail.

After some tough climbing you finally come out onto a rocky outcrop where the stunning views provides a good reward for all the effort. The viewpoint area is made up of a number of Pinnacles, rocks and vegetation. After taking some photos and a short rest and a last glimpse of the Pinnacles, it is time to begin the descent back to Camp 5 and the second overnight stay.

It is very difficult to put an exact time on how long it takes to trek to the Pinnacles’ viewpoint. Fit and experienced trekkers should be able to reach the top in 2-3 hours. The not so fit but to determine generally take around 4-5hours. Most people spend an hour or so at the top before coming down. For many the descent is actually more difficult and therefore takes longer, so the return trip can take anything from 5 to 10 hours depending on fitness level.

The Headhunter’s Trail

The Headhunter’s Trail is a great way of entering or leaving Gunung Mulu National Park. The trek is organizes by travel operators and combines upriver travel, jungle trekking and an overnight stay at an Iban longhouse. The trail itself follows the route taken by Kayan headhunting parties who paddled up the Melinau River to Melinau Gorge. They then dragged their longboats through the forest for 3 km until they reached the banks of the Terikan River, where they launched headhunting raids against the people of the Limbang area.

The basic trails route is as follows. First take a boat from the park HQ to Kuala Berar and then trek for 2-3hours to reach Camp 5. From Camp 5 follow the 11.3 km trail to Kuala Terikan., a 4-5 hour trek. Either rest or spend the night in the accommodation units at the ranger station at Ng. Metawai (about 15 minutes form Kuala Terikan), or travel by longboat for 3-4 hours (depending on boat engine and water level) to reach the longhouse (Rumah Bala Lesong). After an overnight stay the journey continues by boat downriver to Naga Medamit. From there it is possible to travel by road to Limbang.

The Headhunter’s Trail can also be done in reverse, starting from Limbang and ending up at the Park HQ. Either way the trek offers an excellent introduction to the rivers and rainforest of Mulu and the added attraction of a longhouse visit. As the treks include an overnight stay at Camp 5, most tour operators offer the option of climbing the Pinnacles as part of their Headhunter’s Trail package.

Gunung Mulu Summit Trek

The climb to the summit of Gunung Mulu (2,376 m) is the toughest organized trek in the park. It requires a high level of fitness and sense of adventure. Indeed, Gunung Mulu has always attracted adventures. In the 19th Century, Spenser St John and Charles Hose, two old “Borneo Hands”, attempted to conquer Mount Mulu. They and other explorers and mountaineers failed. It wasn’t until 1920’s, when a Berawan rhino hunter named ‘Tama Nilong’ discovered the ‘south-west’ ridge, that a way to the summit was found. In 1932, Tama Nilong led Lord Shackleton and an Oxford University Expedition to the summit of Mulu.

Today’s trek follows the route discovered in the 1920’s. It involves overnight stops at jungle camps and offers a chance to experience the rainforest and perhaps see some rare animals and birds, including various species of Hornbill. The trek is usually done as a 4 day hike, but experienced trekkers can do it in less. A number of wooden huts are positioned along the trail and provide shelter for overnights stops. Trekking schedule and overnight camping arrangements can be worked out beforehand with your guides. Trekkers should go prepared. Good walking shoes are essential, as is a sleeping bag (or blanket) as it can get cold. Food supplies, cooking utensils and sufficient water must also be taken. The park guides and travel companies can arrange this.

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