The main affair
Gunung Mulu National Park (Mulu for short) is Sarawak’s flagship national park, and averaging around 15,000 visitors each year, it’s also its busiest. The main attractions here are its cave systems and the sharp raggedy limestone pinnacles, although just being in close proximity to the forest while also enjoying the luxury of a hot shower also has its charms.
Being Sarawak’s only UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, Mulu is a big draw for tourists. As such booking at least two to three weeks in advance for park accommodation and longer tours, such as the Pinnacles Trek and the Summit Trail in the peak season (June till September), is an absolute must.
Founded in 1974 and named after Gunung Mulu, the park gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 2000. The park has played host to decades of research in and around its cave systems, and to this day there are unexplored systems and the provenance of some of the underground waterways are as yet unknown.
That is not to say that prior to 1974 there was no human activity in this area. The Mulu–Long Seridan crescent was traversed by the nomadic Penan and to this day it’s said that there may be one or two bands who roam this area. However the vast majority have been resettled in either Batu Bungan or Long Iman, two villages within close range of the national park.
Due to its remote location, emergency facilities are scarce at Mulu, so bring a comprehensive med kit especially if you are going to be doing the longer hikes. There is a medical centre about 30 minutes’ walk from park HQ or about 10 minutes by transport. Very serious illnesses will require helicopter evacuation, so it’s worth ensuring you are insured for this.
Gunung Mulu National Park has a double price system. Malaysian adults pay 15 ringgit for a five-day pass (7 ringgit for kids) while non-Malaysians pay 30 ringgit (10 ringgit for kids).