After spending a day exploring Miri (click here to read my blog post on Miri), it was time to proceed with our main mission of the trip which is to conquer the Niah National Park. Located about 110km from Miri City Centre, Niah National Park is famous for its role as one of the birthplaces of civilisation in the region. According to Sarawak Forest Department, the oldest modern human remains discovered in Southeast Asia were found at Niah, making the park one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.
By 8am my friend and I were all set to start the 110km, 90 minutes’ drive.
I am so used to driving on smooth and well-maintained highway, so it was kind of nice to travel on normal road that comes with holes and bumps here and there. The kind of drive that can really test your manoeuvring skills in avoiding potholes and overtaking busses and lorries.
Located on the Sungai Niah, Niah National Park is the famous attraction for visitors to Miri. According to Sarawak’s Forest Department, the park was first gazetted as a National Historic Monument in 1958, gazetted as National Park on 23 November 1974 and was published to the public on 1 January 1975.
The Niah National Park HQ. Visitor has to pay RM10 of conservation fee and register before the start of the journey.
A 1 minute boat ride marks that start of the journey to the caves in Niah National Park.
My friend casually asked the boatsman, “sungai Niah ni ada buaya?”, the guy gave a smile and nodded. I just kept quiet and be thankful that it’s a short ride! Haha
The 4.5 km walk to the caves. These are the pit stops and attractions along the way.
It was 11am on a clear hot Saturday morning but the canopy of trees provided a good shelter from the sun and it was a nice walk with continuous sound of nature providing a great ambience.
Some flora and fauna
There was only about 20-30 visitors at that time throughout the 4.5 km stretch so we hardly see anyone else and it was really nice to walk at our own speed and chit chat while enjoying the surrounding.
First stop, after about 40 minutes walk, the souvenir stalls.
Sumpit aka blowpipe.
After a 5 minutes rest and couple of cans of 100 plus, it was time to move into the caves.
Starting with the Trader’s Cave.
Trader’s Cave is an extended rock overhang rather than a cave proper. This is where the birds nest and quano traders conduct their business, hence the name.
Next was the archaeological excavation site.
Followed by the stunning Great Cave!
At over 60m high and 250m wide, it is one of the world’s most spectacular cave entrance leading to an even larger chamber within.
For many families with children on that day, this was the final stop before turning back. The journey from The Great Cave to The Painters Cave is in total darkness and requires a bit of energy.
The best way to describe the journey from this point is dark, bats and swiftlets’ droppings, lots of stairs!
Equipped with headlights rented from the park, we pushed on towards the Painted Cave.
SubhanAllah… a very beautiful God’s creation. The sight at The Large Chamber (Padang) on the way towards Painting Cave.
It took me only 5 minutes before I got hit by bats’ droppings. Thankfully I had my cap on!
In one of the smaller passage inside the caves…
…..camera flash and my headlight are the only source of lighting! The sound of disembodied voices mingles with the squeaking of millions of bats and swiftlets to create an eerie atmosphere!
Light at the end of the
After about an hour from the last pitstop, we had another few hundred meters of walking outdoor before reaching the final line, the Painted Cave.
and we conquered Niah!
The painting on the wall!
The good news is that we had covered 4.5 km in roughly about 2.5 hours, a typical average time for first time visitor. The bad news is that we have to backtrack the same exact route back to the park’s HQ.
We finally returned back to our car after walking/climbing stairs covering a total distance of 9km in a 5 hours stretch. Not bad for someone like me who seldom exercise and can’t even find where I placed my sports show in my house! Oh not to forget the 90 minutes’ drive back to Miri!
I am glad that I went on with the plan to explore Niah. Though it is not as sexy as Mulu Caves, i take this trip as a warming up trip in preparation for bigger and more challenging destinations 🙂
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