Niah National Park situated in Miri, Sarawak. The caves consist of one big cave and some smaller caves. At the centre of the park, is Gunung Subis.
300 miles up the coast from Kuching, hidden in the forests of Miri are the Niah Caves and the surrounding park, spread over 3,140 hectares of peat swamp and dipterocarp forests and the massive limestone outcrops within which the caves are concealed. The caves consist of one big cave (the Great Cave) and some smaller caves. At the centre of the park, is Gunung Subis, 394m above sea level.
FLORA & FAUNA
The limestone vegetation is predominantly represented by the Balsaminacea and Begoniaceae species. Peat swamp vegetation and dipterocarp forests dominate the lowlands with fig plants Ficus, found in abundance. The crown of these plants shades the tiny seedlings on the forest floor and keep them moist to ensure their survival. The mischievous and opportunistic long-tailed macaques, ever on the look-out for food to forage, are conspicuously to be seen and heard in the forest. Birds such as Bulbuls, Tailor birds, Crested wood partridge, Trogons and Hornbills are easily spotted by their exotic and brightly coloured plumes. Look out for the nocturnal Barred eagle owl and Bay owl which also inhabit the forest. The great Woolly Horse shoe bat can be found in the caves and crevices in which they roost. Another interesting inhabitant is the Bornean tarsier, a Nocturnal primate which feeds on insects and small vertebrae animals. There are also squirrels and Flying lizards and a large population of Swiftlets.
PLANNING AN ITINERARY
A side from visiting the caves, visitors can find a lot of interesting things to do and see.
Exploring The Caves
The caves are accessible via a 3km pathway, part of which consists of a raised plank walk through lowland forest. The walk to the caves can therefore be an interesting activity in itself if you enjoy observing the variety of plant lif and birds and insects along the path.
The Great Cave
The discovery of the oldest human remains in Southeast Asia along with other pre-historic relics in this cave, makes this Borneo’s most important archeological site. The relics point to the existence of human activity in this area almost 40,000 years ago. However, the cave is now home to the bats which deposit their droppings or Guano, a rich source of fertiliser, on the cave floor and the swift lets whose edible nests are greatly favoured for their medicinal value.
The Painted Cave
An interesting feature of this cave is the red hematite painting of human-like figures drawn on the rocks. The painting dates back at least 1,000 years. The cave itself seems to have served as an ancient grave site as evidenced by the boat-shaped coffins containing the bodies of the dead.
Explore the jungle trails and get a feel of the tropical forest – see what makes it tick. There are two clearly marked trails you could follow, namely ‘Jalan Bukit Kasut’ and ‘Jalan Madu’. So, pack some snacks and drinks and go uncover the secrets of the jungle!
The Ibans are reputedly skilled craftsmen and a visit to their longhouse nearby is bound to fascinate you. See the wide range of fine and beautifully made handicraft and ordinary household items for daily use and you will marvel at the intricate designs and clever colour combinations.
Scale the 400m high limestone ridge for a bit of adventure! You might not be the first one to reach the summit, but it sure is exciting and exhilarating; and something to tell he others back home.
Collection Of Bird’s Nests
Usually carried out between August to December and January to March each year, this is one activity that attracts a lot of interest. Local gatherers climb up tall “ladders” to reach the bird’s nests high up in the caves. The nests are valued for the medicinal properties of the bird’s saliva binding the nest. Boiled with rock sugar it makes a highly potent, not to mention delicious brew!
Visit To Batu Niah Town
If the fancy takes you, stroll along the river bank and explore the local haunts in Batu Niah town. You could also rent a boat to get there but that would mean missing out on some quaint things along the way.
Accommodation consists of chalets and hostel-style rooms with electricity and shower. However, cooking facilities are not available. Please contact the National Parks Booking Office in Miri for the room rates and to make reservations. If you need to stay in Batu Niah (to catch an early bus, for example), there are a range of lodging houses and small hotels. Batu Niah is a bustling little township where you can find coffee shops and restaurants.
Niah is within easy reach of Bintulu (131km) and Miri (109km). Visitors can charter taxis from Miri City, which will take them to the national park. Rental cars are also available, visitors can enquire at their hotels or refer to the Yellow Pages. They can also take an express bus from Miri or Bintulu to Simpang Ngu and from there, take a taxi straight to the national park. Another option is to join the guided tours offered by local tour operators.