Day 3 in Mulu: Paku waterfalls and Lagang cave

This is our third post about Mulu series. For those that already read about the night safari in the jungle and the Garden of Eden posts, you already have an idea of the complex and pristine jungle and underground landscapes of Mulu. However, there is still a lot to discover. In our third day in Mulu we did an unguided tour through the jungle till we reached the beautiful Paku waterfalls and we also went into Lagang cave where we had to crawl dozens of metres, getting muddy and dirty.

Dipterocarp trees, some of the tallest tropical trees

We did all the walk to the Paku waterfalls alone. Only the sounds of the jungle and the fresh air under the big trees went along with us. Only between 0.5% and 5% of sunlight reaches the soil of a primary tropical forest like the one in Mulu. Therefore you can imagine how dark was at some point during the path.

Laura in the jungle

However, from time to time, a fallen tree opens a hole in the rainforest, allowing the light to penetrate deep under the folliage of other plants and facilitating the growth of other trees. In our stay in Mulu we heard many times falling trees although we didn’t see them falling. However, in our different trails through the jungle in Borneo (Mulu, Danum, Maliau…) we had to turn around because a fallen tree had destroyed a bridge or impeded our way through the rainforest.

The river Sungai Melinau Paku

The last part of the trail goes in parallel to the river till, at some point, we heard the noice of the waterfalls. We had not seen them before in photos so we were surprised to see that the waterfall was emerging directly from the rock wall on the other side of the river. The fallen trees on the fresh water, the solar rays filtered through the green leaves and reaching the river and the loneliness made us feel like Adam and Eve.

Laura and Paku waterfalls

We took off our clothes, left them on some dry roots on the river margin and started swimming and splashing in this virgin landscape. No one came while we enjoyed the peace of this place and we just had to stop when we realized it was too late. We went back to the park entrance and had a typical Mulu lunch before starting our next adventure: the Lagang cave.

In our way to Lagang cave

After lunch we took our helmets, drybags and headlanterns and got on the canoe. Our guide, at the back of the boat, guided us along the river, upstream. After some minutes we stopped on the right side and started a walk through the jungle for almost 30 minutes. Then, we started going down through a hole on a rocky wall. We were entering the Lagang cave.

Swallow nest

In Mulu caves, home of the biggest bat colony of the world, the sounds inside the caves are always the same: silence, water drops, bat flutter and something like squeals. The reason behind the squeals are the swallows, they are used to nest inside the caves and use the squeals to guide themselves through the darkness in a similar way as bats use their ultrasounds. The nest of the cave swallows are really appreciated in Borneo and also China, local people make a soup and it is considered a national dish.

Lagang Cave is not a typical cave for tourists where you walk on wooden platforms and light is everywhere and well suited to show the most impressive underground features. Lagang cave allows you to trail, climb and crawl underground with the only light of your headtorch. And this cave, a part from big caverns, also has some tricky parts, like the one you can see in the above video. At some point there were only 30 cm between the floor and the top of the cave, forcing us to forget about claustrophobia and crawl dozens of metres praying for an end. This was an incredible experience.

When we left the cave it started raining outside. Under the pouring rain we continued walking through the rainforest till we reached the river. Muddy, dirty and wet we got on the boat and dreamed of a shower in our private cabin.

Going back

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