Friday, 31 July 2015

A Challenging Garden of Eden Valley Walk

I managed to do the Garden of Eden Valley Walk when I was at the Mulu National Park in May. Missed it when I first visited the park in January 2014 because all the spots were filled.

The Garden of Eden Valley Walk begins at the Deer Cave which is one of the showcaves at the Mulu National Park.
View of the Deer Cave from the bat observatory place. At dusk almost every day (depending on the weather), millions of bats fly out from the Deer Cave in search of food. They emerge from the mouth of the cave in unique aerial formations that would put any air force pilot to shame. Such is the beauty of nature.

Entrance to Deer Cave:

There are signages outside the cave to provide visitors with some background:

We saw a magnificent spiderweb at the entrance of the cave:

Another beautiful work of art by Mother Nature.

The Deer Cave is one mother of a cave as you can see from this pic:

Compare the size of the person in the pic with the largest cave passage in the world.

After walking on the wooden platforms (as you can see in the photo above), we soon reached the other end/entrance of the Deer Cave. This was where the real adventure began.

There were huge boulders and rocks that blocked it:

The faint white stripe on the left of the pic is a stream of water pouring from the roof of the cave. Apparently you can only see it during the rainy season. I call it, 'Beam Me Up, Scotty' from the Star Trek television series (go figure). During this trek I had the opportunity to stand underneath that stream of water!

To get to the other side we had to climb over and under rocks and boulders, using ropes and going on all fours.

The Deer Cave is home to millions of bats. So be prepared to enounter guano (bat shit) everywhere. Yucks.

Some of the rocks were covered in moss which made it extremely slippery. So a good pair of shoes is vital. I still swear by my Adidas Kampung!

Snapping photos during the trek was difficult. Due to the nature of the trek, we had to have our hands free at all times, and all items had to be kept in the waterproof backpack. So it was cumbersome to open the backpack, take out the camera, snap a pic and put the camera back into the backpack. And do it all over again for the next pic. 

There was a river that ran inside the cave:

The river looks like there's hardly any water in it. But on our way back the water had risen dramatically because it was raining. I didn't want to climb on the slippery moss covered rocks so I tried taking a short cut by swimming across the river. In the end I had to be rescued by LvH because the water was too deep.

After all the climbing and scrambling in the cave, we crossed the boulders and were out in the open at the other end of the Deer Cave:

Washing hands in the river, especially to get rid of the guano.

The weather didn't look too good by the time we got out from the cave. Rain was on the horizon.

Christian our guide had briefed us that if it rains we will not venture too far because it would be difficult to get back, especially when the water levels rise in the rivers.

Indeed, our next challenge was river crossing:

 Water levels were low and the river was relatively easy to cross. But there were some areas where the water was thigh level and strong currents. In situations like that all of us had to hold hands to cross the river. Unity is strength.

After crossing the river we started trekking through the forest. And then it began to drizzle.

Some of the paths were steep and slippery and the group that we were in were relatively young and fit. Luckily this old lady could keep up.

We saw some interesting flora and fauna along the trek like this blue mushroom:

First time seeing a blue mushroom. It was so pretty. 

Soon we reached a waterfall where we stopped for lunch.

Each of us were given a packed lunch of fried rice and banana as part of the Garden of Eden package tour. The food was distributed just before the trek at the Park HQ and we had to carry it all the way which is another reason to bring a waterproof bag. Just imagine arriving at the lunch place hungry and tired, and your fried rice is wet and soggy ...

After lunch Christian our guide said the weather was not good and we had to turn back. So we turned back and did the whole thing all over again in reverse.

All in all the Garden of Eden Valley Walk was a relatively challenging one. I told LvH that this was the real thing compared to the Tongariro Crossing trek he did in New Zealand. I think the spirits of Mulu must have been smiling at me for waxing lyrical about their home.

Here are a few tips if you wish to do the Garden of Eden Valley Walk:
  • This trek involves a combination of physical activities, i.e. simple rope climbing, crossing rivers, trekking through the forest, swimming (if the water level rose), going on all fours over rocks and boulders, etc. Be prepared to get yourself dirty and wet.
  • I cannot emphasise enough on having a good pair of covered shoes. The best shoe for this type of trek is Adidas Kampung which you can borrow from the Park HQ. The shop at the Park HQ also sells the shoes at RM15 a pair.
  • Since you will get wet during the trek, having a waterproof backpack is important, unless you want to sacrifice your stuff especially electronic items like camera and mobile phone.
  • You need to have some form of fitness in order to complete the trek, let alone enjoy it. Otherwise you'll be left behind or the rest of the people in the group may get annoyed at you for slowing them down. 
  • Since the Garden of Eden Valley Walk passes the Deer Cave, you don't need to book a separate tour to the Deer Cave anymore. Otherwise you'll be visiting the cave twice.

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