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Mulu National Park ~ Treks & Climbs

The best way to experience adventure to appreciate the amazing variety of life in Mulu National Park is to go on jungle and mountain treks that require overnight stays at jungle camps. Whether you travel through the park on foot or by longboat you will interact with the local people, Ibans, Berawan, or the still nomadic Penans who live off the jungle.

Mulu has three adventure treks, all of which require a certain level of physical fitness and must be accompanied by official park guides. Trek arrangements and necessary equipment and food can be made with us.

If you feel really fit you can go on to the summit of Gunung Mulu, the toughest trek in the park, or to view the popular Pinnacles on Gunung Api. You can also do the Headhunter's Trail trek that combines upriver travel, jungle trekking and experience an overnight stay at an Iban longhouse

Gunung Mulu
The trek to the summit of Gunung Mulu (2, 376 m - Sarawak's second highest mountain) has always attracted adventurers, and trekkers will certainly be following in the footsteps of the famous. The first attempt on Gunung Mulu was made by Spencer St. John, the British consul in Brunei in 1856. His efforts were thwarted by ‘limestone cliffs, dense jungle and sharp pinnacles of rock’. A similar effort by , resident of Marudi. Dr. Charles Hose, who led a 25 day expedition in 1893, also ended in failure with his path blocked by 600m high cliffs. It will be another 50 years before a successful attempt was to be made.

Indeed, the first person to find a way to the top of Mulu was not a mountaineer or explorer; but a Berawan rhino hunter named Tama Nilong. In the 1920's, whilst following rhino tracks he discovered the 'south-west ridge' and a way to the summit. In 1932, it was this rhino hunter Tama Nilong, who successfully guided Edward Shakelton’s Oxford University Expedition to the summit. What is interesting is that one of the oxford undergraduates on that expedition was Tom Harrison, who later made the Niah archaeological discovery. The cliffs of the Melinau Gorge rise a sheer 600m, and are the highest limestone rock faces between Thailand and Papua New Guinea.

Gunung Mulu
Gunung Mulu Climb
The minimum time to allow for the climb is four days, three night; tents are not required if you stay at camps 1 and 2. the main summit route starts from the plank-walk at park HQ heading towards Deer Cave. The Mulu walkway forks left after about 1 km. From the headquarters it is an easy four to five hour trek to camp 1 at 150m, where there is a shelter. The second day is a long uphill slog 98 – 10 hours to camp 4 (1,800m) where there is also a shelter. Past camp 3, the trail climbs steeply to Bukit Tamau, which affords good views of the park. There are many pitcher plants along this stretch. From camp 4 (known as the summit camp), the path passes the helicopter pad, from which there are magnificent views of Gunung Benarat, the Melinau gorge and Gunung Api. The final trail to the summit is steep; there are fixed ropes. Around the summit area, the pitcher plants is common. From camp 4, it takes 11/2 hours to reach the summit and a further seven hours back down the mountain to camp 1

Camp 1 has water, as does camp 4, if it has been raining. Water should be boiled before drinking. It is necessary to bring your own food; in the rainy season it is wise to bring a gas cooking stove. A sleeping bag and waterproofs are also necessary and spare clothes wrapped in plastic bags are a good idea.

Razor sharp 'Pinnacles'The Pinnacles
The famous Pinnacles at Mulu consist of a series of 45 metre high razor sharp limestone spikes soar that tower above the surrounding jungle - these are the Pinnacles, a distinctive geological feature half way up face Mulu's Gunung Api. The Pinnacles can be reached by a three-day trek (though it is possible to do it In 2 Days) from Mulu National Park HQ in what can be described as a very challenging trek, where coming down is just as hard as the ascent. 

The Pinnacles Trek
It takes two to three hours boat ride, depending on the river level from Park HQ to Kuala Berar. It is then a two to three hour trek (8km), following flat jungle terrain, to camp 5. Visitors here are advised to plan their itinerary carefully as it is necessary to calculate how much food would be required. Camp 5 is situated next to the Melinau river, near the Melinau Gorge, which separates Gunung Benarat from Gunung Api. There is hostel-style accommodation at the camp, and cooking facilities. From the camp it is possible to trek up the gorge as well as to the pinnacles on Gunung Api.

The real hike begins the following morning. The trail is 2.4 km in length but rises some 1,200 metres from Camp 5 to the viewpoint, passing through lowland dipterocarp forest before climbing steeply through moss forest. Here the trees area 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 trail is nearly vertical. The final leg, through mist and across moss-covered rock is almost vertical using ladder, ropes and wooden pegs to climb. You will come out onto a rocky outcrop that provides a stunning view of pinnacles. After taking some photos and a short rest you will begin the descent back to camp 5 and the second overnight stay before returning back to Park HQ.

It is advisable to hire a longboat for the duration of your trip at and around camp 5. the boats has to be abandoned at Kuala Berar at the confluence of the Melinau and Berar river. Though it is only used for the first and last part of the trip, for safety it could prove crucial in the event of an emergency. There are no trails heading back to the Park HQ and there has been cases of fever stricken people stuck in the jungle.

Headhunters' Trail
The Headhunter's Trail is a great way of entering or leaving Gunung Mulu National Park. The trek combines upriver travel, jungle trekking and an overnight stay at an Iban longhouse.

The trail used in bygone days by local tribesmen moving from one river valley to another on headhunting raids, follows the route taken by Kayan headhunting parties who paddled up the Melinau River to the Melinau Gorge. They then dragged their war canoes 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. Rest assured, head hunting definitely has not been practiced in Sarawak for many, many years. But practiced it was in days gone by, as skulls hanging from the rafters of several longhouses will bear witness. Taking a head was a sign of manhood. One reason it became so popular was that no self-respecting maiden would consider a young man who had not taken a head.

The Trek
 The basic trail route, is a boat ride from Park HQ to Kuala Berar and followed by a 2-3 hours trek to Camp 5. From Camp 5 it takes another 4-5 hour trek following the 11.3 km trail to Kuala Terikan. Here you can either spend the night in the accommodation units at the ranger station at Ng. Mentawai (about 15 minutes from Kuala Terikan), or travel on by longboat for 3-4 hours (depending on boat engine and water level) to reach the longhouse (Rumah Bala Lesong). After A few glasses of tuak (rice wine) in a longhouse and you might get the older men relating tales of the grisly exploits of their not-too-distant ancestors.

After an overnight stay the journey continues by boat downriver to Nanga 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 trek includes an overnight stay at Camp 5, it can also offers the option of climbing the Pinnacles as part of their Headhunter's Trail Trek package.

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